Need to get some inspiration in the cooking department? What better time to speak with Gaby Dalkin food blogger “What’s Gaby Cooking” and friendly chef? Here’s a picky eater who decided to go right at food, and enjoy eating an array of cultural cuisines without all the fuss. You may know Gaby from her California inspired Blog started in 2009 or from her easy to follow books.
Listen to the episode here:
- What’s Gaby Cooking? Blog [00:08:31]
- The Picky Eater, Pre-Med Chef [00:10:44]
- The Digital Show Opportunity [00:17:40]
- Being Perfect [00:21:47]
- Relationship and Business [00:24:39]
- On Gaby’s Miscarriages [00:31:16]
- Getting Comfortable in Cooking [00:36:54]
- Getting Ideas for Recipes [00:45:20]
- Entrepreneurship Lessons [00:47:29]
- Ingredient to a Successful Relationship [00:49:00]
- Quarantine and the Small Things [00:51:29]
- Gaby’s Big End Dream [00:53:45]
Gaby Dalkin – Turning Passion into Profession with What’s Gaby Cooking Founder
I hope you guys are doing good. In this episode, we’re going to change it up a little bit. We’ve been talking a lot about COVID as we should, trying to gather some helpful information. We’re going to talk to Gaby Dalkin, who is a Chef. We are going to talk about cooking at home. We’re also discussing how you turn your passions into your job.
What you start to see about Gaby is she’s equal parts entrepreneur as she is a chef. That is something that she has a great balance of. She’s a person who’s willing to take a job even if she doesn’t know exactly what she’s doing. She trusts herself that she’ll work hard enough to figure out how to make that. A lot of us sometimes are reluctant to try new things because we’re afraid of failing or we think we’re not ready. Maybe the truth is we’re never ready. We only get that experience by doing.
She shares some tales about marrying her college sweetheart and then them eventually working together and how they navigate those gears. You’re working together and you’re talking about work. Maybe one needs to be the boss and one needs to trust. When they flip, the other one is now the boss, and the other one’s listening, and then when they need to abandon that altogether, put their phones away, and connect us as partners and as people.
She also shares with us some personal stuff about suffering some miscarriages and has a positive and healthy attitude about going through that. Her strength, resilience, creativity, and ease are much-needed voices right now. Lastly, if we are cooking at home, let’s not do the same old, same old. Let’s play. Let’s try something new. Maybe if we don’t have a lot of extra time, money, and resources at this time, how can we do that easily? I hope you enjoy.
When I think about you and you’ve made your profession around food, what keeps coming up for me though is what an entrepreneur you are. I want to talk about that first because many people have passions or they want to try something. It’s about understanding an entrepreneur’s mindset that then you can apply to anything. You’ve applied it to food and cooking. You have things like Williams- Sonoma, books, and things like that. I would like to know if maybe you could back up a little bit. Also, using the internet early. I want to know how you were like, “That’s a good idea.”
I was not the first adopter of Instagram, Twitter, or anything like that but I did start a blog at the same time I started private shopping for Simone, one of our mutual friends. It was the ugliest place I’ve ever seen in my life. The blog was hideous back in the day.
When you say ugly, do you mean the aesthetic of it?
Yeah. My photography was horrific. If you go back several years, it looks like a dog took that photo. I was using flash. It was bad. I knew that I wanted to chronicle my time in culinary school and cooking for this family and show people in my life that I learned to eat mushrooms, steak, or different kinds of cheese. I was the pickiest eater growing up. My way of communicating that with everyone was via this blog, which, at the time, was hosted on BlogSpot, which probably doesn’t even exist anymore. I started and I also grew up.
I remember back when I was young, my mom wouldn’t let me have a cell phone until I was 16. When I got my phone when I was 16 years old, I was obsessed with it. My obsession with technology started then and then I needed to be on it all the time. I don’t know if that’s good or bad but it’s been great. It’s good or bad for my personal health but, for my business, it’s fantastic. I started the blog early on. To be honest, I didn’t know I could turn it into something like what I’ve done right now.
As the years passed, I realized, “This has some legs to it. If I focus all of my attention on it, maybe I can make it into something.” As soon as the blog started making a little bit of money, equal to what I was making and cooking for different families, I was like, “If I’m going to make this work, I’m going to jump all in right now. I’m young. I’ve saved up money. If it fails, no problem. If I’m going to try, I have to try now.”
You said that you were a picky eater.
Do you get this relationship with food because you’re trying to remedy it and make it so that you can tolerate food? What happens there that you got into food?
Yes, I wanted to make up for the lost time. I remember having shrimp for the first time in college and I called my mom, I was like, “Why didn’t I have shrimp until I was 20? This is amazing.” I was making up for the lost time. I also loved feeding people. I love the camaraderie and what happens when you get people around a table and they sit down and they share food. That gives me so much joy. I feel fortunate that I’ve been able to turn my career that revolves around that. Watching that community happen every time is why I continue going where I was going.
