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Gaby Melian Transcript

 Making Stock and Taking Stock with Gaby Melian

Kerry Diamond: Hey, Bombesquad. Welcome to Radio Cherry Bombe, the podcast that's all about women and food – hopefully two of your favorite subjects. I'm your host, Kerry Diamond, and yes I'm back in Brooklyn. I was down south seeing some family, so I also stopped by some of my favorite southern food spots including Cheryl Day's, Back in the Day Bakery where I had the best slice of Key lime pie I have ever had in my whole life.

I also stopped at Vivian Howard's brand new Handy & Hot in Charleston – I love that name, Handy & Hot – and had pretty much everything. Some of the standouts were her hand pies, unbelievable, so flaky, so good. I had the tomato hand pie and the broccoli and cheddar. And, while I was there, I also picked up some of the frozen treats that they have from our friend Cynthia Wong's Life Raft Treats and had the peach ice cream blondie sandwich, and it just might have changed my life. I would eat one of those every day if I lived in Charleston. Vivian, by the way, has a fun new cookbook coming out soon and she will be on Radio Cherry Bombe to tell us all about it.

Let's talk about today's show. Our guest is Gaby Melian, chef, recipe developer, teacher, and the test kitchen manager at Bon Appétit. Gaby is also a really sweet human, so it was a pleasure to hear her story and learn more about her life and career. Gaby takes us from her upbringing in Buenos Aires to her lucky break with Bon Appétit, to what she's doing today, and I hope you all stay tuned.

A little housekeeping! We're revealing our new cover this week. Finally, right? Official members of The Bombesquad will get to see it first. If you are an official member, check your email right now for details on the October member meetup happening this week. And if you're not an official member, head on over to and click members in the nav bar. I'm super excited about this issue and can't wait for you to see it. Thank you to our pals at Kerrygold for sponsoring today's show. We love Kerrygold butter and cheese. And in fact I'll be right back after this word from Kerrygold.

Kerrygold: Kerrygold is delicious all natural butter and cheese made with milk from Irish grass-fed cows. Our farming families pass their craft and knowledge from generation to generation

Kerrygold Farmer: I'm fifth generation, goes back over 250 years.

Kerrygold: This traditional approach is the reason for the rich taste of Kerrygold. Enjoy delicious new sliced or shredded Kerrygold cheddar cheese available in mild or savory flavors at a retailer near you. Find your nearest store at

Kerry Diamond: Now, here's my chat with Gaby Melian.

Gaby, let's start at the beginning because your childhood really influenced your career. Tell us where you grew up.

Gaby Melian: I was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the city and the capital of the country. So I am a city girl. I always joke that I grew up on the seventh floor of an apartment building. I grew up surrounded by amazing women that cooked a lot. My mom, my grandmothers, my aunts' food was the thing that you talk about it while you were eating. You would be eating lunch, thinking about what you were going to cook on the weekend. And for every occasion, the first thought whenever it was a celebration, or a hard moment, the most important part was, "What are we going to eat?" So, food molded me from a very young age, yes.

Kerry Diamond: Who did the cooking, Gaby, and what did they make?

Gaby Melian: My mom cooked a lot although at some point of my growing up she had, not one, not two, but three jobs. My mom sacrificed a lot for us, my brother and I. My brother is younger, she worked, worked, worked to give us an excellent education. I was very lucky to go from a young age to private school in Argentina that was pretty expensive, and I don't know how she afforded, but she wanted us to have the best education and we went to a bilingual school and that's where I learned my English. I think the most important part for her was to have this excellent education and try to get the best out of it. But she cooked the way I cook now, I guess. She did large batches of things. She cooked a lot on the weekends.

But also the other person that really influenced me and I basically base all my knowledge of cooking on her is my grandmother, my mom's mom. Because we all live in the same neighborhood. So my grandma was in charge of picking up my brother and I and my three cousins from school, we all went to the same school. So afternoons were spent at my grandmother's house, and I was doing homework or watching some cartoons on TV, when she allowed us. She was in and out of her tiny kitchen, and I was always the one following her around. And I think somehow she allowed that. She allowed me to be there and start helping her from a young age. So it was a no-brainer.

Kerry Diamond: What were some things that she made that you loved?

