LESSONS FROM CHEF LEO IN PERU

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A GUEST POST BY STEPH Z

This is a completely true story except for the parts that are not.

Leo ran a cute sushi bar in Cusco, Peru. This story isn’t about his business or cheffing skills. This is a story about a guy who communicated a message I needed to hear at the time: where I don’t feel peace, I must move on, despite my fears and how much it hurts. It reminded me of when I felt trapped in the past— trapped in past relationships and jobs. Leo reminded me of how important it is to follow your heart, even when it means losing comfort and “financial security”.

Leo is originally from Mancora, a beach town famous for its gorgeous beaches. It’s a favorite spot for the wealthy in Peru and around Latin America. Here Leo had a successful beach bar, and was starting to feel like it was time for his next move. During this time Leo was seeing Laura, a wealthy Chilean businesswoman who owned a chain of very lucrative restaurants. 

Leo cutting salmon sushi

Laura really liked Leo and invited him to come live in Chile with her where she would provide anything he would need. She could employ him in one of her restaurants and he could move into her house. Leo thought it would be a good next step for him, so he took her up on her offer. Leo moved to Chile and into her mansion. Her family loved him and things were great…until he realized he wanted to return to Peru.

When Leo told Laura, things got scary. Laura started to monitor him. She wanted to know where he was at all times. Laura was extremely jealous and possessive of Leo, and she started firing workers that got too close to him. When Leo tried to take space from Laura she cut him off financially and refused to give him his passport to fly back to Peru. 

Leo felt trapped because she had so much power. Leo realized that Laura was not going to let him leave on bad terms and so he played nice: he acted like their relationship was going to be okay but that he needed some time with his family. Leo was find a way back to Peru and he knew she would only let him go if she thought he would return to Chile. Laura finally agreed and Leo returned to Peru. Once he landed he changed his number and decided to travel around Peru to find his way. He never contacted Laura again. 

Leo laughed and said “I felt so free”.

Then I remembered how free I felt the moments I stepped away from the situations and people that suffocated me–like when I quit my job, left past relationships, or finally let go of people who no longer wanted to be in my life. I literally felt a weight lifted from my soul. 

Leo found his path to Cusco and built a beautiful family there which includes a beautiful pup who is now a mother! I have tried following this advice and I am happy to say I am on a similar path: I am living my best life as a Digital Nomad traveling with my fellow Nomad Kitties.

CUSCO LEO PUPS, MAMACITA

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steph Z was raised by a tribe of entrepreneurial women; her grandmother, mother, and aunt run a Peruvian food truck in Queens, NYC. She likes good weed, good food, and community empowerment. Steph was brought up on the mantra “la unión hace la fuerza,” unity is strength. This is a core value that fuels her mission to empower immigrant and first-generation artists and entrepreneurs through coaching sessions that help them overcome obstacles holding us back from our dreams. 

Steph Z provides individual coaching sessions and group workshops that facilitate vulnerable conversations that lead to stronger teams and clarity. Some of her favorite teams she’s worked with include: 

  • Brightly™, an immigrant-run cleaning worker cooperative based out of Washington Heights. 
  • @AntojitosDonaFela, her family business.
  • @DeathIsABusiness, a nomadic band part of the Nomad Kitty Tribe.

You can follow her work here.

Cusco Peru

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