Professional SpotlightSpotlight

Gabriel Cabrera is a food and prop stylist who runs a gorgeous food, art, design, and culture blog called Artful Desperado, and we were hooked after seeing just one blog post. The photos will make you want to take photography (and perhaps even food styling!) more seriously, and Gabriel’s writing is fun, catchy, and engaging – you won’t be able to visit his blog just once.

After having studied Tourism Management at Universidad Anahuac, Gabriel received his Culinary Arts degree from Vancouver Community College. The skills he learned from culinary school comes into play every single day, whether he’s dreaming up a new recipe for Artful Desperado or for his Stylist job at Luvo Inc.

We are excited to share this exclusive interview with Gabriel, where he shares his top three photography tips, his favorite dessert he’s ever made, and an inside look on what his blog and stylist duties entail. Read on for more culinary inspiration!

Name: ​Gabriel Cabrera
Education: ​Tourism Management from Universidad Anahuac; Culinary Arts from Vancouver Community College
Follow: ​TheArtfulDesperado.com / Instagram@ArtfulDesperado
Location: Vancouver, Canada

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define “Seizing Your Youth?”

GAB: ​I think the process of seizing your youth never truly ends. To me it’s a constant state of mind where you must take every opportunity you can to shape your future. Seizing your youth is a life­-long learning experience through trial and error. This means you cannot give up and you cannot shy away from creative/life challenges, otherwise you will be giving up on some very valuable life lessons (which by the way, are tuition free!). Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but you always end up with a new skill that will help you get closer to success.

CJ: You majored in Tourism Management at Universidad Anahuac. How did you determine what to study?

GAB: ​I chose Tourism Management based on my personal interests, which are travel and food. It was a tricky choice! You know, turning something you love into your full-time job may not be what you would expect. When I chose Tourism Management I thought “I’m going to travel everywhere for a living!” I was wrong; I was stuck in an office making sure everyone was enjoying their vacations, and that killed me. Some people thrive in the service industry, but not this cat.

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CJ: You then went on to receive a Professional Certificate in Culinary Arts from Vancouver Community College. What sparked your passion for food and cooking, and what was your culinary school experience like?

GAB: ​I’ve always loved cooking. I was born in Mexico, so food is a HUGE part of our culture, pretty much every social interaction revolves around food (fine by me!). I wanted to do something with this foodie passion of mine, so I decided to take it to the next level in cooking school. I knew it was going to be hard work (despite what everyone thinks, a kitchen is more like the military than what you see on the Food Network). I had some really stressful moments where I thought to myself “why am I doing this!?!” but deep inside I knew I had to keep going. I did, and I don’t regret it one bit. I think that’s key – you’ve got to listen to your inner voice. Your gut is right 99.9% of the time and if something feels like it fits ­despite the stress and sleepless nights ­then it will turn out for the better. Trust me, your sweat and tears pay off!

CJ: You run the stunning blog, Artful Desperado. What inspired you to start your blog, and what do your blogger duties look like?

GAB: ​The blog started as a creative exercise to train myself to be more aware of what was happening in the art, design, and food world. From then on it took off and it changed a bit to be more focused on food and styling which is what I do.

My blogger duties are basically wearing many hats! Copy-writing, photographing, styling, editing, business skills (to create partnerships with sponsors or brands) and even a bit of HTML coding (for any bugs that may happen). A “day in the life of” looks like this: gather inspiration for a new post, test the recipe, gather props and ingredients, cook, style and shoot, edit, write the blog post, and promote to social channels. Mind you, due to my work schedule I currently don’t blog daily, I only update once a week­-ish.

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CJ: What is the best piece of advice you would give a baking/cooking enthusiast?

GAB​: Travel! Seriously, get out there. Cookbooks are awesome, and so are ideas from Pinterest, but traveling is just the real deal. You don’t have to go somewhere extremely expensive or exotic (though, if you can, then yes! by all means go), you can do trips in your state or province and try different things you’d never try before. Architecture, culture, nature; all of them will have a major impact on the way you see/create food.

CJ: You take gorgeous photos on Artful Desperado and your Instagram. What are your top three photography tips?

GAB: ​Top three would be: 1 -­ Great lighting. Lighting is key to achieving a great photograph, learn the basics and practice as much as you can and soon enough you’ll start seeing it everything in a different light (pun intended). 2 – If it doesn’t look good, then don’t share it­. The Internet is full of images, no need to add something that’s not appealing (there’s plenty of that already). Just Google “Martha Stewart food photos” and you’ll see what I mean. 3 ­- Experiment. Try different set ups and styles until you find the one that fits you, this also helps you learn lots about styling/photographing in different situations so you’ll become a pro.

CJ: You are also a photographer and stylist at Luvo Inc, a company that provides healthy and convenient pre­made meals that are good for you. What does your role as photographer and stylist entail?

GAB: ​My job is making sure we visually showcase our food and team recipes in the best way possible, according to brand standards and also depending on what our customers love. I also coordinate our photo shoots making sure we have everything we need: food, props, equipment, etc. On a typical week I’d be brainstorming for a shoot, hunting new props, working with our team to design a set for our “scenes,” cooking, and testing recipes, etc. It’s busy!