Gaby Melian: Gosh, everything. I don't have a sweet tooth. But my grandma had a special hand for cakes, especially birthday cakes. And for each of us, she had a specific cake for each of our birthdays. So nobody up to this day made a birthday cake for me that compares to the birthday cake my grandmother made. It was basically a strawberry shortcake, but hers was the most incredible pillowy cake. I don't know, I cannot even describe it. It was the best cake ever. It was also my birthday cake. But she made a lot of things from scratch. She would make pasta from scratch once in a blue moon. I remember going to the market with her. I have these vivid memories going to the market with her and standing there and most recipes that she cooked weren't recipes from a book, although she had a book that she follow religiously for some things, but most of her recipes were recipes that she learned probably from her mom, or from her neighbors.

We would go to the market and I remember as a child, you knew that you weren't supposed to talk, you stand there and wait for the grown ups to ask few things, but the conversations would go between the vendors at the market. The meat vendor, she would ask for certain piece of meat and they would say, "No, we don't have it but we have this other one." And the first thing she asked was, "How will I cook it or what do I do with it?" And then somebody would be standing right next to her and would say, "We cook it this way." And her recipes were always like that. She will have things like, "This is the steak from Señora who was the neighbor," and they would have these names. And I think there's so much value in that. How she recreated someone's recipe that she only listened to once. And she made it her own. There's so many recipes, so many recipes. Her pastas were well known. Her cakes, of course up to this day, we always talk about it with my cousins and my brother, everything. She made everything beautiful.

Kerry Diamond: Wow. She sounds amazing, and so does her food. She sounds a little bit like a food detective recreating recipes. And I only bring that up because I read that you wanted to be a detective as a child.

Gaby Melian: Oh, yes. Definitely, yes. When I was 11 or 12 I wanted to be a war reporter. And this is in the '80s, Argentina went into war in 1982 actually, the Faulklands. We call them Islas Malvinas, and I remember I was fascinated by the war reporters. And when I told that to my mom, she looked at me like, "Are you serious right now?" And then I went from I want to be a lawyer. And then it was the detective. Yes, I was fascinated with investigating things and finding out the truth, like collecting some information. Yes, now I'm the detective of food. Yes.

Kerry Diamond: But you'd go on to study journalism. Why did you do that?

Gaby Melian: I knew I had a passion for communications. I knew I had a passion for talking. Can you believe it? And I liked something with people, something like being a reporter from wars and lawyer and defending people and saying the truth. So journalism and communications wasn't that popular in the '90s. There are so many schools now where students have access to radio and television sets and we didn't. I had a typewriter that I have to carry three floors up the stairs to my classroom. We didn't have computers. I think my last year in college, we started having a computer room. But they were nothing like the computers we have today. There was no internet, at least available to us. I thought journalism was something that was going to give me the little bit of all those ideas I had. Like communicating, investigating, telling the truth. And that's exactly why I went for it.

Kerry Diamond: And then, Gaby at one point, you made a very big decision to come to America. Why did you decide to come here?

Gaby Melian: So I have family here, my mom's younger sister had moved to the United States in the '80s, she was lucky enough to participate in a program where she was able to come and study arts for six months. And she decided to stay and now it's like, I don't know, 40 years probably. I always wanted to travel, although in the late '80s, early '90s economically in Argentina, things weren't completely well, so it was hard to travel abroad. But I had the opportunity to come and visit my family here because I didn't have to ... when you travel, you need to take into consideration hotel and food and expenses, but having family, it's always like, you know you have a place to sleep, you have a place to eat. So my mom had visited a couple of times New York with my grandmother because my grandmother came over to see my other cousins that are much younger. I think it was '93, I decided to take a trip with my mom. And we came and we stayed for probably three weeks.

I spent the holiday season here, and I loved it. Not only New York has this ... I always said that New York is like ... there is no middle point. Either you hate it or you love it. And I loved it. I loved everything. I was like, every corner reminded me of a movie, spending the holiday here. The Christmas holidays were amazing. Because it was my first time seeing the snow in December during the holidays and seeing the snow and the trees. Growing up, we had trees but there were fake trees because December in Argentina is summer.

We have these traditions that probably came from Europe, so our food for Christmas is very heavy in calories. But it's like 100 degrees outside and so you don't have snow. I never saw what they call the white Christmas with the snow on the trees and people with scarves drinking hot cocoa. So it was just like the picture perfect. And I don't know, I loved it. I loved the museums, I loved the fact that you walk everywhere in the city in a radius of like, I don't know, 10 miles, and you felt like you were traveling around the world. I fell in love immediately. And I knew I wanted to come back, so I did. When I finished college, I decided that I was going to come back and stay for six months. And now, it's going to be 25 years.

