Michelin Guide Website: Behind the Bib: Joselito: Casa de Comidas
From the Michelin Guide Website by Lani Furbank.
“Javier Candón grew up in Huelva, the province in Spain that is home to the prized jamón Ibérico. “If you are from Montana, you eat beef and buffalo, but if you are from Huelva, you eat pig all the time,” he says. An ocean away from his hometown, Candón can still enjoy jamón whenever he pleases—in the dining rooms of his two Spanish restaurants, SER in Arlington, Virginia, and Joselito: Casa de Comidas on Washington, D.C.’s Capitol Hill.
As the youngest of eight brothers and sisters, Candón was often recruited to help his mother host guests. “My parents used to have a lot of parties at home,” he says. His family moved to the “big city” when he was 10, where his brothers were attending the University of Seville. When it came time for him to choose a career path, Candón began studying computer engineering. “After one year, I realized that that’s not what I wanted to do,” he recalls.
In 1992, he was looking for a summer job when he discovered that the Escuela de Hostelería de Sevilla was opening. “I joined the restaurant business school in its first year,” he says. “Now, it’s one of the most prestigious [schools] in Europe.”
During his time in school, he cooked, washed dishes and served in various kitchens and dining rooms; he also trained at restaurants in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, England and France. When he graduated, he started working at Taberna del Alabardero in Seville and was later offered a job as the general manager of the location in Washington, D.C.
“I came with the condition I was coming only for one year, because I just wanted to improve my English and go back to Spain,” he says. “But my wife used to be a regular customer at Taberna. She used to go there for her happy hour. I met her, we started dating and here we are with two American children.”
He stayed at Taberna for 14 years, but in the back of his mind, Candón always knew he wanted a restaurant of his own someday. “It sounds crazy because restaurants are a very dangerous business, in the way that it’s not easy,” he says. “But I always had a passion. I wanted to have my own restaurant, my house and welcome everybody.””
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Featured photo by Rey Lopez.