Some 20 years ago, Sascha Newport was arriving for work at an upscale cocktail bar in Edinburgh, Scotland, when the new Spanish doorman – whose swarthy good looks had already caused excited commentary among the female staff – swung into action.
“Beautiful eyes, beautiful,” he murmured to the 21-year-old Australian waitress in his heavily accented English, gallantly holding the door as a blushing Sascha scurried inside.
Thrilled, Sasha told a workmate about the encounter.
“Oh the bouncer?” her friend scoffed. “He told me I had beautiful eyes too!”
That bouncer was Miguel Maestre who, at 20 years old, had recently arrived in the city without a lick of English to his name. His roommate had given him pointers to communicate in a rudimentary fashion with the staff and clientele of the bar, which he hoped would lead to a job in the kitchen.
“It was a really cool place, like the Ivy in London, really exclusive,” he tells The Weekly today. “When I first met Sascha I couldn’t speak one word of English but we clicked.”
At the time, Sasha had hit pause on a round-the-world trip in order to work and save money for the last leg. Miguel, meanwhile, had just arrived from his hometown of Murcia, Spain, to chase his dreams of working in the world’s best restaurants.
His love of cooking had come young watching his parents side by side preparing meals for their huge extended family. “You would see them at the sink together, my dad cleaning calamari, my mother cooking,” he says. “Some of the best memories I have in my life are those beautiful ones. I think the kitchen is the only place that I belong.”
Both transplanted from homes far away, the pair quickly gravitated towards each other. And despite the language barrier a whirlwind romance blossomed.
“We laugh because on our first date I must have been just talking, talking and he would have had no idea what I was saying,” Sascha, now 41, says of the unlikely start of their relationship. “I can’t remember how we really made sense. But we used to have so much fun and oh, his gorgeous smile. He’d turn up to my house and would cook for me, little dates.”
“I used to have an English book,” Miguel, 40, admits. “So it would say in English, ‘what is your favourite drink?’ And then I would ask it. Then the next thing will be, ‘Tell me about your mum and dad?’ So we would sit down and have these very broken conversations. Sascha was really outgoing, and even if I couldn’t understand what she was saying and she couldn’t understand what I was saying, we had fun.”
It was, quips Sascha, “the language of love” and it’s the tongue they still speak in today, two decades and two children later, albeit with Miguel far more fluent in English.
And it’s this language which he credits with all of his success and good fortune in life. Most recently, it saw him crowned King of the Jungle. In January, Miguel’s emotional declarations of devotion to his wife and kids (Claudia, eight, and Morgan, five) from the set of I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! won him a legion of fans and the title to boot. “People say, ‘Behind every great man is a great woman’ and I think that’s wrong,” Miguel says of the strength he draws from his wife. “I think that in front of every great man is a great woman, leading the way.”
Taming the bull
It’s a relationship that could have ended swiftly. After initially dating for three months, Sascha was ready to leave Edinburgh and travel to America. “Miguel said, ‘I am moving to Australia and I said, ‘no you’re not, we’re just having fun, that’s it!’,” she laughs of her horrified reaction.
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