I’m 16 years old and was born in a small town near Modena, Italy - a city with a strong culinary tradition. Since I was a child, I’ve lived and breathed cooking, which is a passion in my family that has always been part of my daily life. I attended CFP Nazareno for two years, obtaining a professional Restaurant Operator (EQF3) qualification. Now, I'm attending the fourth year of a specialist course, in order to obtain my ‘Kitchen Technician’ (EQF4) qualification. In June 2019, I had the opportunity to go to Spain with the Erasmus programme. It was my first experience abroad, so I had many reservations - understanding a different culture and being able to work without knowing a single word of Spanish, in particular. The secret, in my experience, was to stop worrying. Support from my teachers, from the Spanish partner ‘Esmovia’, and from the family who hosted me was fundamental, for me.
Work was at the heart of my experience of this intense month in Spain. I carried out two internship experiences. One in a tourist restaurant, and one later, in a restaurant owned by a very famous chef in Spain. In the first place, there was a little tension and a bit of confusion, but I did my best, pushing my limits. After a few days, I was already in charge of the appetisers (even though I didn't speak the language!) After the first week, I asked to change roles. I was fine, but I wanted to aim for something bigger. I was thinking, ‘I came here, I'm in Valencia, let’s dream big!’ So, I asked to be moved and my request was accepted. That's how I started my experience at the Vuelve Carolina Restaurant, owned by Chef Quique Da Costa who is very well-known in Spain. He manages various starred restaurants.
This was an incredible experience for me - I can say that it was love at first sight. I worked in a very respectful, orderly and organised environment, with high-quality raw materials. I discovered work techniques I’d never seen before. Initially, since I didn't know the language, I started with basic preparation, but even in this case, after seeing my interest, they entrusted me with more and more responsibility. I did everything, from appetisers to main dishes. We never had communication problems, there was always great mutual respect. The last day my chef Adrian told me, ‘It was an honour and a pleasure to have you with us, and if you ever come back to Valencia, this is your home.’
My meeting with Chef Quique Da Costa was a special moment. I was working, and suddenly I faced this man, who was staring at me. I knew very well who he was, but I got stuck, as if petrified by the surprise and also by the respect I have for him, both as a person and as a professional. A chef, when he reaches this level, is like an artist.
This experience has changed me, but that is only possible if you are willing to undertake it without prejudice. I trusted in my motto these days, which is ‘Viva la Vida!’ I’m certainly not a chef yet, but it was a step forward, and I owe this to those who made it possible - Scuola Centrale Formazione, Cfp Nazareno and Esmovia. Thanks to Erasmus, my passion has been rekindled!
Emanuele Giliberti, Student, Italy
- Publication date
- 19 November 2019
- Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion