2016 Chefs to Watch - Chef Gabriel Balderas, El Cabo Verde

Chef Gabriel Balderas, El Cabo Verde

CHEF GABRIEL BALDERAS

“Food is a different way of life in Mexico. Everything’s done the old-fashioned way,” says Gabriel Balderas, chef and owner of El Cabo Verde in Shreveport.

Gabriel, who was born in Mexico and moved to the United States when he was a teenager, employs many of the cooking traditions he saw growing up in Mexico. Whether it’s grinding corn for handmade tortillas or cooking beef in a pit to make barbacoa, Gabriel takes no shortcuts, creating maximum flavor and freshness.

As a child, Gabriel spent time with his mother and grandmother in the kitchen, so when he started working in restaurants, cooking came naturally to him. The self-taught chef’s culinary experience is diverse, having worked in cities across the United States, including Birmingham, Chicago, New York, and Washington, D.C.

With El Cabo Verde, Gabriel is getting back to his roots with authentic Mexican street food. “We like to incorporate a Mexican touch to Louisiana ingredients. To me, they’re so similar,” he says. The menu includes items like posole with collard greens, and ceviche with Louisiana shrimp. This recipe, a riff on the popular street corn esquites, features locally grown corn and Louisiana shrimp.

Additionally, Gabriel uses his holistic nutritional certification to create organic, locally sourced cuisine made with wholesome ingredients.

“Just because it’s street food, that doesn’t mean that the ingredients have to be cheaply made or poorly sourced,” Gabriel says. “We want to make people aware that you can have a delicious meal, but also feel good about what you’re eating.”

El Cabo Verde began as a pop-up restaurant, but Gabriel will open a brick-and-mortar location in fall 2016. He hopes to replicate his concept throughout Louisiana, incorporating as many local ingredients as he can.

Recipe

2016 Chefs to Watch - Chef Gabriel Balderas, Chile Marinated Shrimp with Corn Esquites

Chile Marinated Shrimp with Corn Esquites

Meet the 2016 Chefs to Watch. 

2016 Chefs to Watch - Chef Gabriel Balderas, El Cabo Verde

Chef Gabriel Balderas, El Cabo Verde

2016 Chefs to Watch - Chef Phillip Mariano, New Orleans

Chef Phillip Mariano, New Orleans

2016 Chefs to Watch - Chef Ruby Bloch, Meauxbar and Cavan

Chef Ruby Bloch, Meauxbar, Cavan, and Sylvain

2016 Chefs to Watch - Chef Nathan Richard, Kingfish

Chef Nathan Richard, Kingfish

2016 Chefs to Watch - Chef Lyle Broussard, L'auberge Lake Charles

Chef Lyle Broussard, L’Auberge Lake Charles

2016 Chefs to Watch - Chef Ashley Roussel, Saint Street Inn

Chef Ashley Roussel, Simone’s Market

Pick up a copy of the Louisiana Cookin’ September/October issue for our 2016 Chefs to Watch coverage.