He is 22 years old and the designation as Best Young Master Chocolatier in Spain is definitely not a coincidence. Ecuadorian Steben Gaviño, originally from Quito, began studying cooking as a teenager and his passion has taken him further than he ever imagined.
His parents are chefs, and this allowed this young man to discover very early what he wanted to do. Although he points out that he does not like to define himself, if he has to, he chooses to describe himself as “a pastry chocolatier at heart.”
At the age of 14, when he attended school like any young man of that age, Steben also decided to start studying cooking. Two years later, when he began to learn everything related to pastry, a special interest was awakened in him.
“It was a brutal change. I became very interested in the subject of sweets, pastry, I began to investigate when I finished classes. In classes I would arrive earlier and I was last, it was really a tremendous change for me, and that in terms of pastry, when I touched on the subject of chocolate there it was the complete boom for me”, Steben mentions.
This passion for chocolate led him to want to learn more and specialize in this subject, so together with his mother, once he graduated from college and cooking school, they looked for a pastry school in Europe, where they meet the best academies in this matter.
This is how Steben applied to the Gremio de Barcelona Pastry School in Spain, where he was accepted, however, getting a visa to study in that country was not an easy task.
“They denied me a visa once, we asked for an explanation, we tried again, they denied me again. My mom no longer wanted to know anything, because to do the papers you have to spend money and time. She said, ‘look, let’s look elsewhere.’ We saw schools in Chile, in Argentina, where there is also very good pastry, but it is not the same as in Europe. So, I asked her to try one more time. We fixed everything, because the reason why they denied me was illogical, and the third time we tried, I left the embassy with the visa, and I said I’m going”.
He arrived in Barcelona in 2017, a month late for classes because the process of obtaining the visa delayed him. Despite the desire he had to get to this European city, it was difficult for him to adapt and soon he thought about returning to Ecuador.
“After a month I wanted to go back, I didn’t feel comfortable. I was 18 years old, and I was alone, here I have no family or anything, now it is different because you already have your friends, but when you arrive the cultural shock is quite great. At that moment my mother told me ‘Come, if you want to come, come, but you will see how you pay the ticket’. At that time, I was not working, and I stayed. Now I thank her and every time she reminds me, I tell her: what would be of me without you”, Steben assures that the support of his father and mother in this process have been fundamental.
The best young pastry chef in Spain is Ecuadorian
Four years have passed and Steben Gaviño is already a superior pastry technician, but not only that, last October he was also chosen as the Best Young Master Chocolatier in Spain, after competing against candidates from all over the European country. The Ecuadorian represented the Gremio de Barcelona Pastry School. The contest called ‘Belcolade Generation Championship’ was supposed to take place in 2020 but was delayed by the covid-19 pandemic.
The contest was developed in two days, which lasted a total of 10 hours. In the first stage they had a total of four hours to present a chocolate cake and, the next day, they had six hours to present some chocolate bars and an artistic piece, also made entirely with this ingredient.
“The jury checks that the piece is properly assembled, that the joining points of one part with another cannot be seen, that the piece is not broken, that everything is in order. They also have a brochure where all the pre-made elaborations are, they verify that what they have on the paper is the same as what I was presenting to them. Out of the 100 points that can be obtained, I got 90, the second place got 80 and the third 70, so the difference in points was quite wide “, details the Ecuadorian.
In addition to the designation as Best Young Master Chocolatier in Spain, by winning the contest Steben also became an ambassador for Belcolade, a chocolate company based in Belgium, a country to which the Ecuadorian will also travel as a guest of the company to visit its factory. .
Your own chocolate school in Ecuador
After completing his studies in Barcelona, Steben’s next goal is to set up his own pastry and chocolate school. Meanwhile, this talented young man has already started sharing his knowledge through courses he teaches remotely.
“As of March of this year, I launched my online course school, the truth is that there has been an incredible acceptance by the students and I am super happy, because my long-term plan is to set up a school in Ecuador or here , but especially in Ecuador, because I believe that the plan that all of us who go abroad have, or at least in my union is like that, is to specialize and return to Ecuador with everything you know and make the profession grow ”, he indicates.
This young Ecuadorian believes that the cocoa produced in our country should still be more promoted in the world. “The cocoa we have has an incredible quality, and I say this because I know cocoa, I know how to process the raw material, from the beans to the final product. As a raw material, by not giving as much importance to cocoa, we cannot send as much or sell as much as we would like. Our cocoa is of the highest quality, it is not for nothing that Pacari has won the best cocoa bar in the world so many times”, he points out.
He adds that he dreams that Ecuador will soon be able to position itself as a benchmark for pastry and chocolate in the world. “I feel that step by step and with good professionals we can make Ecuador convert, that our own people do not have to look for a country abroad to educate themselves that well, but simply that Ecuador has that level.”
Steben plans to return to the country in the middle of next year, after fulfilling the obligations that he has acquired as the best young chocolatier in Spain. Once in the country, he hopes his passion will continue to take him far to reach new goals. (I)