Faces of the Sligo Food Trail - Marc

The Sligo Champion - - NEWS -

FACES of the Sligo Food Trail Marc Gab­bidon, The Em­bassy Steak­house

Marc Gab­bidon’s ac­cent is truly a won­drous thing. It’s a melodic com­bi­na­tion of an East Coast Amer­i­can twang and a Caribbean lilt, lib­er­ally scat­tered with pitch per­fect Ir­ish slang. It’s a com­pos­ite of this chef ’s glo­be­trot­ting life from its Ja­maican roots to ru­ral Sligo.

Back in 1980s Kingston, Ja­maica, Marc’s par­ents sought a bet­ter life­style for their young fam­ily. As was the pat­tern of the day, his mother ob­tained spon­sor­ship from a New Jersey GP and made the move first, paving the way for her hus­band, chil­dren and her mother.

Marc’s grand­mother was a sem­i­nal in­flu­ence on him, in­tro­duc­ing the young boy to the kitchen. From an early age he loved to cook, learn­ing tra­di­tional Ja­maican dishes first and paving the way for a ca­reer in food.

As a part time dish­washer in a busy can­teen/ café, Marc got a lucky break one day when the kitchen was un­der­staffed. Pro­moted to help­ing on the line, the chef quickly spot­ted his tal­ent and moved him to the more creative side of the kitchen.

There he stayed, working his way up and even­tu­ally tak­ing over as chef. Af­ter a cou­ple of years he moved to a ma­jor restau­rant chain, but gain­ing ex­pe­ri­ence with them meant mov­ing be­tween out­lets which was dis­rup­tive, par­tic­u­larly as he had a young daugh­ter.

Nat­u­rally gre­gar­i­ous, he stayed friendly with head chefs he had worked with and this led him to Con­nolly’s Ir­ish Pub in New York City where he met his now wife, Karen.

He stayed in the Ir­ish circle when part­ner­ing with a friend to set up a café in Wood­lawn, an Ir­ish neigh­bour­hood in The Bronx.

Iron­i­cally the boom in Ire­land had a neg­a­tive ef­fect on it, as the di­rec­tion of the em­i­grant tide turned and the café was sold. Once again he was head­hunted and spent his last four years in the US working in yet an­other Ir­ish pub, The Play­wright Tav­ern.

Af­ter 14 years in Amer­ica, Karen felt the pull of home and per­suaded Marc to try a rather dif­fer­ent life­style in ru­ral Sligo near Castle­bald­win. Eight years ago they moved over, lock, stock and bar­rel, and haven’t looked back since.

Af­ter a cou­ple of short stints in other es­tab­lish­ments, Marc joined The Em­bassy Steak­house, tak­ing over as head chef af­ter two years. Al­ways keen to keep busy, he also spends two days a week in col­lege, adding solid qual­i­fi­ca­tions to the vast prac­ti­cal ex­pe­ri­ence he has amassed.

Marc, Karen and their chil­dren Dy­lan (14), Jade (11), Kyle (10) and Ai­dan (8) are now to­tally set­tled in Sligo and love the life­style they have es­tab­lished. Marc’s older daugh­ter, Miquel (23) works with Time Warner Magazine in New York. The fam­ily adore spend­ing time in the US and had a won­der­ful full sum­mer there last year, though Marc was only able to take a few weeks off.

Time out for Marc has al­ways in­volved cycling ‘ to clear the head’.

It’s a fair bet that a full time job, study­ing and an ac­tive fam­ily don’t leave too much time for that just now. www.sligo­food­trail.ie #sligo­food­trail

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