Migrants, Multiculture, Our People

Pablo Pessoa: “If I return to Portugal it will be to open my own restaurant”

After more than a year in London, this Portuguese cook feels very comfortable in a city populated by people of different nationalities, a city that is tremendously multicultural.


Javier Duque


Born in Oporto in 1986, he knew for some years that he wanted to come to live in the UK, and it is now almost 18 months since he arrived in London on the 23rd September 2010.

During his last year at college he realised that he wanted to work in England. “ I can’t give an exact reason, but I I saw it as a great opportunity to know more about the world. And I’m also a great fan of the Premier League”, he adds. After finishing secondary school, Pablo didn’t want to go to university, and decided he’d rather do a course in hospitality. Something which, he jokes, he was already used to because his mother was never at home to cook his meals and he had to make them himself.

Having finished his course, and ready to face the ovens,  Pablo wnated to gain some more experience in his own country before leaving for the UK. But the restaurant where he was going to work closed and he decided that was the time to leave.

Arriving in London expecting to find work quickly he found the reality was different. He applied to 15 restaurants without success. “I think I was unlucky because my friends found the kind of work they wanted in just 10 days. But in the end I have been lucky.”

Lucky, because not finding work as a cook he decided to begin as a waiter. A few weeks laterone of the cooks left and he asked the manager to give him a chance to cover the job temporarily. He agreed and Pablo didn’t disappoint him. At the moment he is still working there as a cook and seems to have the wind in his favour.


Pablo doesn’t regret his decision. He says he has met people from all over the world and from many cultures. “One of my flatmates – who I get on very well with – is a Muslim and prays several times every day of the year. Thse are things that surprise you, but they make you think and see how different we humans are”.

He also points out that he has not met a lot of English people, and thinks that is because they have their own lives and their own friends. “It isn’t the same for someone who arrives in another country and needs to meet new people”.

He says there is a good atmosphere at work and he has always been well-treated. “The hardest work in restaurants is the job of the kitchen porter. Work that is usually done by Indians, but “they never complain”.

Pessoa prefers not to talk about his future plans or even think about them at the moment. “I’ve got a regular paid job, which at the presnet time is already something important. And if I go back to Portugal it will be to open my own restaurant”.

But he doesn’t think now is a good time to return, with the present government cutting slaraies all round, and even stopping the extra months of holiday pay.

“ My friends are leaving, but they are going to Brazil, which is a country with a great future. Plus they are going to have the football World Cup and the Olympic Games !

What surprises him most is that some of his compatriots are going back to Angola, the ex-colony, looking for work. “It shows that countries that used to be thought poor are now progressing. And that is good.”

(Translated by Graham Douglas – Email: ondastropicais@yahoo.co.uk) – Photos: Pixabay

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