Sunday Inspiration: Lunch with Gabriel of The Selden Standard
Welcome to our Sunday Inspiration series where we feature inspirational individuals living out their dreams in the worlds of food and travel.
Join us as we discover the passions, challenges, and motivations that drive these unique creators to quit their 9-5s and embark on their entrepreneurial journeys.
Today we’re speaking with Gabriel, a mixologist and foodie working in Detroit. Gabriel grew up in an Italian-Mexican household and learned the importance of food and community at a young age. Gabriel is bringing his love of people and passion for food and drinks to the popular restaurant in Detroit, The Selden Standard. We spent an afternoon with Gabriel to learn more about his journey within the Food industry. Please see our conversation below.
Food Inspiration Travel: How long have you been in the food industry and how did you get your start?
Gabriel: Through family I have always been involved in the food industry. My family was very involved with our cultural Italian banquet center so I remember starting at 12 years old being in the coat check room. Then I worked my way to the dish tank then into the kitchen and from there busing tables and serving. I was there until 18 years old so I learned a lot.
Food Inspiration Travel: What does food mean to you now compared to you when you were younger?
Gabriel: It’s always been very cultural and very personal to me. I’m half Italian and half Mexican so food has had an important place in my life. My 86 year old grandma always cooked for the family and still cooks for all of us and now my kids too. So when you taste something and it invokes that thought of warmth and family that’s what food means to me. It’s something I try to give guests and convey to people that I am giving them more than just food; I’m trying to give them warmth and that [family] feeling.
Food Inspiration Travel: We definitely felt your warmth and that’s the reason we come back!
Food Inspiration Travel: What has been your biggest challenge within the industry?
Gabriel: Finding the place where you fit. There are a lot of restaurants and bars, but not every place is right for you. It comes down to the people you want to work with. I try to find places with diversity and places where I can continue learning. I also think about places that are understanding. I have 2 small children and a life outside of here. In my current situation, the owners also have children the same age and so we have a tremendous understanding of what it is like outside of the restaurant.
Food Inspiration Travel: What made you come to The Selden Standard?
Gabriel: I made the shift in the last 10 years from managing restaurants and bars to coming back to waiting on tables and being on the floor to broaden my education. Working at the Selden Standard where we are focused on the quality of food as everything is farm-to-table, I am learning a lot. The great thing about working here is that there is a lot of training. You learn something everyday.
I also know a few people here and gained a lot of respect for the Chefs during the interview process. They both wanted to meet me and they really showed that they cared about their people.
Food Inspiration Travel: Why is the Detroit food scene so unique?
Gabriel: It goes hand in hand with the renaissance and the revival that’s happening here, which has sped up within the last couple years. My first experience with coming to Detroit and working here was because I was going to art school. I was very in tune with the art scene, which was in 2004…2005. There was a lot less out here and I felt that the art scene was a big catalyst for everything…including the food scene.The heart beat [ of the food scene] really came from the art society.
Food Inspiration Travel: Who is your biggest inspiration in Detroit right now?
Gabriel: The first person I worked for who was Paul Fradeneck. He is the Cocktail Manager at the Mable Gray now. We worked at Republic together. He gave me the tools I needed to become a cocktail bartender. He made me respect the profession more and helped me to practice technique. I saw right away how customers respected me more since I was a lot more knowledgeable.
Food Inspiration Travel: What is your signature cocktail?
Gabriel: I like to make the Last Word cocktail. It’s a Prohibition-time cocktail from the Detroit Athletic Club. It’s kind of the reason why every bar has green chartreuse in downtown Detroit. It’s comprised of equal parts gin, green chartreuse, maraschino liqueur and lime juice.
Food Inspiration Travel: What’s your advice on immersing yourself in the food scene?
Gabriel: Don’t be afraid! Be open to listening and trying new things. There’s something for everyone and one of the great things to do is going out and searching for it. There are a lot of new restaurants so I like to go to as many places as possible. You’ve got to be open to try everything to fully immerse yourself.
Gabriel’s #FITip: [on quitting your corporate job to get involved in the food industry] I would still tell them not to be afraid to try new things. Also, don’t be afraid to do it yourself. If you see a cocktail being made or a dish in an open kitchen like we have here, talk to that bartender or chef and ask them, ” how do you do that?”
Follow Gabriel on Instagram @gabeedee
Are you exploring your interests within the food industry? Tell us how you are immersing yourself! Leave a comment below!
Travel Wide. Eat Well. Live Your Passion.
Sarah + Monty