Kerry Diamond: A long six months.

Gaby Melian: A long six months. Yes.

Kerry Diamond: So you came back and you went to Culinary school.

Gaby Melian: It wasn't right away. I came back with my title from journalism school and I was really determined to find a job in a Spanish newspaper or a magazine. I applied to college here, and then I realized how expensive it was. And I was trying to decide if I wanted to do a program and finish studying here, obviously. And I know many people will relate to this. It's very interesting when you study a language and then you go to the place. I studied English since I was probably three, all my life, all the way up to college. And then I remember when I arrived in New York City, I couldn't understand a word. And I was just like, "Why are these people talking like a very different English?" I couldn't understand a word. So it took me a while. You get a little shy and you feel like people don't understand you and you have a strong accent and you say words in a different way and passing that it was hard. So for me to find a job as a journalist in English, it would have been impossible.

So my idea was to write in Spanish. Well, that didn't work out. I started working as a teacher's assistant in a nursery school and as a nanny, and I did that for a few years because I had ... my cousins were very young and in school age. So I have all these friends of my aunt or my uncle that they were in need of a nanny. So that's how I started working with children and teaching. I had a degree in teaching from Argentina, so I loved it. And then I don't know why but I got a job at a restaurant. In between jobs, I got a job in a restaurant in front of a house. And that's when it clicked. It was like, I really love food.

I was cooking all this time, I was always the food center of my friends. They knew that, if I called them it was because I had food. I will spend the little money I made buying really expensive ingredients and making these amazing dinners for my friends. And so somebody came across, I had on ... remember The Village Voice? I know a lot of people don't remember The Village Voice or don't even know what The Village Voice was. It was a free newspaper.

So somebody found an ad on The Village Voice about the Institute of Culinary location and the work study program. And they were like, "Gaby, you're always cooking and you cook amazing, and you love cooking. And you should go study." And I was just like ... it was 1300 hours that you needed to work in the work study program in order to get a free tuition. Unfortunately, they don't have that program anymore. And I was like, "I don't know, should I do it, should I not?" So my friends were like, "Yes, you have to do it." And that's how I ended up going to Culinary school.

My mind exploded when I started Culinary school, working in Culinary school. Because not only I knew exactly where I was going, I discovered that was my true passion. Becoming a chef was my true passion and studying and learning everything possible about food. But just to describe it the first time I worked into what we call the purchasing department, the work study apartment.

This was a room with shelf upon shelf, from the floor to the ceiling filled with spices, rices, chocolates, condiments from every part of the world that I have never in my life seen or tried, and in front of my eyes together, and I had access to all of that, and I was able to touch it and taste it and learn and I was just like, "Whoa, this is what I want to do with the rest of my life."

Kerry Diamond: So Gaby, you said you wanted to be a chef. Were you thinking about food media at all?

Gaby Melian: No, back then. It's very interesting that of course, I was an avid reader of a bunch of food magazines, but it never crossed my mind. I was always very curious about recipes and I had these ... like somebody will give me a recipe or say, "I'm doing this recipe from blah blah blah book." And I will look at it and I will be like this recipe is not going to work. I used to, when I was born, when I was a child, grab my grandma's cookbooks and just read recipes. So never in my mind, and it never crossed my mind, that I could be writing recipes and publishing. I don't know, back then I didn't. Back then I wanted to finish Culinary, have a restaurant and move to Mexico, open an Airbnb in Mexico and feed people.

My main thing was, and it's pretty much up to this day, feeding people. It makes me happy to feed people. I feel like I'm taking care of them. It's like giving them a hug. You're my friend. My friends know that the first thing I ask them whenever they come to my house, whenever I see them, the first word that comes out of my mouth is "Comiste?" It's like, "Did you eat today?" It's just like I feel like I have to feed people. But never crossed my mind and I never imagined that I would end up working in a magazine.

Kerry Diamond: I love that you called yourself the food center for your friends.

Gaby Melian: Yes. I still pretty much am.

Kerry Diamond: I want to go back to this restaurant attached to the Airbnb because I bet there are a lot of people listening to this who are like, "I would love nothing more than the Gaby restaurant attached to the Gaby Airbnb." Give us a vision for what your restaurant would be.