Do you think your taste buds changed or you needed to get exposed to different kinds of food? What do you think it was?
When I was in culinary school, my teacher was like, “If you don’t learn how to make mushrooms and eat them, you’re never going to make it in the food world.” I was like, “That’s a personal challenge.” I love that. That’s the athlete in me. I grew up playing tennis. If someone tells me I can’t do something, I will go show you how I can do it. That’s my favorite. Also, as I was exposed to different foods, my taste buds changed. I ate at different restaurants, street food vendors, and all that kind of stuff and it expanded my knowledge of food and the people who make it and all that stuff.
When you went to college, did you know what you were going to study?
I was pre-med. I took a hard left.
Were your parents bummed?
Your dad is a doctor, right?
Yeah, my dad’s a doctor. I remember I was starting O chem or something and I called him and I was like, “Dad, I’m not going to be able to do this.”
[bctt tweet=”It’s important for us to talk about our family if we’re going to build our family.”]
Organic Chemistry has ticked a few people.
I was a straight A student until I got to that class and I got an F on my first test. I was like, “Nope, that’s not going on my record.” That was a no.
You’re in college and you’re pre-med. It feels grown up to me. You’re like, “I’m pre-law and medicine.” It feels grown-up and career-oriented. There’s something that’s instilled in you that feels like, “I’m going to have a career.”
When you’re a doctor, a lawyer, or a teacher, you have a set career. What I did, there’s no career path. When I jumped into What’s Gaby Cooking full time, it was terrifying because where do you go?
How do you get from pre-med to culinary?
In college, I was on the tennis team and that’s where I met my husband, Thomas. He was on the men’s tennis team and I was on the women’s. I would cook for everyone on the teams before matches. We would carb load, chicken parm pasta on repeat.
Is it the gathering part? I enjoy cooking quite a bit. One of my daughters likes cooking. For you, were you already touching on that creative element? Was it like, “I’m going to do something for a lot of people I like.”
It was the gathering element because I only cooked one thing for all of college and that was chicken parm and pasta. I was a full carb. The gathering of it is special to me. I would cook for everyone at tennis in college. After college, I got a job. I switched to a business degree and got a job in the business field working at a fashion PR marketing company.
The company folded six months after I started because it was in 2008 and things took a downward turn. Instead of getting another job or looking for one, I decided, “I’m going to go to culinary school just for fun.” I wanted to learn how to cook for myself, Thomas, my friends, and my family. That’s when I started the blog. Cooking for Simone, it snowballed.
Were you still in culinary school when you were already cooking for Simone?
Yeah. I had no business cooking for them for the first six months.
Were there four kids there?
Four kids all with different dietary restrictions.
By the way, sophisticated palates and demanding clear-cut opinions.
They love Nobu. Did I know how to cook fish? Absolutely not. I was faking it for the first 3 to 4 weeks until I got some skills under my belt in culinary school. Things went up and up. They are saints to have put up with me for that first month.
How do you do that? You always hear, “Be that until you are it. Fake it till you make it.” All those sayings. A lot of times, you’ll hear people talk about the body of evidence. It’s like, “I haven’t done this before but I have a body of evidence that I have figured out other things.” You figured out how to play tennis. You’ve got through high school. I’m sure you figured out a lot of other things before this. What was fueling you that you go, “I’m not in my best place right now but I’m going to figure this out.”
It comes back to being an athlete. I knew that when I was losing a tennis match, I didn’t want to lose. I wanted to grind it out and win. I had to figure out a way to turn it around and change. Maybe that was a mental switch that I had to turn or I needed to do a different style of tennis or maybe I needed to pay attention instead of looking at all the cute boys that were watching my match. You figure it out. That’s innately in my being.
Also, I feel fortunate because Simone and his family, they’re German and I’m German. I felt like I was very much a part of their family right when I started. It was a good fit. I wanted to learn how to do all these things for myself, them, my now husband, and friends. It was me trying to grind through it and get to the good stuff.
How long is culinary school? How long does someone need to go until it’s like, “Birdie, fly. You’re on your own.”
I did six months of culinary school and a six-month pastry program that I ended up dropping out of a month before because I got a cavity. I also got my first opportunity to be on TV. I was like, “This is cool. I have to pursue it.” I was like, “I’m never going to make croissants ever again. I’m out.” I failed on pastry. It was a condensed program and way cheaper than Cordon Bleu or something like that, which I didn’t want to pay for. I had done four years of college. They have something similar if you’re in LA, it’s called New School of Cooking over in Culver City and it’s amazing. You come out of there knowing exactly what you would in a larger program and you’re competent in the kitchen.
You get this opportunity to be on TV. What opportunity is that? Is this in 2009-ish?
2010. It was a digital show and was called Good Bite. I was the talent and I did a twenty-episode series or something. I don’t even know if they’re available but I would not watch them now because I had no idea what I was doing. It was that first chance someone gave me to get on camera and I found quickly that I loved it. The first couple of episodes are rough because I didn’t know how to talk to the camera. I didn’t know how to make the people watching feel like my friends. I was clueless. I learned as I went how to make it more personable. That’s helped me grow my brand like Insta TV, IG Live, and all that stuff. It all started back in 2010.
For a lot of people, they might even have opportunities. Your initiative to do the blog, that’s one element. Laird always says that there’s only one first day. For a lot of people, they’re afraid of failing. They let that get in the way when someone goes, “Do you want to do this?” It becomes the real-life classroom. It’s twenty episodes of hosting something. Had you been on camera before?
You’re just saying, “I’m going to go for it,” and putting the idea of failure somewhere else. It seems like you’re geared towards thinking, “This is a great opportunity and an opportunity to learn more.” It seems like almost failure wasn’t part of the thing that would inhibit you.
I also think failing is part of growing. My parents, when I grew up, always made us figure everything out on our own for the most part. If I got in a fight with my best friend, “Figure it, Gaby. You have to go deal with that. I’m not going to call their mom for you.” That made me get over my fear of failing early because if I needed something done, I had to go through it by myself.
Yes, they guided me and gave me advice and all that stuff but in the hard conversations, I had to do. They also told me and taught me that it’s okay to fail. Failing is what’s going to make you even better next time. I always tell people now when I’m mentoring them or they’re asking me for advice, you go to try it. If it’s a complete bomb, cool. Take that, learn from it, move on, do it again, and keep going for it. No one is going to hand you what you want. You got to figure it out on your own.
Have you discovered that maybe, first, you’re into communicating and you’re using cooking as a way to do that versus, “I’m a chef that’s communicating.” It sounds to me that you enjoy communication and exploration and you’re using cooking and food as a vehicle for that.
I’ve never thought about it that way but you’re spot on. My goal is for people to be fearless in the kitchen and in their lives. I teach them that via cooking. Yes, that’s a great way of putting it. I’m going to tell my mom that I’ve never thought of that before.
I’ve observed you from afar. Knowing we were going to speak today, I was like, “This is what it feels like.” I have to say, I’m quite a bit older than you are. When I was coming up or when I was doing whatever, MTV sports or other types of television, because it was sporty, I would go and I wouldn’t have makeup on and I’d have my hair in a ponytail.
The other thing I find interesting, and I don’t know if this is strange, is that your generation is a little more perfect. Everything looks pretty good like the eyelashes and the skin. It’s like, “How’s that face that shape?” I have to say one thing that I noticed, I was like, “Gaby is letting it be how it is.” Is that conscious? I’m interested in that because I’m personally fascinated about trying to sustain an image of being perfect because I know that it’s pretty difficult.
That’s not realistic. That’s not what anyone wakes up looking like. I would rather spend my time doing something good for my body, cooking, or being with my friends than spend an hour getting ready every morning. Also, I suck at it. I can’t do my own hair and I’m bad at doing my own makeup. Maybe I can put on some tinted moisturizer and mascara if I’m lucky. Otherwise, I have other things I would rather spend my time doing.
I also don’t think that that’s a healthy thing to show our youth. I have a lot of young people watching me and learning how to cook. I know moms watch me with their kids. I don’t want them to look at me and think, “She spent so much time on her hair, her nails, and her makeup. We have to do that in order to be happy.” I want to show them that you can be happy without spending time or money on that.
Do people ever comment?
All the time.
I went back and went a little deeper and I was like, “Oh.” What happens to a lot of people sometimes too is when you start getting more and more successful or known for something, it is natural for people to feel pressure to live up to something versus keep doing what they’re doing, trusting that, and having that confidence. Another important element for people to remember is that no matter what you’re doing, it doesn’t have to be on camera. If it starts to work, leave it and keep doing what you do. don’t worry about, “What will they think? Is the expectation that there are no cracks and that I’m perfect?”
Not so much pressure to have on yourself. If I had to look perfect every time I went on camera, I would never go on camera because something would always be off. Especially during quarantine time, everyone who has a full glam squad, I don’t know what they’re doing. That’s too much. I get a lot of comments about that. People are thankful that I’m real about it. We need more of that in today’s world.
You and Thomas met in college. What year were you married?
We got married in 2013.
You indirectly have been together.
We met in 2008. We started dating in 2009. It’s 2020 now.
Especially for your age.
We met when we were children.
I know Thomas is doing other things but it feels like you have your relationship and then I see that it has intertwined, probably because it made sense, in you running the Gaby Inc. together.
