Gaby Maalouf Puts Down Roots at Gaby’s Mediterranean on Venice [Video]
- 4 Min Read
At ezCater, we’re inspired by chefs and restaurant operators who take their passion for food and catering and turn it into a career. As a partner who helps them build their catering business, we’re proud to share their stories with you. This is Gaby Maalouf’s Restaurant Roots.
For years, Gaby Maalouf strived to create a restaurant where he could put down his roots and build a life, one Lebanese dish at a time. When he took over a restaurant in 2000 and renamed it Gaby’s Mediterranean, his friends thought his endeavor would be “the kiss of death.” He told them he had nothing to lose. He worked 18-hour days, barely stopping long enough to catch his breath. His menu, drawing from his Lebanese ancestry, specializes in delicious Lebanese staples like smoky baba ghanoush and spit-roasted meats. He now has four Gaby’s Mediterranean locations, including the original on Los Angeles’s Venice Boulevard. Whether customers dine in at his restaurant or order catering, Gaby Maalouf receives them with a smile. This is the story behind Gaby Maalouf’s Gaby’s Mediterranean on Venice.
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Gaby Maalouf: I went to college to be a filmmaker. I worked on a lot of movies. What I learned in film school is entertainment, is making sure that people are enjoying the experience. When I provide food I want to make sure that I add a smile on people’s faces.
I was raised in Lebanon. Since I was 14 years old I’ve worked in the restaurant business. I took charge of this place in August of 2000. Everybody told me, “Gaby, this is the kiss of death.” I said I have nothing to lose.
I was working at least 18 hours a day. My mom, God bless her soul, she was helping me with some Lebanese dishes. This is the food that I grew up on. They have the hummus, baba ghanoush, kababs, the chicken. Americans like meat, they love vegetables, and they like it mostly grilled. And this is what kabab is. You have to have a very good kind of meat. We use tenderloin.
I enjoy working. This is what makes me stay in this business for many years now. I feel like this is my home. I want to welcome people. I want to say, “Ahlan wa sahlan,” which is “welcome” in Arabic. They’re trusting me with their health, with their food, with their lunch. I want to provide them with the best I can.
I appreciate this country very much. I know how difficult it is but you can always succeed. There’s no reason for you to give up.
Restaurant Roots. Inspiring stories celebrating chefs, restaurant operators, and catering.
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