Catarina is the cook at Mondo Deli, a restaurant in Porto. She invited me over and prepared three dishes (spoiler alert: all them were delicious and included dessert). Catarina is a professional, and payed little attention to my face. That's why I online have profile pictures of her. But despite our lack of eye contact, she welcomed me with open arms and explained to me how did she get there.
When she was a teenager, she began making dinner for her family while her mother was still at work. Not settling for spaghetti and sausages, she tried different recipes, taking pleasure in cooking. When it was time to choose her future, she questioned "Arts? Literature? Science?", and took a chance at culinary school. After finishing her studies, she moved to Barcelona where she worked for a couple of years before moving back to her hometown.
She began working at Mondo Deli in early 2016 and told me wonders about this place, how much she loved working here. Co-workers who became close friends, going for drinks after their shift. One of them, Miguel, was responsible for the soundtrack. A selection of 70's psychodelic rock songs, something unexpected in a place with such a clean and modern appearance. He prepared us Aperol Sours - an aesthetically pleasing cocktail, orange-hued alcohol with a cherry.
During that slow afternoon, we had a roasted sweet potato, topped with Greek yogurt and some salad. Her friend André, who also worked at Mondo Deli, prepared us this wonderful octopus salad with peanuts and celery. For dessert, a spoonful of flourless chocolate cake with spices, hazelnuts, crème fraîche, and orange infused olive oil.
Catarina is now a cook at Almeja Porto.