For the longest time, Thomas was in the advertising industry. He worked at 72AndSunny, Chiat Day, and all these places. Incredible agencies. I always was like, “You should come on What’s Gaby Cooking full time.” He was adamant, “No. I’m not doing it. We’re not mixing our relationship and business. It’s tough.” He founded a startup with one of our friends. They weren’t who we thought they were so we failed on the startup. I was like, “Now’s the time to come on.”
He had been moonlighting and helping me with What’s Gaby Cooking Insta Lives and all the tech side of it and producing a lot of the content. The first 3 to 4 weeks were quite rocky because he was used to going into an office every day and not being together all the time. We quickly learned that we needed different offices and areas in the house. It’s been incredible ever since. It was a steep learning curve for that first month.
Your partner intuitively is going to know what the brand is better than any person you could ever hire. It would be like someone saying, “She would never say that.” It’s the little things that make the whole thing seem authentic or authentic. I’m interested if you have any secrets. I have quite a few friends. I work together with Laird here and there. It’s not quite that way. This is silly but it’s true. If we’re producing content and I have to “direct” Laird. People say, “Do you tell Laird?” I’m like, “I don’t tell Laird anything.” I will direct him because he’ll be on camera and I know what I’m needing to get.
Also, I’m protective of him. I know when I’m trying to get the information I’m trying to get and I’m also trying to make him look good. I’m not going to lie. What I do is I stand behind who’s shooting him and I turn around. What I’m doing is listening but he doesn’t have to see my eyes. All I do is hear and listen.
Also, I’m his wife. If I have to make a suggestion, I’d make it super objective. I don’t even turn around unless it’s something that has to be beaten through like the message, we got to iron it out. I’ll be like, “Can you try like this? Friendly or something.” It’s such a funny thing because I’m trying to figure out how to work with my partner but, in a way, that almost doesn’t provoke him.
When people stand near or behind or around the camera, they don’t realize that everything they do, every move they make, you can see it can see. You’re like, “You want me to address the camera and you’re moving around back there.” People don’t realize what a distraction that is. Do you and Thomas have any gearshift secrets? You have separate working spaces. Even rules, maybe at times, he’s got to be the boss at work and you can surrender that even though the work is built around you.
We both have our superpowers. He is much better at certain things than I am and we know what those things are. When he’s giving me advice about what my website looks like or he’s listening to me talk to the camera when I’m recording something and he’s like, “You forgot about this.” I’m going a mile a minute and sometimes I forget about things. He’ll chime in and say it.
There are certain times when I’m like, “Nope, keep going. Got to go.” I know if it’s important and he’s passionate about it, I listen. The same goes and vice versa. I trust him implicitly. He knows my brand better than anyone except for me. I know if he’s giving me advice, he’s not doing it to make me embarrassed or feel bad about how I did it or something like that. He’s doing it to better the brand. We both have different buckets that we’re good at so knowing what his are when he brings that up, I know what he’s talking about is important.
We also are in quarantine when this comes out. It’s fascinating to spend a lot of time with your partner. They say the same thing, “I’m wonderful every moment.” When you work together, you almost have better practice about trying to find not only those personal space moments but then gearshift from co-working together and as business partners to lovers to this other side. Do you guys find it easy to slip from roll the roll? Also, without work. When you go to dinner, do you ever gauge, like, “How much of this conversation is based on our work?”
[bctt tweet=”Failing is part of growing.”]
Thomas and I have made conscious efforts not to do that. There are times when I’m proud of myself when we go out for dinner and I leave my phone in the car or at home and I’m not checking my DMs or I’m not responding to any emails or anything like that. It’s easy because we are fluid when we work together. It’s to do that all the time.
I always think about it, I’m like, “It’s time to turn off. I can save all this for tomorrow. Let’s watch a movie together or have dinner or go for a walk or whatever it is and not talk about work.” Sometimes it comes up inevitably because we think about it a lot. It’s important for us to talk about our families like how we’re going to build a family, our house, the design, and turn our minds off of What’s Gaby Cooking so we don’t ever burn out of it.
You made this public and I only want to talk about what’s comfortable but you brought it up about building a family. You’ve had a few miscarriages. There’s pressure. One miscarriage, okay. There’s pressure around sex. There’s the self-talk, “Will I ever be able to?” All these things. You seem to be pretty fierce and strong. You’re a brave face. You’re joking about your family being German but it’s that pull yourself up from your bootstraps kind of thing. It’s only what you’re comfortable with. How does that impact you as a couple? Personally, how do you keep your mind not letting it get in there in a way that’s unproductive for anyone?
