There are two aspects that I especially enjoy about Cooking. The first one is sharing the results with others and watching them enjoy their meal. I think there are few other things that can bring someone a more genuine smile than serving them their favourite dish, knowing that there’s enough left for seconds.
Secondly, cooking means time to relax and enjoy myself, whether it’s creating something new and experimenting with crazy flavours, or just following the steps I know so well until I start noticing those scents that make me feel slightly homesick.
Either alone or with someone by my side, cooking is an event worth caring for.
My name is Xavier Bravo Guillen and I am a Client Engineer at a worldwide-known video game company. Every day, I spend my work time with Unity and C# developing new features and improvements for a game that is being played by millions of people!
I grew up playing games and kept that interest alongside one that revolved around computers and how they worked. I found myself at a young age trying to understand how those magic adventures that I loved so much were made – and if I could also make them! From that moment on, I tampered with our home computer to try and see how far I could reach. I developed the idea that has walked with me ever since that day: I’m going to do video games. I really think that for many people in the video game industry, working in this field is some sort of childhood dream come true, because we all enjoyed (and keep on enjoying) the content that we are now creating on a daily basis.
I’m currently living in Barcelona, Catalunya, but I’m originally from Badalona (a city just next to Barcelona). For me, coming to Barcelona was just a natural step. Not only in the sense of getting that independence that we always want at a young age, but also because, aside from my family, all my connections are from this city or from abroad, like my partner. Residing here helps me be closer to both my workplace and a boiling environment that I love, while at the same time, not being too far from my family.
Outside of work, I love Cooking. I first became interested in cooking at a really young age, when I saw my mom cooking those big meals on Christmas, New Year’s Eve, or our birthdays. As a kid, I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the daily meals, as I kind of took them for granted – but I will always have a special place in my heart for those special occasion dinners with my family. Helping my mom create a parade of colours, shapes, flavours, and smells (even if I only made a dressing) gave me a feeling of success that was weirdly special. The cherry on top would be when someone took their first bite and would exclaim “So good! It’s obvious that you helped, Xavi!”
My mom is, and always will be, my main inspiration and mentor. Everything that I learned has been through her, even the most basic things. I still remember how I sometimes would be cocky enough to think that I knew how to prepare a certain dish better because I saw it on the Internet. Naturally, her expertise would come back full force to remind me who the apprentice was. Always with the kindest of smiles, though!
I have even started to create my own small cookbook based on her recipes to preserve all that knowledge! For now, it’s just a basic notebook, full of scribbles and oil stains, but I would love to eventually create something that will truly last.
In general, I enjoy making food that you can eat easily with your hands or standing. Dishes like tequeños (deep-fried cheese sticks from Venezuela), the world-famous gyozas, deviled eggs – all snacks that call for company, fun, and a table surrounded by people enjoying their day.
Although I’ll always be a fan of this snacky food, the dish I’m most proud of being able to create is a main course: Migas (which is “Breadcrumbs” in Spanish). This is an extremely typical food as old as the country itself. It’s also considered one of the “poor man meals”, being a dish that has a solid base common in all of its shapes that gets most of its personality by the touch that the cook wants to give it. The main ingredient is plain stale bread, humidified overnight, which gets cooked with oil and garlic in a large, wok-type pan. You can add whatever you want, from bacon or chorizo to veggies. This dish means so much to me because it was a staple dish of my childhood, so it reminds me of my home and my parents. I even recently inherited the legendary family Migas pan!
I’ve had PLENTY of times where I’ve messed up with my cooking, and it will probably keep on happening weekly, but still fresh on my mind is the recent cauliflower incident. Coming home from work, I decided to go for a recipe I had been meaning to try for a while: cauliflower dough pizza (one of those dishes that you feel a little less unhealthy preparing, right?). I went to the store and bought everything I needed, which amounted to … well … a heap of cauliflower, basically.
I spent plenty of time blending the entire head of it, mixing it with all kinds of spices. Still, it kept feeling slightly weird texture-wise. I decided to keep on with it and hope for it to get fixed in the oven, where it was supposed to cook and then serve as a pizza base.
When my girlfriend came over, all excited to try this new dish, she instead found me fighting some sort of wet cauliflower cookie that was sticking to my oven pan, the entire house now reeking with that lovely cauliflower musk! I did save all that half-cooked slough in some Tupperware to make a fried ‘rice’ later – you know, after burning it on my first attempt and messing up everything again.
We will always remember this as the day the local pizzeria handed me our dinner while I looked away defeated.
I see a few similarities between my cooking and my current occupation. Perseverance and mastery of the basics are key for me in both worlds. As a coder, I will always prefer a code that has a solid foundation with a smart and well-thought structure, rather than just a random bunch of pieces all thrown together. Not understanding that foundation will ultimately lead to not being able to polish, perfect, and correct your work, meaning that you won’t be able to go further.
My advice to anyone interested in Cooking is that every time your food tastes off, identify why or you will repeat the mistake. Don’t buy new, expensive tools if you’re starting – learn to use the ones you have. And remember this: plenty of things in cooking are just basics mixed in a certain order. Master the basics, and you’ll be able to cook anything you want.
There is always more than tech. I think that developing skills, committing to various things, and exploring adventures next to your career will help you grow as a person, whether they are related to tech or not. We live in a breathing environment, constantly growing and changing, so the best we can do is embrace it and enjoy any part of it that we find exciting. If we keep that spirit, growth in our jobs will come as something natural.