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Afghan trainee chef has the recipe to make it in Hungary

Thursday 30, October 2014

Six years ago, Zia Karimi was a teenager fleeing persecution and violence in Afghanistan. Now he is a trainee chef in a top Budapest hotel with his own family and a career plan. 

The ethnic Hazara, who now considers himself almost Hungarian, grew up with his family in a village about one hour's drive from Kabul. Six years ago, when Zia was 15, the village was attacked by Taliban forces. Several members of his family were injured, and they decided to escape the violence.

The family found shelter in neighbouring Pakistan, but soon Zia, as the oldest son, was sent ahead to Europe. His perilous journey led him to Hungary, a country he knew almost nothing about.

He decided to seek asylum, started to learn the language and then decided to learn a trade, choosing cookery. He received a scholarship earlier this year and now spends one week in the classroom and one week in the hotel kitchens. He's a popular young man with a good sense of humour and the kitchen staff clearly admire him. 

With his career plan on track, Zia turned his attention to finding a girlfriend. His newly acquired Hungarian helped him get to know his girlfriend, Julianna. They met in a club, fell in love, moved in together, and have a 15-month-old baby. The three of them live with his girlfriend's parents about 30 kilometres outside Budapest.

Once he has finished his cookery course, Zia wants to launch his own fast food business. He will feature popular Hungarian dishes, including goulash, on the menu.

 

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