We’ve been going through miscarriages now for the better part of over two and a half years. We’ve had a lot of time to think about this and talk about it. The reason I made it public was that I was getting questions. Every Insta Live, every day on DM, “You guys are so cute. When are you going to have kids?” I get it. I get that you’re excited for us to be parents. I made the mistake of doing that to my friends years ago before I knew what this whole process was like.
I made it public because I wanted people to stop asking me selfishly. I want people to think about the fact that if you’re asking someone that isn’t as strong or comfortable with miscarriages, perhaps Thomas and I are, that hurt someone’s feelings. That can damage someone’s day. We look at it like, “We have awesome lives right now.” It’s not a joke but I’m like, “Sorry, this keeps happening.” He’s like, “I wouldn’t trade our lives with anyone else’s life. We’ve created an incredible home for ourselves and a beautiful life together. We’ll have a kid one way or another however that happens.”
He’s been incredibly supportive about it. He’s going through it all too. Yes, he doesn’t have to have every procedure and all that stuff done to his body but he’s in the room with me. I made him be in the room with me a couple of times he shouldn’t have been. We’re not going to do that again. He’s been supportive. I feel like we’re in it as a team. We know that no matter what happens, if we don’t have a family, we’re still going to have incredible lives. We have many friends who have kids. He’s like an awesome uncle. We have so much fun. Whatever happens, happens. It’s been an interesting ride for the last couple of years.
By the way, you do have a family. You have each other. I’m always fascinated. People date. People then go, “When are you getting married?” They ask that question. Once you’re married, they go, “When are you going to have a kid?” You have one kid and then they go, “When are you going to have another kid?” People are doing it how they do it.
My oldest daughter was going through something in her life and I said, “If you can figure out how to make yourself happy in this life and be your best self, whatever that is, and you’re not hurting anyone or yourself, bravo.” People don’t realize that for you to have a thriving relationship and be following your dreams, it’s a pretty good start. Thomas said that if you want to have kids, you will.
We’ll adopt. We’ll do IVF. We have many options. I could give a class on fertility now. Between buying a house and going through all this fertility stuff, I have many new vocabulary words I never thought I would have before. Also, if this is going to happen to anyone in my life, I’m happy that it happened to me because now I get the chance to educate other people about it and help friends who are going through something similar to what I went through. It’s like, “It’s okay and you’re going to come out on the other end. Here’s how I dealt with it. You’re going to deal with it differently.” That’s an incredible gift that I’ve been given to be able to help other people in my life.
If you had the 2 or 3 things that you got from this that you walked away with, what is it?
We are all way stronger than we think. Our bodies can handle a lot of things. Two, you have to bring your own sunshine. If something’s keeping you down, no one’s going to turn it around for you. You have to find what makes you happy and do that to pull yourself out of anything. That could be upsetting because, at the end of the day, that’s what you’ve got.
Do you guys ever play tennis against each other?
No. Thomas won’t play with me.
He’s a smart guy.
I’m dying to get back out there and play.
He’s like, “That will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”
Thomas is not a professional golfer. He doesn’t golf at all during quarantine but he’s into the golf life. I noticed that it takes too long. It’s like, “Let’s play tennis for 45 minutes.”
With golf, Laird is like, “I’ve never done anything that takes too long where I didn’t do anything.” It’s usually not that happy.
You’re never happy. Let’s do an incredible round, which is never.
What sport? Every ball counts, even against you. In basketball, every time you shot, you missed, and you lost two points.
It isn’t exciting. I’m sticking with tennis.
Let’s move to food. Let’s talk about food. Let’s talk about your approach on normal days. We’re in an interesting moment. The fact that people are going to get ill and die, there’s going to be a lot of sadness. I also think we’re all getting like, “That’s right.” It’s clear. I needed to go to the store and realize how excessive we can be in abundance of everything all the time and everywhere. People will say this all the time, they must say this to you, “I don’t have time to cook.”
All the time.
I don’t know how. I don’t like it. It’s expensive. It takes a lot of time. Maybe we can talk about that. If people were in their day-to-day, going 9:00 to 5:00, trying to run after kids, and figuring out 30 minutes to squeeze in some exercise, maybe you can give me your thoughts on how people can approach this because you’re a pro.
Cooking is all about getting comfortable. If you’re someone who doesn’t have a lot of time on their hands, got kids running around the house, you’re maybe working from home, which is new to you, you’ve never done something like that before. The key is to get your family involved and turn it into an activity so everyone can come together at the end of the day. Maybe some of your kids can help you like rip lettuce apart to make a salad or chop some tomatoes or whatever it is and turn it into a little bit of a game.
Pick something and get comfortable doing it. Maybe it’s grilling, now that spring is coming and maybe we can all be outside. Start grilling something. When you get comfortable with that, add something to it like add a sauce. Put something in your Vitamix or your blender and blend it up and put it on top. When you reach those moments where you achieve something and you’re like, “That was the best grilled chicken I’ve ever made,” or, “That basil vinegar was the bomb,” you’re so proud of yourself and you want to do it more.