Gaby Melian: It's pretty interesting how that restaurant changed a bunch of times. I wanted to have a very small place where I don't actually have a menu. And I know this came a few years ago, it was very fashionable and people still do it. Just have two or three dishes a day. Feed people super local, super fresh, whatever I found in the market. Basically, like what a restaurant was. Like the story of a restaurant, the first restaurant was like, it's to restore your hunger and your soul when you were busy working, and then you will go to these places and they will have a soup and a dish and everybody ate the same. So that was my idea. Not a fancy thing, but super local, super fresh. Maintaining my traditions, but of course, was going to be in Mexico. And so it was going to have a little bit of Mexican twist. I don't like to say fusion.

Kerry Diamond: A lot of people don't like that word.

Gaby Melian: It was good on the '90s. Not anymore.

Kerry Diamond: Is having a restaurant still on your wish list?

Gaby Melian: I have this question asked very often, and I say no. Not in a million years. I know what it is to have a restaurant. The only way that we have a restaurant today will be if I am retire young and I have a system in place where I can enjoy working in a restaurant. And I know a lot of people that worked in restaurants. And I'm sure you heard this before. A restaurant can burn you so much. And it's a very rewarding thing. But it can also ... physically, you have no life. And now in the COVID era, this whole thing has changed. But I think that little bit, the passion I had for having that restaurant, It's gone or hidden somewhere in me. It's not here or very present anymore. No.

Kerry Diamond: No, I hear you. I used to own some restaurants. And when you said a restaurant can burn you that is for sure. It's a tough business and everybody who's still making it work during COVID times, my heart goes out to everybody who's in the restaurant business right now.

Gaby Melian: Yeah, I know. Who knows? Maybe one day. A little shack on the beach and I sell empanadas.

Kerry Diamond: So Gaby, tell us, how did you wind up at Bon Appétit?

Gaby Melian: I was looking for a job. This was right after my mom passed. My mom died in January of 2016. A few years prior to my mom getting sick, I was teaching culinary in different schools. And I created Gaby's Kitchen. Gaby's Kitchen was created because I wanted to create a mobile school that was going to go around the city to different schools and teach children how to cook. And I was very involved in food education and the Food Revolution with Jamie Oliver. And teaching, teaching, teaching.

And the moment I discovered that teaching cooking was my true passion, I went all for it. So I had this company, I was doing well. But I needed to make more money. That's how I started making empanadas. I got a food vendor's license, and I started selling empanadas. So, everything was going pretty well. I had a website, I was writing, I was just starting to move into the social media world slowly but surely and making my dream basically. Everything was going great according to my plan.

And then my mom was diagnosed with cancer, and it was pretty fast. She died a year later. But throughout that year, I put my Gaby's Kitchen and my business on the back burner. And the last few months before she passed, I stopped working completely. So I survived with my savings and whatnot. So my mom passed, and obviously, I was very much in debt, very much sad, trying to put my life, the pieces back together, renting her home. It was rough. I don't want to make everybody sad, but it was rough. So at one point, I was just like, well, I need to find a job because trying to revamp a business when you are ... I always like to call it the one woman show. It was hard. So ICE Culinary has this amazing program and group of people that they constantly sending you emails with job opportunities. Up to this day, like 17 years later, I get those emails. I think is weekly or biweekly.

So after asking here and there and trying to figure out how or what I was looking for to work, reading the ICE Culinary job listing, I saw the ad for Bon Appétit, that and it actually had Brad Leone's email. And it was a job as a test kitchen assistant. It was part time. And it was just to help clean the dishes, running some errands and helping overall in the kitchen. And I sent him an email right away. And I said, "I can put my gloves on to do your dishes." And then he emailed me back. And I think the next day I had an interview with him, it was more like a meet and greet and I went to the test kitchen. And this is way back before the videos and everything else.

Then a few days later, Carla Lalli Music called me or emailed me and said, "I would like to have an interview with you." And I went back to the kitchen and we talked. And she looked at my resume and she was like, "You're really overqualified for this job." And I said, "Yeah, but my mom just died and I need a job, and I have a degree in journalism and I am a chef and I'm trying to put the two and two together, magazine and food. Why not?" The very next day she called me and she said, she offered me a full time job. And I say, yes. And that's how I started.

Kerry Diamond: Gosh, I'm so sorry about your mom. So you had gone back to Buenos Aires?

