Brazilian Chef, Kely Willemen. | M. À. Cañellas

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Mallorca’s first Brazilian chef, Kely Willemen, has overcome many difficulties to get to where she is now.

When she was just 14, Kely prepared food in her hometown of Belém, in the Brazilian State of Pará, to help pay for school supplies and saved as much money as she could in order to study to become Journalist.

In the end she became a flight attendant and first came to Palma for three months in 2005 to train other air hostesses.

But her plans for the future screeched to a halt when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

"My world fell apart when they told me I probably had about six months to live,” she recalls. “The doctors told me not to do anything, but I wanted to do what I love most, cooking."

That was 16 years ago and Kely who has been nicknamed 'little cookie' because her name is similar to the Mallorcan cookie, Quely has been cancer-free ever since.

After she recovered she went to work as a cook in a restaurant in Heidelberg, Germany and she also met and fell in love with a Mallorcan cook. The couple have a son who is now 14 years old and has been diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome, which is a form of Autism.

Kely rolled up her sleeves and got stuck in to learning the gastronomic trade from scratch and over the years she has worked alongside some of the Island’s best chefs.

"I am the first Brazilian chef in the Amazon,” she says. "I've always had to find my own way, but I’m doing something that I love and despite everything that I have suffered and gone through, this is priceless."

Kely went from dishwasher to kitchen helper to chef, but it wasn’t all plain sailing.

"Cooking is not easy and cooking programmes have done a lot of damage," she says.

Her dishes are an explosion of cultures and she loves nothing more than mixing the gastronomy of Mallorca and Brazil and creating new dishes.

Now almost 44 years old, Kely is working as a cook on private yachts and loving every single minute of it.

I am good with people and that’s really helped me,” she says.