“Jezabel Careaga is a self-made chef, business owner and creative thinker inspired by all forms of arts.”

About

I grew up in the small town of Palpalá, located in the Argentinian province of Jujuy. Surrounded by family and very close to my relatives, I always associated cooking with love and togetherness, and one recollection in particular stands out in my mind. Baking and preparing food with my grandma Julia is one of my most treasured childhood memories.

I vividly recall grocery shopping every morning with her. We would start at the bakery to choose a good French bread (“Pan Frances”), move on to the grocery store, and end our journey at the butcher’s. All the while, grandma Julia held my hand tightly. She was an excellent baker, and playing with dough was my favorite pastime! In fact, Grandma Julia proved to have the greatest influence on my practice as a chef and baker.

After I started school, I remember baking with my mother, Aurelia, as we made maicenitas and Pastafrola for birthday parties. As a teenager, I eagerly anticipated the television cooking show “El Panadero y El Pastelero”  (“The Baker and the Pastry Maker”), which featured all things related to bread and patisserie. While watching this show, I acquainted myself with the precise yet inventive use of ingredients, techniques, and general practice.

In 2001, I entered college to study Tourism & Hotel Management in Cordoba. My experience of working in various hotels and managing a hotel reservation office gave me the chance to interact with customers on a daily basis, which I loved.

To further my knowledge of business and follow my passion, I pursued an MBA at Universidad Siglo XXI, but never forgot that my ultimate dream was to live abroad. With this in mind, I wasted no time in developing a business plan for a tea house and catering business, never knowing that just such an opportunity would cross my path in the not too distant future.

By 2007, I had moved to Miami to work at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel. I will always keep Loews in a special corner of my heart: working with the exemplary staff and obtaining valuable life experience there was the best I could hope for. It taught me so much.

The tangible inspiration for Gavin’s Café arrived in 2009. I relocated to Philadelphia the same year that renovations began at the corner of 26th and Pine Streets. In June 2010, we opened our doors to the beautiful Fitler Square neighborhood.

Since then, it’s been a great ride. I gladly returned to my roots in the kitchen to discover that I love it more than ever. I constantly experiment with ingredients and integrate my knowledge into my culinary endeavors every day. When I call my mom Aurelia to ask for recipes, most of the time she doesn’t remember them exactly; however, after getting the general idea, I can combine them with my memories and recreate the flavors of my childhood; I’m always amazed at how personally meaningful this process is to me.

Today, my style of cuisine is principally Northwest Argentinian with definite European influences. I use only the freshest ingredients as I incorporate exotic flavors from many cultures. I’m always looking for different spices and starting my dishes with a good sofrito. When every bite is composed of layers of flavor and texture, I feel I have accomplished what I set out to do all those years ago with Grandma Julia. There is no better feeling than to make people happy through good food!

I hope you enjoy exploring the website. If you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line!

Cheers, Jezabel.