Tony Pereira is 51 years old and an international master chef who lives in Venezuela. Having graduated in various prestigious gastronomic academies, he has worked in a number of five-star hotels in his country. His working day starts at 7 a.m., but Tony actually gets up every morning at 4 o’clock. While the city is still sleeping, he gets on his motorbike and drives to the parish of San Sebastian in Maiquetía, in the Vargas municipality, close to the capital Caracas. The first thing he does on entering the church is to kneel before the Blessed Sacrament and give thanks for the new day that is dawning. Then he goes into the courtyard, lights up the stove fuelled by an old bottled gas canister, takes down a couple of enormous brass saucepans and, day after day, come rain, come shine, dedicates the hours before going to his official place of work to preparing an exclusive menu for a group of very special guests.
An exclusive menu – not because of the exquisite nature of the ingredients, but because the most important condiment he adds is an abundance of loving kindness. The dedication and commitment of Tony and his helpers are all the greater, given that the rest of the ingredients, however simple, are difficult to get hold of in this country so sunk in the poverty of its economic and social crisis. It is a challenge to find the necessary ingredients, but our chef uses all his creativity to ensure that the menu is a varied one. Today it is rice with chicken. 10 kg of rice and four or five chickens, Tony calculates, talking to himself.