Gaby Melian: No, no, my mom was here. Yeah, my mom lived here and we were very close, we were a team. My mom was my sidekick, my sous-chef, my everything. My best friend. I know it's weird to hear a 51 year old say like, my mom was my best friend. But my mom was my best friend. We had an amazing relationship. Yeah, my mom had come to the states a few months before I moved for personal reasons. And she also had to stay. So yeah, she made a life here. And we both lived in Jersey City and it's a place that I love. Everybody knew her.

She had a nickname and everything, but she was a nanny. Everybody knew her as Nana because one of the kids that she babysat years and years and years ago couldn't say her name. Her name was Adriana. So they nicknamed her Nana. So all these children that my mom watched that are now 17 and 19, they still talk about Nana. So yeah, we lived here in Jersey City for so many years. We had a really nice community and we were always together. And yeah, it was devastating. It was hard. And it was so quick. It was just like one year that your life goes upside down.

Kerry Diamond: Well, Gaby, thank you for telling us about her. She sounds amazing, and I'm sorry we didn't get to know her. And I'm also sorry, she didn't get to see what a remarkable career you've had.

Gaby Melian: Yeah, I think about that often and thank you. Yeah, she was an incredible person. And yeah, well, she's probably watching from somewhere.

Kerry Diamond: No doubt, but her spirit clearly lives on in you.

Gaby Melian: Thank you. Yes.

Kerry Diamond: So you wind up at Bon Appétit, Carla Lalli Music hires you, I didn't know that. I know everybody wants to hear the Bon Appétit gossip, which we're not going to give them but let's just say a new chapter is underway for the media company. You've got a new editor and chief Dawn Davis who's starting in a few weeks but you are still working there, correct?

Gaby Melian: Yes, the quarantine didn't stop us. We're still working, pretty much everybody from home. I am still the test kitchen manager and recently somebody asked me about how do you do it? You are not in the test kitchen, so trust me the first month I was like, we're never going to be able to do this. Because the first month was really tough for everyone. What my job entails this kitchen is managing the daily routine, in and out deliveries, purchasing, the whole cleaning schedule, who is working in which station, at what time, for how long doing what. So all those ingredients, all that behind the scenes, that was what I did in there.

So doing it from home, from my computer, calling vendors, trying to find out who was delivering, who wasn't. It's just like playing tag. Remember that game? It's super interesting. I love it. I love doing it. I love my job. People know I always hashtag, #ILoveMyJob. Because for me, it's like, whenever it's like, "Can you get me a turkey in California in the middle of July?" And I was like, "Geez, let's see." So, here I go into action. It's like playing a game, where I'm going to find a turkey and fly it California. And I did, yay!

Kerry Diamond: It goes back to you wanting to be a detective as a kid.

Gaby Melian: Exactly! Yes! So it's super interesting. I went back into the building twice, because we've had a little bit of a fruit fly issue. We're lucky enough that the last two days we were able to give away things, so nothing was rotting in the refrigerator, that was my biggest nightmare.

Kerry Diamond: Fruit flies are the bane of every restaurant and bar. I hate fruit flies.

Gaby Melian: Indeed, yes. Yeah, me too. I'd rather see a regular fly than a fruit fly. I don't know why.

Kerry Diamond: No, you're right. Because if there's a fruit fly, that means there's another fruit fly. And probably ...

Gaby Melian: Hundreds. Yes.

Kerry Diamond: All right, let's talk about happier things. I want to talk about your kitchen. You said you are born organizer. I, Gaby, I'm a born dis-organizer. So tell us how your kitchen is organized?

Gaby Melian: My kitchen is organized daily. I'm actually working on it. Born organized, yes, from a young age. Many times we moved and like I said, my mother was such a hard worker and probably didn't have an amazing marriage. And there were many times where there were like boiling things and things weren't completely settled. So for me, a way of finding peace was like, I will get her clothes in her closet and get them out and fold them all neatly. And even while I played I used to play teacher a lot and sit my brother and my yellow bear and my doll and make little books for them. And I was always teaching my brother and the doll and the bear, but everything had a place to go. For few years, I shared a room with my brother. And you would totally see which side of the room was my brother's and what side of the room was mine. Because mine was all meticulously organized. And the dolls were in one place or another and his side was like a pile of Legos or something on the floor that you had to be careful not to step on.

