Gaby was born and raised in Venezuela, a country where food was multicultural thanks to the influence of Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese immigrants in the early and mid-1900s. Lebanese, Asian (Chinese and later Japanese), and Peruvian influences were also present. She’s been in the kitchen, since she can remember, with her Italian grandfather and then with her mom and family, learning to make traditional Italian and Venezuelan food. That’s where she started to develop an interest, curiosity, and then a passion, not only for traditional recipes but also for exploring new flavor combinations.
She was inspired by the multicultural environment that surrounded her, and by her travels to Europe since the age of 12. She’s self-taught for most of her culinary knowledge, with some focused training and seminars by renowned chefs like Sumito Estevez, Julie Frans, etc. In 2007 she moved to Miami, a gastronomical melting pot, and more diverse cuisines and flavors inspired her and pushed her to learn more and create more. She started to cook for friends and family, providing catering services. Eleven years later, she moved to Sioux Falls, and thanks to the Plums Cooking Company, she’s been able to share her love for food, flavors, and spices with multiple classes a month for the last few years. She loves to be able to connect with people, and that has allowed her to evolve into a private chef for dinners and small events.
When she tries to define her favorite things to make, she immediately thinks of her Italian, Venezuelan, and Latin American roots along with Spanish and Mediterranean cuisines, as well as Middle Eastern. She cooks from the heart, driven by her passion to showcase exquisite dishes, with flavorful combinations, and vivid colors.
Sean Hofer grew up in the kitchen with his grandmother. As he got older, kitchen gadgets started to become an interest of his and eventually turned into one of his passions. He was fortunate to work at William and Sinoma and his natural progression with utensils grew. Sean was introduced to Plum’s Cooking Company and enjoys helping Gaby in the kitchen.
As stated above, Sean learned a lot from his grandmother but he also was influenced by watching Alton Brown on television. Sean related to how Alton Brown made his cooking repeatable. The feedback he would get after making one of his recipes made him confident. Repeatability is important to Sean – as long as he can read a recipe he is able to change ingredients and make it his own. The foundation of cooking is the recipe.
His philosophy for cooking is to know, like, and trust. Know what you are doing, like what you are doing, and trust what you are doing. Alongside working at William and Sinoma, he demonstrated recipes with the Vitamix for 2 years. He enjoyed teaching and being in front of people. He says it is very similar to what they do at the Plum’s Classes.
Q. What dish inspires you most?
Sean: A Spanish dish that has many different components. This dish is a comfort meal that I used to eat as a kid in South Dakota.
Gaby: Probably Lasagna, since it is a family meal with several components even though they appear to be simple, when they’re executed with love, the result is memorable.
Q. What are your favorite tools in the kitchen?
Sean: Knifes, the Vitamix, and specialty pans.
Gaby: A cast iron skillet is so versatile and definitely a must-have in any kitchen.
Q. Where us your favorite restaurant? (it doesn’t have to be local, it can be international)
Sean: Tropical Chinese in Miami Florida.
Gaby: There are a couple of restaurants that have that special place in my list: Taberna Alipio Ramos in Madrid, a simple environment where excellent food is combined with impeccable customer service makes the whole experience memorable. The other one is La Mar by Gaston Acurio in the Mandarin Oriental in Miami, outstanding Peruvian food with a modern twist is a luxury experience.
Q. How do you express your culinary skills?
Sean: I enjoy expressing my skills here at the classes and at home in my kitchen.
Gaby: Cooking with my heart for the people I love.