The chef couple from Peru and Portugal found their home in Skellefteå
Chefs Lizandro Quevedo and Maria Neves had long considered leaving Gothenburg for a smaller city. And when Lizandro saw that the municipality of Skellefteå was looking for chefs at the end of 2021, things happened fast. He sent in an application, got a call the next day, and then both he and Maria were offered jobs in Skellefteå municipality's kitchen.
- It was a jackpot for everyone, says Lizandro.
Lizandro is originally from Lima, the capital of Peru.He moved to Sweden in 2006 and has been working in the restaurant industry ever since.He met Maria in 2010 when she was visiting her cousin in Gothenburg.
- Her cousin is married to my former colleague and when Maria was coming to visit, he asked if I wanted to come along. And that's the way it is," says Lizandro.
Maria, who comes from a village near Porto in Portugal, moved in with Lizandro in Gothenburg and got a job at the same restaurant as him.
Took the opportunity to move north
In 2017 they became parents to daughter Leonor and in 2020 son Vicente was born. Family life made Lizandro and Maria rethink their living situation and plans to move to a smaller town grew stronger.
- 'We thought about the children and wanted them to have a safe and good future,' says Lizandro.
In 2006, he had accompanied a friend on a road trip along the coast of northern Sweden, and he had a very positive impression of northern Sweden.
- It was a great trip by car, passing through Örnsköldsvik, Umeå and Skellefteå on the way to the cottage that his friend's grandmother had in Boden. I thought: "Northern Sweden is great, I'm going to move here some day," says Lizandro.
In December 2021, the opportunity arose when he saw a Facebook ad for the municipality of Skellefteå looking for cooks. He and Maria decided to apply for the position and Lizandro sent off his application on Friday.
- I didn't think they would contact me, as we live so far away. But Daniel Hällgren, the head of the catering unit, called the next day, which I wasn't prepared for. Daniel asked a lot of questions and when I told him that Maria also works as a cook, he wanted to talk to her too. We were both offered jobs, it was like winning the lottery," says Lizandro, laughing.
Working in different places
He and Maria are an increased core staff at the meals unit, which means they work in several different kitchens. Maria is based at the Aromköket at Skellefteå Hospital and Lizandro at Anderstorpsgymnasiet's school restaurant.
- It's a really fun bunch working at Anderstorp and it's been easy to get into all the workplaces. I saw it as a good challenge to work in several different places. I get to meet new people and work in different environments. I'm really enjoying it right now," says Lizandro.
For Maria, it was a transition from the restaurant in Gothenburg, with six employees in the kitchen, to the Aromköket, where 36 people work.
- It was a big challenge, but I've had a positive experience. We make food for both restaurants and elderly care, and I've been involved in planning the menus. The colleagues are kind and helpful and I have got to know many new people," says Maria.
"Easy to get into the community"
When it became clear that they had found a job in Skellefteå, they found an apartment in Skelleftehamn. Lizandro went north on the moving truck in March to renovate it, and in April the family moved into the three-bedroom apartment.
- Skellefteå is super nice and we have great access to leisure activities here. We are close to nature where we can fish and canoe. And I've been longing for a real winter so I can learn to ski," Lizandro says and continues:
- "We are proud of our children who have adapted well after the move and especially our daughter who has been strong and brave in stepping out of her safe zone in Gothenburg. But it has been easier for us to get into the community here compared to Gothenburg. We have met more people in our six months in Skellefteå than we did in ten years in Gothenburg. Of course, we miss our relatives and friends there, but when they ask me if I regret it, I usually say that the only thing I regret is that we didn't move to Skellefteå sooner.