So, all I had growing up moved along with me throughout the years. I am the kind of person that if you leave me alone in your room or in your kitchen for a few minutes and you tell me you can't cook, I will probably go in and remove everything from your counter in 10 minutes and people will be like, "Wait, what did she just do?" So for a while when I have Gaby's Kitchen, one of the things that I did to make some money was organize people homes and kitchens. And I developed my own system, like removing everything and then putting everything in a box and just grabbing what you were going to use that day and then keeping close to you the things that you use daily and then putting away the things that you don't use that often. I put it in the top shelf of the pantry. The humongous appliances that you never use or you use once a year, instead of having them on the counter because the biggest excuse I always hear from people is like, "I can't cook, I don't have room, I don't have any space." And I just take a look at it and I'm like, "Okay, boom, boom, boom." And then like, I don't know I literally was born like this. Nobody taught me, it just comes naturally on me.

Kerry Diamond: This needs to be a TV show because I know a lot of people who need that service starting with me, I will volunteer to be the first person.

Gaby Melian: Yay.

Kerry Diamond: You did Radio Cereza Bomba the other week and I got to see your kitchen. And I was like, "Oh my god, it's so organized." You had all you knives, on one of those magnetic strips. Your spices were perfectly ... I think they were spices, were perfectly organized.

Gaby Melian: I think you got to see a bunch of things in the back. Yeah, maybe spices ... so this kitchen what I am right now, was not a kitchen for a long time, it was a studio for an artist. So when I moved in, I barely had, I only had a big sink, I had no stove. So it took a few months to finally build the kitchen in it. And up to this day, I keep telling people that my kitchen is huge because it is a really big space. But it doesn't have a lot of counter space or a galley, people like to work, you turn around and you have things on both sides. So I had to make it function for me, I'm short. And so I have to have everything handy. So basically what you see is what I use in a daily basics.

I know somebody made a comment and say, how do you keep it so clean? I will have everything dusty. And that was a great comment because yes, you will keep it all dusty if there are things that you don't use daily, but if I have a wall with the spoons, chances are and when I use every single one of those spoons in a week. So they have no chance to get dusty. The stuff that can possibly get dusty, it will be put away in a drawer or in a box or in a shelf, covered up somewhere else. But yeah, I'm very visual, so I like to see where things are. And I also known for rearranging often until I find the perfect balance. So yeah, I was born this way.

Kerry Diamond: Do you mark everything in your fridge? With the tape and the date and of all that?

Gaby Melian: Yes, we used to say, once in work study always in work study. Yeah, I'm big in FIFO. If you're not from a restaurant, FIFO means first in first out. I am very big ... funny enough, when Carla Lalli Music interview me, she gave me a working tour of the walk-in and it was messy. And I remember the first thing I said I was just like, "I will clean and organize this in two days." And she's like, "We love you already." And that's what I did. In my kitchen, in my fridge, I'm constantly taking everything out and marrying things ... that's a term from the restaurants. Like putting things together, making them smaller, making them into a smaller container. So you have better room. Always label, always dates. Yeah, I cannot not do it, and it's like I have to.

Kerry Diamond: Let's talk about some things you make in that very organized kitchen of yours, Gaby. Tell us what's a specialty of yours.

Gaby Melian: I do love to cook in batches. During quarantine, I discovered that I have this way of ... I live by myself and then during quarantine it didn't see people for a long long time but I have one person or two coming once in a blue moon. So basically when you live by yourself that was one of the hardest things for me to learn, was to scale down my cooking, because I always cooked for 20 people growing up and then when I have friends that live closer. So what I have learned now is I still can cook not for 20 but maybe four or five, make a big batch, save it and then use it for leftovers. I love to cook ... get my hands on good fish and get three, four pieces of fish and make them in three different ways and then save them. I like to freeze things, I like to for real once a week I buy a whole chicken. I get this order from the farmers and I get a whole chicken and I really enjoy roasting that chicken very slow.

So skin gets so sticky. And then I usually go for 350, 375 degrees and I leave it there for like an hour and change. I started putting the slice of bread under and I like to put whatever vegetable is going bad. I make a little mattress under the chicken and on top it goes as simple as salt, pepper, and olive oil, sometimes butter, and then whatever I have in the fridge. Half a lemon, a piece of onion that I opened and I never use. I put it in there, skin and everything. Apples, I don't know, celery, you name it. The day I cook the chicken is big time cleaning the fridge, throwing everything together, putting it in the oven. Forget about it. I love using the oven, and I know people think I'm crazy. But I love using the oven, especially even in the summer. I'm lucky enough to have a countertop oven that it doesn't get hot outside.

