Freddy de la Cruz Medina
Chef and assistant Teacher
I am number five in a family of seven children (five boys and two girls).
From a young age, I dreamed of becoming a great chef – my mother cooked delicious meals at home which made me love cooking! I wanted to start a chef’s course in high school, but I unfortunately couldn’t afford the training programmes in Ayacucho. I also had to work to contribute to family costs at home.
But then Mama Alice started a culinary vocational training programme and my dream was alive again. I found out about Mama Alice from a friend who had followed a tourism programme. Since following this course, I have gained experience in several restaurants in Ayacucho. I was able to learn more about Peruvian gastronomy and in every restaurant, I worked, I added to my skillset and repertoire.
I have now worked as a chef at QuinuaQ since its opening. When Aleks is away teaching, I’m the chef in charge of the guests. That’s my favourite thing to do – even though it can be challenging when a group of eight arrive who have all ordered different dishes that should arrive at the same time. Sometimes I’m working alone in the kitchen, which can be stressful – but it is worth it for the fantastic feeling when the guests are satisfied.
Once I made a beef stir-fry (a Peruvian dish called ‘lomo saltado’) and a guest summoned the chef in a slightly alarming tone. I came over, afraid that he was dissatisfied, but then I got an amazing compliment. The man was a chef himself and said that, based on the quality of the ‘lomo saltado’, you could tell if there was a competent person in the kitchen. He said I passed the test!
My favourite dishes to prepare are ‘lomo saltado’ and ‘olloquito con charki’ (a llama stew). I am eager to learn and I hope that I can broaden my skillset. I also need to develop my teaching and supervising skills to help other more junior chefs. Part of my position at QuinuaQ involves me helping the students who are becoming chefs, bar staff or waiters, which requires a lot of patience and time.
It is now my dream to be able to travel to different countries, get new ideas about cuisine from different cultures, and start my own restaurant.