From Mexico to Kelowna: Childhood friends reconnect, start cooking together

Israel Camarillo, who owns El Taquero in Kelowna, jumped at the opportunity to hire an old childhood friend from Mexico after they reconnected over Facebook.

'It's just love,' says Israel Camarillo who helped his childhood friend move to B.C.

Childhood friends, Israel Camarillo (left) and Edmundo Espinosa reconnected a couple of years ago on Facebook and now work together in Kelowna. (Alya Ramadan/CBC)

Childhood friends Israel Camarillo and Edmundo Espinosa hadn't seen each other in over thirty years, but after reconnecting on social media Camarillo decided to help his old friend start a new life in B.C.

Camarillo, who owns El Taquero in Kelowna, has always strived to make his business a family restaurant, so when his friendship with Espinosa rekindled, he offered him a job.

"I love him and I trust him with my business and more importantly I trust him with my family," said Camarillo, 40, the same age as Espinosa.

Camarillo and Espinosa now work side by side at El Taquero after not seeing each other for 30 years. (Alya Ramadan/ CBC)

It all started when Espinosa found Camarillo on Facebook and saw that his friend owned a restaurant in Canada— although he had no idea where. He congratulated Camarillo on his success and their conversations began.

"I told Mundo, 'We haven't seen each other [in years] but it feels like we just saw yesterday.' I feel the same amount of love that I feel for him since we were kids," Camarillo said.

"He started telling me, 'I have a restaurant. Why don't you come and stay here and work together and make all of this better?," said Espinosa.

Camarillo and his wife were looking for a chef at the time and conducted interviews with three other candidates. But Espinosa, a pastry chef,  seemed like the perfect fit. So Camarillo offered to help him and his family relocate to Kelowna.

Camarillo bases all of the dishes at El Taquero on his family's recipes from Mexico. (Alya Ramadan/ CBC)

"I could not believe this dream," Espinosa said.

"He was so honest that you could tell in a phone call ... that he was willing, by heart, to provide this type of support. It's like a brother."

Espinosa has since moved to Kelowna with his wife and two daughters and has been working at El Taquero for the past few months.

"There's no logic to it. It's just love," said Camarillo. "The only reason why we did it is because we love each other."

With files from Daybreak South and Alya Ramadan.

Israel Camarillo, who owns El Taquero in Kelowna, jumped at the opportunity to hire an old childhood friend from Mexico after they reconnected over Facebook. 4:41