The Camino de Santiago is a way to find yourself, and in the case of Brooklyn-born Sarah Pace, it was the way to finding a husband and a new life, in Valencia.
Sarah has spent most of her working life between New York and Boston, and among her many achievements are the production of film festivals and working as a consultant for the New York Foundation for the Arts, helping artists, not the most practical of people, to write their mission statements and express their artistic sensibilities in language that ordinary people could understand.
Aside from her love of Art, one of her great passions has always been food, and, unable to afford the fees to study there, she managed to get herself a job at the National Gourmet School as a chef’s assistant, focusing on gluten-free and vegetarian dishes, learning the tricks of the trade for two years, exploring state of the art concepts in the culinary industry such as Flexitarian Eating and the use of natural products as a way of staving off illness and promoting a healthy lifestyle.
Ever the entrepreneur, she hooked up with a friend, and between them they set up a Supper Club, ‘The New Deal,’ taking advantage of the quiet nights in restaurants between New York and Boston to hold gourmet evenings, focusing largely on raw food, for lack of an adequate kitchen, and trying to get through the crisis of 2008, while at the same time committing her time to laudable causes such as Farm Aid, with whose director she collaborated for 15 years, or the Armenian Tree Project, a stand against the deforestation in that country, a direct result of natural and man-made disasters.
Music was always a key part of the suppers she organized, and she was also part of the Slow Food movement in the USA, emphasizing the quality rather than quantity or speed, two all too typical problems in the American attitude to eating.
As the economic crisis made it harder to persevere, Sarah decided to take advantage of a friend’s wedding in Biarritz to undertake another kind of challenge, walking the Camino de Santiago in 2010.
There she met Juan Manuel, from Valencia, and at the end of the journey, after two years of stolen visits and a lot of skyping, she took the giant step and moved to Valencia in 2012.
At first she got by teaching English, focusing on the tourism and hostelry sectors because of her past experience, until finally, in November 2015, she set up ‘More than Food,’ an English academy with a kitchen in the middle of the Carmen neighbourhood, where she now combines her love of communication with her love of food, for, as her slogan states: “the next best thing to eating food, is talking about it.”
You may enjoy what you eat at the end of your class here, or you may hear the familiar words “could do better” but one thing is for sure; in these classes nobody fails, and nobody goes home hungry for anything except more knowledge.
And that’s what she mainly does now, teach English through cookery, while branching out into all kinds of exciting areas, such as ‘Art Bites,’ where every month a local artist is invited to explain, preferably in English, and hang his or her work in her cosy saloon in the Carmen neighbourhood, with some cheese and wine of course, and to leave it there for a month for prospective buyers to appreciate.
The first in the series, Valencian artist Oscar Chico Garrido, set the series rolling in February 2016.
Sarah also has regular guest speakers, conducting hands-on workshops, such as a baker showing how to make bread or a Russian chef teaching Russian cuisine.
There are also regular evenings where those who love good food, wine, conversation and communication, can travel the world through food in evenings dedicated to Tapas of the World or World Routes, where participants can experiment the cuisine of the planet and discover that American cuisine is more than a hot dog precariously balanced upon a hamburger.
And some good news for Valencia International readers; we will be organizing a special activity with Sarah on February 27th; so stay tuned for further news.