Into the effect of cooking is expensive or it takes a lot of time, we’ve Postmates stuff in our lives. I Postmates sugar fish all the time. It takes so much longer to get that delivered than it would be for me to make a Pokeball and it’s way more expensive to order in. We have created a society where it’s easy to have everything delivered or pick it up on our way home or something like that. Quarantine has taught a lot of people a lot of things.
I’ve been watching my traffic and my engagement and people are cooking so much now. They’re like, “How do I make beans? How do I boil pasta?” Back to the basics. That’s a silver lining. People are learning that they can be very self-sufficient and cook for themselves or their family and become competent in the kitchen.
If you had a vegetarian who doesn’t cook, would you have some starting tips? It’s funny because when you say basil vinaigrette, the person who doesn’t cook thinks, “I can’t.” Even that sounds like, “When’s the last time people want to store and bought basil?” These things are not hard.
Vinaigrette such as that, you have no chopping, you put it on the blender, put it on for one minute, and it’s going to change your life. For vegetarians, those sauces are game changers because you could toss that with pasta, rice, or some beans. It feels like that’s an incredible meal. Also, learning how to build a good salad, having a stocked fridge with some different kinds of lettuce, maybe cheese or two, and some veggies left over that you roasted earlier in the week. That can change the game for anyone, let alone if you’re a vegetarian or not.
Do you cook even when you don’t have to or is it your time to explore other food? I know you guys travel a lot for your job, places with all this beautiful food. When you’re not on for work, are you like, “I want someone else to feed me.” Are you still cooking at home?
I’m still cooking at home. I remember when I first started cooking, it was therapeutic. I loved it. Now it’s less therapeutic because it is work. When I’m not on camera or I’m not doing something that is work-related and I’m cooking, I still have so much fun because it is like back to the old days of chopping and experimenting with flavors and techniques and all that stuff. I feel like I don’t do that all the time.
With the quarantine, I haven’t had any dinner meetings, lunch meetings, or anything like that. I’m cooking every meal. We’re ordering and supporting some of our favorite local restaurants. For the most part, we’re cooking everything. It’s also a cool way to travel. Right now, none of us are traveling. it’s a great way to travel through your kitchen.
I made Thai one night. We’ll probably do some coconut curry in the near future because I have coconut milk on hand. If you are getting the itch to travel or you normally travel a lot or whatever it is, do something in your kitchen that makes you feel like you’re in a different country or you’re in a different culture and bring it home.
You have three cookbooks.
The third one comes out.
Besides the cookbooks, if people go and they find you, are you giving away also recipes? You have the ones on your social media and things like that. There’s a funny thing about information, there’s so much of it. I see this in self-care and, whatever it’s called, health and fitness. It’s so much information that people are either like, “I’m overwhelmed. I don’t know what I should do.” Looking for people to curate that information for them. At no time in history have there been more recipes out there.
For me, it’s great because I have cooked for a long time. When I need inspiration, I can go online, and I can quickly decipher, “I can pull that one. That recipe, forget it. I can’t pull that right now.” How would you encourage people whether we’re in quarantine or not? My whole thing is wanting people to take care of themselves not only through the food they’re eating but the gathering. We forget to slow down for a moment and gather whether it’s with our friends, our partners, and little ones, or whatever. Maybe if you said, “This is step A for trying to navigate that sea of overwhelming information.”
You’d have to find a place or a person that you trust. A lot of people are also scared to make a recipe and waste money on those ingredients. If you find someone, ask a friend, or ask anyone. Someone in your circle is going to be like, “Get recipes from here.” You find that place that you trust and go there and start to get comfortable with the way they speak and the way they write.
Use that to stop and have that gathering moment. That’s where things can bloom and become beautiful. Growing up, I knew that the garden is queen. If I want to make something, I’m going to make it too. I feel like when you have that friendship or camaraderie with someone who you’ve never met before and you trust them and that’s where you go to bring it all back and cook and kick it off.
Do you have anything that you feel like, “I haven’t gotten quite good yet.” I used to joke that I finally learned how to cook fish several years ago. Maybe it’s because I’m not a big fan of cooked fish. I was uninspired. The joke is I had a rice curse for a while. I could cook these elaborate dinners but somehow, I had a rice curse. I tried it all. I let it go and then somehow it worked out. Do you have anything where you’re like, “Oh, man.”
I haven’t mastered Persian food and I would like to.
What is it about Persian food?
Do you know that rice dish that has a crispy bottom? I can’t do it. I’m too impatient to let the rice crisp up on the bottom. I should do that now that we’re in quarantine and practice because I have an abundance of rice and start doling it out to my neighbors. For me, ethnic food is something I want to spend more time focusing on and curating a pantry that has every sort of Thai flavor and stuff like that so I can be comfortable cooking that stuff. That would be amazing.