So I much rather put something in the oven, put a timer and forget about it than standing in front of a stove, stirring something and sweating with the steam. I don't know, is that crazy?

Kerry Diamond: I'm the same as you. I'm less of a recipe person than a devoted shopper of the farmers market. And then I come back and just eat things raw or roast them in big batches like you. I just really love making the most of seasonal produce. But wait, do you have a Breville stove top?

Gaby Melian: I did have a Breville and then we donated it to a school and now I have a Wolf, a Wolf Gourmet. I love it. Yeah, a big shout out, they're my friends and I love it. It's amazing. Literally, you put a whole chicken in there, you forget about it. I use the oven a lot. I cook a lot of things in the oven. I roasted red cabbage yesterday in the oven, and instead of sauteeing it in a pan. Like yesterday basically, I took the day off from work. I needed a break and I cleaned up my fridge. I emptied it. And I found a piece of fennel I forgot I had and there we go. So, I love vegetables. I love fish, chicken. I rather cook like that. I do pick a recipe once in a blue moon and go through it and cook it from A to Z, but I love to cook with what I have. Especially now, I think it became really important now, the seven months that not always you can get that ingredient that you think is indispensable, and you can serve, you can switch and get creative.

Kerry Diamond: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Absolutely. You mentioned putting apples in with your roast chicken. I haven't done that. But that's a great idea because I probably over buy my apples at the farmers market. I do always throw in ... I cut up some lemons and throw them in because I love the flavor that they add. And I just roasted plums the other day and put them in my yogurt and that was a game-changer.

Gaby Melian: Yeah, love it. I love roasting fruit. I love roasting plums. Well, I bake the peaches. Once I was doing a live with Ellen from Hedley & Bennett and people loved it. I have so many peaches, and I decided to put them in the oven and put salt on them and paprika and they came up so good. Anything can go in the oven. Everything can go in the oven.

Kerry Diamond: Salt and paprika. I never would have thought of paprika.

Gaby Melian: Yeah, I did pears the other day in the oven. I have pomegranates on the other day I was just ... I did a little story of how to open a pomegranate because I know people usually whack them and you destroy the seeds inside. So I find out that there are ways and so I did read story on pomegranates. And then I was just asking people on Instagram, what do you think I should do with it? And somebody sent me a message and said, "You put some salt and paprika or olive oil and put it in the oven."

Kerry Diamond: Really?

Gaby Melian: No, he was just joking.

Kerry Diamond: So wait, I'm one of those pomegranate whackers. So what am I doing wrong?

Gaby Melian: I feel like when you whack them, you destroy the seeds and the flesh around the seeds. So, basically I grabbed the pomegranate, I make a flat side in the bottom and then I cut the top, I compost ... I'm a big compost person. And then instead of going crazy whacking on how I'm going to get all the seeds out. When you look at it from the top, you got to let mother nature guide you. And you can see that they're like the white lines, that the membrane that separates each part of the pomegranate. So basically you make a cut, like you were cutting a wedge out of it. And then after you wedge that out, you can remove the wedge with your fingers and just easily pop the seeds out and it's a lot easier. You end up with a lot less of the white membrane. And then I just rinse them in a colander. I take the extra white membrane and that's it. Half the time I'm eating them, but I'm doing that so by the time I end up I have half a cup and what I'm going to do with that?

Kerry Diamond: Gaby, one more food question and then we might do a little speed round, because we haven't done a speed round in forever. But I'm guessing because you're Gaby and because you roast a chicken you also make chicken stock every week with the bones.

Gaby Melian: I do buy broth from my farmer friends. I have this amazing company that delivers. I get everything from the farmers but I do get some broth from them. But definitely when I end up with a chicken after I pick through and I get everything, the good stuff and I share with the dog, not the bones. I usually throw it in a pot or the Instant Pot, the bones and ... I go very simple. I go the way my mom used to make chicken broth or chicken soup. I add onions with the skin-on, garlic, definitely, I know that's not everybody puts garlic but I love garlic. I put garlic in everything.

Kerry Diamond: Throw the clove right in, skin-on?

Gaby Melian: Clove right in skin-on, celery, if I have, carrots. Definitely I always have carrots is Pucho's favorite treat, which is my dog. He loves carrots. I always have carrots and I have occasionally put green onions in, if I have scallions, piece of ginger if there is a piece of ginger lying around, and then water and let it do its magic. Boil, boil boil, boil, and I drink that. And usually I rescue some more meat that was stuck in the bones, and it ends up in the dog's plate. I cook for my dog. A lot of people know that.

