A popular London-based chef found herself forced to spend eight months in Mexico due to visa issues.
Cavita was one of the biggest London restaurant openings of 2022. Eponymous chef Adriana Cavita came touting a resume that including the likes of Nicos and world-famous restaurant Pujol in Mexico City, and brought a signature style of Mexican cooking that garnered rave reviews, including one from us as Cavita made it into SquareMeal’s Top 100 London Restaurants list for 2023.
Yet, when the Michelin guide announced Cavita as one of its openings of the year, Adriana was strangely absent. As she documents in a piece for the Evening Standard, that’s because she was no longer in the country - an expired visa had forced her to leave the country, and she remained unable to come back to the UK for eight months.
Cavita was working in the UK on a spouse’s visa, so when she and her partner decided to divorce, she had to reapply for a different visa. ‘I started the process months before Cavita opened,’ she says, ‘and someone I thought I could trust told me I had no option but to apply for an innovator visa.
‘There is a long story here, but the short one is that I trusted the advice. But I’m no expert, and I shouldn’t have.’
When the visa didn’t appear in time, Cavita moved the 9000 km home to Mexico City and waited. She was initially told that she would be gone for 10 days, but that 10 days eventually became eight months, and Cavita has only just been able to return to the UK to run her restaurant.
‘I’m the face of the company, the food is mine, the name of the restaurant is my name, everything that goes on is my responsibility’ she explains. ‘I was desperately trying to figure out what we could do because it felt like: surely, this is not the only option, there must be something we can try.'
Cavita returns to the UK on May 15, but her time in Mexico allowed her to travel the country and connect with new flavours and ideas for the restaurant. She also found time to write a book, Cocina Mexicana, which comes out in September.
Read more about the great, trailblazing female chefs working in kitchens up and down the country in our guide to the UK’s top female chefs.