What you’re saying is important for people to understand the patience in developing your pantry and your spices. You don’t want to go to the store one time and buy every single spice for one thing. You want to slowly build it into something if you go, “This is something that’s going to become a part of our lives. I’m going to dedicate time and money to curating these and bringing these home.” That’s an important thing. Otherwise, it can feel overwhelming.
It’s expensive. No one wants to buy all that at once. If you buy coconut milk and curry powder and that’s where you start, awesome. Maybe you can add lemongrass or something like that later. Slow rolling it and getting comfortable with one thing before you make it to the second step of the ladder are super important in cooking.
[bctt tweet=”My goal is for people to be fearless in the kitchen and their lives.”]
You produce a lot of content. First of all, where do you get the ideas?
It used to be from traveling before we were not getting on planes. For me, I have an open relationship with my audience also. I like to pull them and see what they’re looking for frequently. I always want to be of service to them. I never want them to be like, “What is Gabi doing? This is not helpful to me.” Traveling and bringing those things I see at home into my kitchen so other people can travel via their kitchen is incredible.
My audience is a huge source of inspiration. Also, generally talking to people, when I used to go to the gym every day and see, “What do my trainers like to eat? What are they looking for?” Having that open line of communication is important when you’re creating content because you want it to be beneficial for everybody watching.
People don’t realize that it’s a lot.
I’m also fortunate that I have a husband who can produce all my video content and my two best friends that shoot all my photography content.
By the way, it looks so good.
Thank you. Matt and Adam are my best friends. They’re married. Matt is a photographer and Adam is a food stylist and they’re talented at their jobs.
The days of using the flash are over now.
We moved on.
Food in real life looks so beautiful and then you take a picture and you’re like, “That didn’t really get it.”
It’s true but the key is to buy a natural light source. If all else fails, go directly overhead. Make sure you can see the scene. If you’re at a beautiful table, show me what the table looks like. Is there salt and pepper? Are there cocktails there? Give it a moment so it feels like everyone else can live in it as well.
Let’s go through the different sides of your personality. If you could give the most important lessons in your entrepreneurship, let’s say someone goes, “I wanted to try something.” What would you say to them if they are afraid? This is an upside-down time. Even still, most of us lock into what’s safe.
My favorite piece of advice that someone ever gave me and that I give people is if you want something, go out there and ask for it. if someone says no, go find someone else who’s going to help you get there. I always joke, I’m fully capable of paying for my flight home for Thanksgiving. I’ll ask my mom if she’ll do it because if I don’t ask, she’ll never have the opportunity to maybe say yes. If she says no, okay. In its simplest form, that’s what it comes down to. You’ve got to go out there and try it and see if you can make something happen. You’re going to find someone to say yes eventually. You just might have to change how you’re asking or what you’re asking. You got to learn.
After being in a relationship for a nice amount of years and growing up together, you’re the same people you were when you met and different. You’re both probably very different. Is there something, now looking at that, that you think is part of why it has been successful? I have to say that in a lot of relationships that work well, people will go, “How come it works well?” You can give them, “Here are ten reasons why it works well.”
It starts with chemistry. I’ve always said this, people have natural chemistry. You even have that with your friends where there’s a shorthand in a language. I’ll assume that you and Thomas have natural chemistry. Is there something that you think, “These couple things have been why we can navigate our relationship.”
For us, it comes down to communication. I am very much like, “Go. Go.” Thomas isn’t all the time. I had to learn that we needed to sometimes take a pause and have those difficult conversations. I needed to listen. I couldn’t be like, “Uh-huh.” I needed to sit down and we needed to talk it through. Also, this sounds so cheesy but someone once told us to do that love language test and we did it and we’re polar opposites.
Thomas is quality time and physical touch and I’m words of affirmation and acts of service. Knowing that about each other and how we receive love and affection and all that was helpful because I know that what I need is not what I need to give Thomas. Does that make sense? What I need is one thing and the way I have to then feed it out to Thomas is different. Does that make sense?
It makes a lot of sense. I’ve been in a relationship for over 24 years. It’s the most sense.
Sometimes it seems overwhelming. If you think, “This relationship has some legs.” There are some relationships where you go, “Maybe call it.” If you think, “We have some legs here. I need to get some fine-tuning.” The fine-tuning changes and continues. Your relationship has to be maintained all along. Laird is way more sensitive than I am but it’s this great balance and reminder. If you were with someone like you or I was with somebody like me, it would probably be executing well, everything would be on time, it would be scheduled, and there’d be a lot of productivity. The soft, the soul, and the heart.