Kerry Diamond: You do? I didn't know that.

Gaby Melian: Yeah.

Kerry Diamond: How long do you cook the stock?

Gaby Melian: Hours. Sometimes I turn it off, let it cool and put in a fridge and cook it again the next day. If it's in the Instant Pot, I think it has a 35 minute thing. And then I let it run for a little longer. But yeah, a long, long, long time. I let it reduce a lot. It gets really thick and yummy.

Kerry Diamond: Sounds so good. All right, Gaby. Let's do a quick speed round.

Gaby Melian: Okay.

Kerry Diamond: I haven't done the speed round, I think, since before quarantine. You know what it was? We would always ask that question, "What food celebrity Would you like to be stuck on a desert island with?" And then lots of us were stuck at home. Okay, Gaby. Coffee or tea?

Gaby Melian: Tea. I'm a mate drinker. I quit coffee. It was making me very jittery.

Kerry Diamond: What is the oldest thing in your fridge?

Gaby Melian: Bacon fat. I found it yesterday. It's there for like ... I don't know, seven months. I forgot I had it.

Kerry Diamond: It's probably still good. Most treasured cookbook?

Gaby Melian: My grandma's copy of El Libro de Doña Petrona, it's from Argentina. Doña Petrona was our Julia Child. And then one book that I really treasure because it was my first cookbook here, and the one that guided me through for years, Joy of Cooking. It was my bible for so many years.

Kerry Diamond: Most used kitchen implement?

Gaby Melian: Spoon and the oven. Give me a spoon and an oven. That's it.

Kerry Diamond: All right, and then let's see. How about a food you would never eat?

Gaby Melian: I don't know. I don't like tofu. And people know these. I know. I don't. I don't eat it. I don't buy it. If I have to I have to, but no.

Kerry Diamond: That's funny. Okay, and since we can't do that much travel right now, dream travel destination, where would you like to go when God willing all of this is over?

Gaby Melian: I have the same ... and I don't know why I never did it, but since I was eight, I want to go to Greece. It's like I dream of it. I feel like I was there in another life. I don't know.

Kerry Diamond: That's so interesting. Okay, I've never been to Greece, either. Maybe we can go together, Gaby.

Gaby Melian:  Yes!

Kerry Diamond: All right. Well, Gaby, thank you so much. You're such a bright spot, just through so many things. You've just been so positive and optimistic and you were so sweet to do radio series The Bombe, the other week. And then I saw that you worked with the students at Food and Finance and the Food Education Fund and Pass The Spatula. So thank you for giving your time to that as well.

Gaby Melian:  Thank you for having me. And it was a pleasure. I'm super excited to be here chatting with you. And thank you for your kind words. And yes, I've had so much fun with, Pass The Spatula. It was a super interesting conversation. And I love working with children and helping the students and I think we have to. It's our duty to help them and guide them. So I really enjoyed it.

Kerry Diamond: Absolutely. Well, Gaby, you're totally The Bombe. So thank you.

Gaby Melian: Thank you so much.

Kerry Diamond: That's it for today's show. Thank you so much to Gaby Melian, for joining us and sharing her story. If you want more from Gaby, and I hope you do, be sure to follow her on Instagram @gabyskitchen. And check out her website of the same name for videos and recipes like her ham, cheese and onion empanadas, which I would really like right now. I'm kind of hungry. Speaking of cheese, thank you to Kerrygold for supporting today's show and making the butter and cheese we all love so much. Radio Cherry Bombe is edited by Kat Garelli. Our theme song is all fired up by the band Tra-La-La. Radio Cherry Bombe is produced by Cherry Bombe Media. Hang in there everybody, and thank you for listening. You're the Bombe.

When Harry Met Sally Clip: I'll have what she's having.

Cara Chigazola Tobin: Hi, my name is Cara Chigazola Tobin. I'm the chef and co-owner of Honey Road Restaurant in Burlington, Vermont. Do you want to know who I think is the Bombe? Chloe Genovart of SoLo Farm & Table in South Londonderry, Vermont. To me, Chloe is the epitome of hospitality. She's kind and generous and has created one of the most inviting dining rooms I've probably ever been in. She's also a mom of two and an inspiration for work life balance and making it all seem possible. She's an amazing mom, an amazing woman and an amazing inspiration to women in our industry.