Zaragoza – Bologna – Edinburgh
Zaragoza is that city that sits between Barcelona and Madrid where, according to the Lonely Planet, seeing the multi-domed Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Pilar reflected in the Río Ebro at dawn is reason alone to visit. And of course it’s warm most of the year!
Kitchen Assistant Javier grew up there, enjoying your normal sports of basketball and karate during his school years and spending what sound like idyllic summers with extended family up in the mountains.
Fortunate to have an uncle who lived in the beautiful Aísa Valley in the Pyrenees, Javier enjoyed a whole month there every year, escaping the heat of the city.
He loved his time in the Valley, playing with cousins, splashing in the pool and even swimming in local rivers and lakes when brave enough to handle the cold water!
Rocks, Bologna and Food!
With his love of rocks, learning how they were formed, where they come from, how the plates move, it was an easy decision to start a 4-year degree in Geology at Zaragoza University. The course moved to Bologna for year 4, giving Javier a fantastic opportunity to experience life in another city, whilst also presenting the challenge of having to learn another language … his finals were in Italian!
Having already worked in the kitchen for a couple of summers at his Uncle’s seafood and paella restaurant, Javier was developing a love of food. He was delighted in Bologna, then, to be living with a family and to learn about the local religion that is pasta!
His host Andrea Toscani taught him how to make a wide range of fresh pasta like ravioli, tortellini, fettucine and fusilli to name a few, as well as a variety of sauces including carbonara, pomodoro, pesto and almonds, boletus* and cream and of course the city’s own bolognesa. How delightful to be right in the middle of all that culinary expertise with authentic local ingredients!
Granada and Edinburgh
Not long after his time in Bologna, Javier went to Granada for a year to further his studies with a Masters. Unsurprisingly he enjoyed the whole experience there, taking advantage of the amazing environment that combines fun student life with wonderful attractions, art and architecture.
He also met his girlfriend in Granada. She was born in Argentina but brought up mostly in Malaga. Together they spent several months looking for work in Spain before realising that the economic situation there was going to make it too difficult. With a friend already in Edinburgh, they made the decision just 10 months ago to move to this colder clime!
Javier came to the Venue almost straight away, picking up on his love of food once more and working with renowned Head Chef Sam to prepare a different menu every day. His friends and family back home couldn’t get their heads around the nature of the Venue as Javier says they simply don’t have that kind of organisation in Spain!
Whilst he’s enjoying exploring the city of Edinburgh, studying is clearly in his blood … he’s now embarked on a 3-year Batchelor of Science degree with the Open University. We wish him good luck with that!
*Boletus is in the porcini family of mushrooms