Jovany

“I grew up on a farm, so the lessons detailing the importance and power of growing our own food were taught every day in my house.

From the time I was 12, I learned to cook for my siblings as I was the oldest of three boys. When my parents were out in the fields, I was in charge of the house. At 17, I wanted to study fashion design but found it nearly impossible to discover opportunities to pursue that path. What I did find was an opportunity to pursue Culinary. I took the leap, graduated at 18, and moved to Bogotá.

I start off as a line cook and worked my way up. During my apprenticeship, my chef made it clear to me that I needed to assert myself as a ‘man’s man’. I needed to be strong, masculine, and with a commanding voice. He assured me that without those attributes, I would never gain any respect from my peers and subordinates. So I did what any rookie cook would do – I went against who I was and did what was expected of me.

By the time a moved on to a new restaurant, I had decided I would no longer hide who I was. From the day I first met my new chef, I told him exactly the person I was, how I acted and how I spoke to and treated my colleagues. He shrugged it off like it wasn’t a big deal and told me to be me. I was lucky. I was probably one of the few who had found a chef so open at the time. But things are changing now, you no longer need to be this ultra-macho chef to command a kitchen.

Allowing a chef to be themselves is allowing them to reach their innermost creativity. Without the freedom to think, feel, dress, and act as I am, I would have no creativity for myself, let alone to leave on a plate. I am 100% myself and my food is a reflection of that.”