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.