Free Association is the tool used in psychoanalysis when you’re given a word or an image, and another word spontaneously comes to mind to show what you most strongly associate with the first word. Let’s try it – I’ll go first.
- Light? Dark.
- Star? Moon.
- Peanut butter? Banana (hello, everyone knows PBB‘s beat PBJ’s.)
Gaby Dalkin? Absolute sunshine.
I’ve known Gaby for several years through our blogger / Instagram / mutual friend connections, and even though we only get to see each other once in a blue moon since she’s based in LA, her headshot is permanently in mind with the biggest smile. It’s fitting, since Gaby is the poster girl for happy California living, and the food media empire she’s built over the last decade has given her audience the tools and recipes they need to live that sunny life too, whether they’re wearing swimsuits in Cali or snow boots in Chicago.
I love the way that Gaby keeps evolving as the industry grows and she reaches new seasons in her own life, whether that’s publishing a brand new cookbook or launching a line of seasonings with Williams-Sonoma. One of the biggest changes of the past year has been having her husband, Thomas, join the company as her business partner and collaborator on all things What’s Gaby Cooking, so I was excited to spend a sunny morning at home with the two of them as they took a break from blog life and headed into the kitchen to cook up a simple yet flavor-packed lunch to share. And since Thomas is so frequently manning the iPhone (especially on Gaby’s beloved live cooking sessions) we switched things up and got him in front of the camera, too.
Scroll on for Gaby and Thomas at home, the insanely delicious salad recipe they cooked up, and their answers to all my questions about life, love, travels around the globe, and how Gaby manages to make everything taste so damn delicious.
Okay G and T: What do you love about working with your partner?
Flexibility! Since we’re running our company together, we have the ability to do that from anywhere in the world so long as we have wifi. Also the fact that we both have the same common goal for the company makes making decisions easier.
Are there any challenges to working together?
Making sure we have our own personal time and space. It’s very easy to get lost in whatever we’re doing, but it’s important for both of us to have things going on outside of each other on a daily basis. And sometimes we are intentional about drawing boundaries – other times not really. It’s hard when you’re running a business such as What’s Gaby Cooking that’s so centered around our lives. But we do try and step away from work and just live when we need it!
Gaby, what is the quality you love most about Thomas?
Hard to pick just one, but I’d say that Thomas is the perfect counter balance to me. He’s level headed when I’m not, his skill set is different than mine, so we compliment each other perfectly.
Thomas, what quality do you love most about Gaby?
She’s not afraid to ask for what she wants… she’s fearless.
Ideal date night:
G: Don Antonio’s for burritos and margaritas!
T: Casual night with Bay Cities sandwiches and a beach hang.
Any tips for at-home cooks when it comes to making their food taste and look more chef-level?
Never underestimate the power of fresh herbs. They can really level up any dish and they just make everything look prettier!
Top tip for keeping it simple when hosting a party:
Don’t overthink it. Over the last 10-ish years I found that most people are just so pumped to be invited over for a meal and not have to cook themselves, that it doesn’t take much to blow everyones socks off. Pick one show-stopper and go for it. The rest of the menu can be the supporting cast so you don’t have to be a nut prepping for the day.
5 essential items for hosting:
- Great wine
- One of Thomas’ playlists
- Really simple flowers
- Plenty of sparkling water!
What would your last meal be?
Don Angie’s rolled lasagne. OMG.
5 things we’d always find in your fridge or pantry:
Lemons, Topo Chico, homemade hummus, a bottle of champagne and salsa!
(fun fact: Gaby’s mother is the ceramicist behind those beautiful serving and salad bowls pictured above.)
Tell us about one of the best meals of your life that you’ll never forget.
It was at Londolozi [a game reserve in South Africa.] We had dinner in the bush under the stars, right outside of the safari lodge we were staying at. It was spectacular – you could hear the elephants nearby and the stars were out of this world.
Who are your dream dinner party guests?
I know most people would name celebrities, and – don’t get me wrong, that would be so fun. I’d LOVE to cook for Obama one day! But my dream dinner party guests are my friends. I get so much joy cooking for them that I love having people over all the time so we can relax and eat and drink fun cocktails or wine and just have a fun night.
Get the recipe for Gaby’s Southwestern Roasted Vegetable Salad with Crispy Quinoa right here!
What’s the secret to a great party?
A laid-back hostess, great playlist and plenty of food.
The Camille Styles tagline is, “Live Life Like You Mean It.” How do you live life like YOU mean it every day?
I’m very intentional on how I spend by day. I’ve edited out a lot of the nonsense and things / people that don’t fill me up. THAT is how I live life like I mean it!
5 favorite spots in LA:
- Don Antonio’s – best big plate Mexican.
- Rise Movement – favorite workout.
- Santa Monica Farmers Market on Wednesdays! It’s my version of church!
- Milo and Olive – Thomas and I go all the time for a quick date night when we want pizza and wine
- Gjusta – our go to weekend breakfast spot
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