Forks up, Phoenix! Chow Bella and Roosevelt Row present the seventh annual Pie Social at 2 p.m. on Saturday, November 19, at the Bioscience High School at 512 East Pierce Street. We've got an all-star lineup of bakers making pies for you to taste, and from now till Pie Social, we'll introduce them to you, one by one.
Today, Chelsea Gabayan of Fabulous Food
Chelsea Gabayan moved to the Valley 11 years ago and has been working in hospitality ever since. Over the years, she's experienced every aspect of the industry: pastry, garde manger, fine dining, resorts, catering — but someday she hopes to study architecture to design ergonomic kitchen workspaces and elegant dining rooms. For now, she loves making pastries (and pie especially) because dessert is always the most memorable dish during a meal.
What is the first dish you remember fixing yourself at home?
The first dish I made often for myself was an omelet or quiche. My favorite flavor was sun-dried tomatoes and spinach with a sprinkle of feta. Years later, when I worked Sunday brunch at a resort, I continued the legacy through making "Bomblettes." On a busy day this would entail cooking five Bomblettes at one time.
What is the one thing you always had in your kitchen growing up?
One thing we always had in the kitchen growing up was banana bread, a recipe passed down from my great-grandmother. One thing we NEVER had in the kitchen was dessert, which is what inspired me to start baking all the time!
What are five essentials in your home kitchen today?
1. Cast-iron pan: I've downsized most of our pots and pans (two chefs at home = tons of kitchen equipment!) and now my cast iron is used for just about everything.
2. Boos butcher block: The first gift I ever received from my then-boyfriend was a huge cutting board. I cherish the very tiny, compact kitchen spaces it has adorned over the years. I look forward to the homes it will embellish as we grow old and fat together as husband and wife.
3. Crockpot/rice cooker: These tools allow me to prepare dinner in the morning before leaving for work. I rarely have the energy to cook for two after a long day of cooking for hundreds of people. Meal planning in advance ensures we eat healthier meals at home with little effort, after a tiring day.
4. My scale. I find it easier to weigh all the ingredients right into the mixing bowl rather than having to wash measuring cups, et cetera. Success in a pastry kitchen is in the accuracy of weighing your ingredients.
5. Infrared thermometer: Too many burns from cooking sugar caused me to invest in a point-and-shoot laser thermometer! I've had it for almost eight years now, and it's great for candy-making, Italian meringue, or even checking to see if the oven is preheated properly.
What is a memorable dish from your childhood and the back story?
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Thanksgiving dishes have always been the most memorable and enjoyable meals for me. Growing up, my dad would cook dinner one day, then we would attend two or more meals over the course of the weekend at the homes of various family members. Once a year is definitely not enough for this joyous meal, so I usually ask my husband to cook Thanksgiving for my birthday in July.
Who inspired you to become a chef and why?
My first inspiration to become a chef started with helping my dad prepare meals for the family growing up. My parents met while working at a restaurant in San Francisco, which is still open to this day. His passion for food has only grown stronger over the years!
The 2016 Pie Social Celebrity Bakers so far: