Welcome to The Doers, a Clever-ish Magazine interview series. The Doers are those who have taken the brave step to ‘DO’, to step out of their comfort zone, pursue their goals, and bring their dreams to life.
Gabriel Lewis rose to fame after appearing on season eight of Gordon Ramsay’s Masterchef. Throughout the series, he made a name for himself with his authenticity, innovation, and charisma. Though he was sent home early and came seventh place, he made a big impression upon Ramsay himself, who offered to pay his way through culinary school. As for many of us, COVID-19 disrupted Lewis’ plan to work for Chef Sanchez, and instead, he had to get creative and figure out how to succeed in what was considered the new normal. Lewis spoke to Clever-ish about the food industry, his creative influences, and writing poetry to practice self-care.
Tell me a little about yourself and your brand/company. What do you do and how did you come to do it?
My name is Gabriel Lewis, I am a private chef/content creator from Oklahoma City. I’m best known for my time on season 8 of the Gordon Ramsay hit MasterChef. I started cooking at around 11 years old. My mother Lisa, Aunt Gertrude, and Grandma Valerie instilled a love of cooking that has continued to thrive and blossom since then!
How did the COVID-19 Pandemic and subsequent lockdown affect your business, and most importantly your creativity?
Covid definitely knocked me down. I lost all of my clients for over a year. I had to reach them via meal delivery and pivot heavily from what I knew yet it sparked some incredible inspiration in the kitchen on the delivery side and social media. It led to me creating content and opening up the food world even more. It was a blessing in disguise in some ways. Allowing me to connect with people in a way I wouldn’t have before.
At some point all of us have faced failures in some way. How do you handle these setbacks?
I met a chef named Gil on my recent trip to Yakima, Washington for the Bite Club Competition I took part in. We connected on how we both deal with failure. He stated it best as “I look at failure as a learning opportunity. I ask what am I learning here, what is this teaching me, and then I smile”.
Do you have any routines or crucial items that keep you going throughout the day?
I had a moment last year that made me really focus on my mental and physical health. I focused on my workout routine and meal prep and that has been a constant and crucial part of my life the past month or so. Taking my mental and physical health seriously has become a crucial part of my ability to get things done and really push myself to be the best I can be.
“Covid definitely knocked me down. I lost all of my clients for over a year”
What do you love the most about your industry and what is one thing you would like to change?
I love the creativity, the endless bounty of knowledge and technique, the blank canvas that I can paint as I please with each plate. There’s not much I don’t love about my industry. If I had to say anything I would change, it would have to be the ego. I have crossed paths with chefs that have such an ego it prevents them from growing in their passions and love. It stops them from recognizing great food, great people and new techniques from chefs young and old. Ego doesn’t belong in food, it’s a place we can all connect and tell our story.
“I have crossed paths with chefs that have such an ego it prevents them from growing in their passions and love”
Who has been a big influence for you, creatively?
I love this question! I have four big influences, chefs Gordon Ramsay, Cat Cora, and Aaron Sanchez then of course my mother. Chef Ramsay, Cora, and Sanchez have each played a pivotal role in my culinary career. Each one of them has inspired me to push myself and the boundaries of my food to new heights. My mother was my main inspiration, she gave me this gift and nurtured it for as long as she could before she passed, she was my everything.
If you were to follow an alternative path, such as a different career or move into another industry, what would it be?
Honestly, I would have to say I would probably pursue a career in psychology. I’m fascinated by the way the human brain works and would love to consume as much information as I could to help people learn about themselves.
Tell me about how you unwind. Do you practice self-care?
I’ve been falling back into my poetry writing. I use poetry as a way to express whatever emotion I can’t convey through food. I also love listening to music and laying around with my pup!
And finally, what have you been enjoying lately? Is there something you have been watching/reading/listening to recently that you would recommend?
I just finished Will Smith’s autobiography “Will”. I definitely recommend reading or listening to the audiobook. He gives incredible insight into his rise to fame, dealing with loss and self, finding opportunity where you’ve been told there’s none, and finding a way to believe in yourself.