In a way, it sounds like Thomas is helping bring more of that and reminding you to bring it, which ultimately is good for you too. I have that in my situation where I go, “We could get it done and hit the marks.” Laird is like, “Can you please put your phone down?” He hugs me for long periods of time. I’m like, “I’ve got stuff to do.” I’m thankful I have a person who reminds some of the things that are the most important. We could be productive all we want. At this moment, we realize, “What are we doing here?”
The quarantine has taken us all down a couple of notches and reminded us what’s important. I remember growing up, we did puzzles and we played board games. I haven’t touched one of those in ages. We’re playing games every night or play cards. We also pick up the phone and call people now. It’s been incredible to see what three weeks have done. We’re on three weeks of quarantine when we were filming this. Three weeks changed people’s vibes already.
For me, I want to be on my phone list. Also, it’s interesting because, in a way, we’re into our technology since 2007 and 2008. We’ve had smartphones. Slowly but surely, we’re connecting digitally but we’re connecting less in person. What is fascinating is part of me feels like nature is also saying to us, “You want to isolate and you want to do that. This is what it looks like.”
Instead of realizing, “Spending that time with those people or going for a walk. What do you mean, you shut the beach?” You shut the path. You shut the park. People can be next to the park for years. They never go into the park. All of a sudden, it’s like, “You can’t go to the park.” “I want to go to the park.” It’s in the air a little bit of that. It’s for a sad reason but I’m hoping, collectively, we come out tethered to some of these more important ideas.
You got to look at the silver lining. My trainer who’s doing these Insta Live workout classes, I miss going to the gym and seeing everyone and giving them a hug so much. I took it for granted. You’re right, we’re all going to come out of this maybe a little bit more level-headed and maybe we’re all going to wash our hands a little bit more. That’ll be a huge silver lining.
Do you have a big end-game dream in your mind? Is there something where you go, “I’m working and I see this thing or I feel it in the pit of my stomach.”
I would love to have What’s Gaby Cooking be as big and, in people’s minds, like a Martha Stewart Brand or Bethenny Frankel or something like that. Martha minus jail time. She’s still a queen but I’m not cut out for jail. She’s such a boss. I would love to make What’s Gaby Cooking a household name like that, whether that’s through coming out with different products, continuing to do books, TV, or whatever it is. It’s fun to live in this digital world because the sky’s the limit. There are no career paths for what we’re all doing. Who knows what will come next? I started a podcast. Who thought that would happen? I didn’t.
Thank you. It’s called What’s Gaby Cooking in Quarantine.
If you had any last things that you wanted to remind people or encourage them about, now’s your time.
I want them to figure out what makes them happy and confident and rock it. That’s, at our core, what we all need and that’s what’s going to help all of us thrive as a society. You just got to go for it.
Gaby, you are a good example of that. I want to say congratulations. Watching you from the Herrera house to here, you’re a living example of somebody who says, “I’m going to do it.” You do the work that it takes to do it because it’s not easy, I know that.
The fact that you’re building your life in and around it is a special color to it. People appreciate it. Remind everyone where they can find you and all the places.
Do you eat a lot or do you eat a little of everything you make?
I would think that I probably eat as much as Laird. I can put it down. That’s why I work out every day, otherwise, I’d be 900 pounds.
It’s funny because I know Giada De Laurentiis for over twenty-something years. I’ve never seen anyone with this restraint. Do you know when something tastes so good that you want to eat a lot of it?
A bite or two. How do you do that?
That’s not in my body. I have none of those genes.
Thank you for spending time with me.
Thanks, Gabby. You’re the best. I remember when I first started cooking for Simone, she was like, “One of my best friends is a Gabby.” I was like, “I’m a Gaby.” She’s like, “This is a lot to wrap my mind around.” Thank you. Bye.
Thanks so much for reading. If you’d like, rate, subscribe, and leave us a review. All of my music was graciously done by Frank Zummo and Tom Thacker. If you want to see some of the behind-the-scenes action, follow me, @GabbyReece. Remember, don’t miss new episodes every Monday.
Subscribe to The Gabby Reece Show
- Gaby Dalkin
- What’s Gaby Cooking in Quarantine
- Eat What You Want: 125 Recipes for Real Life
About Gaby Dalkin
Gaby Dalkin is a cookbook author, chef, and food/lifestyle writer based in Los Angeles. She launched her popular website, What’s Gaby Cooking, in 2009 after graduating from college. Packed with recipes, the site is a playful, fun, inspiring, sun-soaked destination for everyone who aspires to live the California life. Dalkin is the author of Absolutely Avocados and launched a line of products with Williams Sonoma. Her new book, What’s Gaby Cooking: Everyday California will be released April 2018 from Abrams. She is also a Co-Founder of Inspo (2017), a video-based content and commerce platform for creators.