The Blather: Chef Gabe Aubertine

Last weekend, I had a brain storm, and in just a week’s time, I’ve brought it to fruition and onto your screen. Kinda proud of myself. I’ve been thinking for awhile about a way to tell you about cool chefs or food people, in our state or in a wider arena, because while our culture is currently obsessed with celeb chefs, we seldom hear about some of the small-scale rock stars of the culinary world. Then, I thought of the term “The Blather,” and thought that would be a cool title for profiles of bodacious, bad-ass chefs. Right after that, I had a dentist appointment at which the topic of conversation between me, my dentist and my awesome hygienist Aimee was Simply Red Bistro maven Samantha Buyskes, who recently closed the Simply Red Bistro at the Sheldrake Winery, and how sad that made us. That conversation prompted me to email Chef Samantha, plus a couple other chefs I know, and here we are, with my first edition. I give you…

The Blather

Our first chef on The Blather is Gabe Aubertine, the scamp I met through my little sister and her boyfriend, who took over for Shawn Vendetti at Fireside in Black River a couple years ago, then headed up the inventive dinner service at Bella’s in Clayton last summer. Gabe and I have become foodie friends since I started the blog, so much so that when I had dinner with my sister and her boyfriend Josh a couple weeks ago, and stipulated that I’m not doing carbs at dinner right now, Gabe and Josh had a whole conversation about my dietary restrictions unbeknownst to me. We’ve also bonded over our love of pork and Chicago chef Grant Achatz. Maybe you’ll bond with him, too. I asked him to answer five basic chef questions so you could get to know him better, and for him to share a recipe with us.
Chef Gabe cheffing it up on the line

BHS: How did you decide to pursue a career in food?

GA: Since I was 13, I've been working in professional kitchens. I started as dishwasher and food prep and worked my way up the ladder. I more or less just kept working in kitchens because I could eat for free and still collect a decent paycheck while I finished high school. After high school, I realized that I was pretty good at coming up with different dishes and I noticed how well I fit in with the usually pretty motley crew that you find in most kitchens. That's when I decided I'd stick with it and see where my path would take me.

BHS: What is your favorite ingredient?

GA: My absolute favorite thing to add to basically any food is my fresh herb trio. A nice mix of finely chopped rosemary, sage and thyme.

BHS: Do you have a foundational food memory from childhood?

GA: I'm not sure if I have any good memories about food from when I was a child. I do remember though, watching Emeril Lagasse for the first time in 6th grade. His charisma and boldness on camera and his ability to make a crowd applaud just by saying, “BAM,” was what I remember most. The food was fresh and always looked delicious. I truly believe that he may have influenced me the most in the culinary world.

BHS: What is your favorite restaurant?

GA: I don't know if it's an acceptable answer, but The French Laundry in Yountville, California. Unfortunately, I have never had the true pleasure of dining there, but just what Chef Thomas Keller stands for (sustainability, attention to detail, respect for the food) is something that I long to achieve in the culinary world. The French Laundry is known as one of the world's finest dining venues and it is a lifetime goal to be able to enjoy anything Chef TK creates.

BHS: What would be your last meal on Death Row?

GA: A nice, bloody steak with garlic mashed potatoes and haricot verts. I'm a meat and potatoes kind of guy no matter what is on my menu.

Cucumber spaghetti. How very French Laundry of him. As for me, I want to lick this plate.

Fresh Watermelon Salad with Cucumber "Spaghetti" and Tzatziki


• 1 ripe seedless watermelon

• 2 large cucumber

• Small handful of fresh mint

• 2 ripe limes

Cut watermelon down into slabs about 3"x 3" and an 1" thick.

Cut cucumber in half length wise and scoop out seeds with spoon. Using mandolin or really sharp knife, cut slices lengthwise about 1/8". Then lay them flat and cut julienned strips about 1/8" thick that should resemble long strands of spaghetti. The strands should be thin enough to have the consistency of cooked pasta.

Assemble watermelon on bottom and a small wad of your "spaghetti" onto that. Squeeze fresh lime juice over it and put dollops of tzatziki in corners of plate for dipping. Garnish with a mint sprig


• 1 C Sour cream

• 1/4-1/2 C grated cucumber(use a box grater)

• Juice from1 fresh lime

• Small bit of fresh mint finely chopped.

• Salt and pepper to taste

Just whip them together and adjust season to taste.

I had to go ahead and attempt this dish, because it lined right up with my current diet, although I admit, I messed with Gabe's perfection, using a mix of low fat sour cream and nonfat Greek yogurt; plus, I had to sub in dill for mint, as Wegmans didn't have any small portions of mint this week. My results were still absofabudelicious, which is a word I just made up:

A lot less elegant, though

And that’s it from me this week, kids. I hope you’ll give Gabe’s inventive dish a try, and visit him wherever he lands to cook this summer. I hope it’s somewhere waterfront. Meanwhile, I have a couple fun reviews already in the hopper for you: Bandwagon Brew Pub in Ithaca and Nhuy in Vestal. Plus, Mother’s Day brunch at Mirbeau Inn and Spa in Skaneateles this Sunday, and a trip out to Alex and Ika in Cooperstown in June. With that, I endeavor to the treadmill…My hunger is big, my personality is bigger!

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