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CJ: What is your favorite meal or dessert you’ve ever made?

GAB: That would be a very simple and easy Mexican flan ­- honestly, whenever I make it it’s a couple hours before I eat it all. I love it because it brings back so many childhood memories and tastes like heaven.

CJ: What advice would you give to a young person hoping to set themselves up for success in the culinary world?

GAB: ​Have stamina! The kitchen is tough place. Also try to gain as much experience outside of regular work; go intern at a top restaurant or practice at home with friends and document it (these are the baby steps of starting to build your own recipes). Surround yourself with activities that will enrich your culinary style: go see some art shows, watch food documentaries and movies, check out classic cookbooks from the library. The more you know your craft, the more you’ll get noticed in the industry. Basically you’ve got to build respect from day one. Street cred, ya know!?

CJ:  How do you stay organized and manage your time?

GAB: ​I’m old-school and I use a monthly planner (an actual notebook) and a sketchbook. In my planner I put every single deadline I have and the name of the project. Any additional notes such as number of assets I need to create (e.g. number of photos or looks), shopping lists, mood boards, fabric samples, etc. they all go in my sketchbook in the appropriate project. Needless to say my sketchbook gets HUGE! But it’s nice to see all the things you done and keep all that important creative information for future projects.

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CJ: Is there a cause or issue that you care about? If so, why?

GAB: ​I’m not sure if it’s a cause but it’s something I really care about: I am pro­-food­-happiness and anti­-internet-­stupidity. The first means to be happy with your diet: don’t be vegan just because, don’t eat a bunch of meat just because ­ do it because you actually enjoy it. If you’re a concerned about the environmental impact, then make better choices such as eating cruelty free products. If you’re a vegetarian and you want to eat a spicy chorizo sandwich then do it! Whatever you choose, do it because it makes you happy.

The second is so important and I feel the new generation of youngsters need to learn more about it: everything you post online will stay in there forever and ever, so be careful and internet-­etiquette savvy.

CJ: What is an area, either personal or professional, that you are working to improve in and how?

GAB: ​That would have to be negative feedback. As a creative I really take it to heart when someone doesn’t like my work. I’ve learned that is not the end of the world -­ different strokes for different folks, right? Instead of shutting down, I’m working on taking the bits that will help improve my work and move on.

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CJ: What is your favorite book?

GAB: Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine by René Redzepi.

CJ: Having a loaded schedule can sometimes be overwhelming. What do you do when you’re having a bad day and need to unwind or reset?

GAB: ​I bake and/or go to take photos outside my home. Baking for me is like meditation as you’ve got to visualize your recipe, measure ingredients, etc., and the rewards are always oh­-so­-sweet (another pun!). Taking photos just for myself and not for work is also the best, a lot of times I go out and take a ton of photos and then delete them all. It’s kind of therapeutic.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20­-year-­old self?

GAB: ​Quality not quantity! Back then I felt I needed to have a lot of everything: friends, contacts, clothes. Really tightening your social life, contacts, and finances helps you stay focused on the things that matter.

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Images by Gabriel Cabrera; profile photo by Tomasz Wagner; graphic by Carpe Juvenis

Culture

Innovation today has become an ever-expanding idea and concept that continues to garner and create new and interesting ways of contributing to our evolving societies.

The fact of the matter is, if you are not innovating in whichever field or arena you find yourself dealing with, chances are the spectrum of your work will simply get left behind.

The millennial generation continues to move to places that inspire cultivation; as they remain a leading force of change with more forward-thinking means of living. They are hungry for new, cutting edge technology, infrastructure, design, and overall quality of life.

As they evolve and find the world adapting to the changes of the future, a select group of world cities have emerged to foster the next generation of young leadership. Consistently millennials are on a mission to seek out spaces that they can call our own, which allow for individuality and ability to have dynamic social lives with good work and life balance.

In no particular order, these 14 cities are among the best for innovation for the millennial generation.

Johannesburg, South Africa  

The only African city on the list, Joburg is seen as one of Africa’s most vibrant cities of the future. Bustling with creativity, energy and reinvention, many view the success of this city as the benchmark for the rest of the continent. Home to one of Africa’s largest stock exchanges, the city has a young, dynamic population that adds to its developing attraction for bars, restaurants, and nightlife.

Singapore, Singapore

Having one of Asia’s most innovative economies and diverse multinational populations, this Southeast Asian city often tops many lists globally for livability and innovative practices. The small city-state continues to set the benchmark for innovation and forward thinking in sectors of technology, investment, infrastructure and livability standards.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Known as one of the most progressive cities in the world for ages, Amsterdam is seen as a highly efficient, cutting edge city for its go-green efforts, livability, social policies, and cultural attractions. Amsterdam has a bustling social scene and nightlife, and is also known as the most bike-friendly city on the planet.

Bangalore, India

Though not as widely known as Mumbai, the nation’s cosmopolitan and business capital, Bangalore has emerged as South Asia’s IT hub. Thousands of new startups spring up around the city each year, with clean and modern infrastructure positioning the city to experience rapid foreign direct investment. Today, the city is now known by the west as the Silicon Valley of India, attracting top talent from around the world.

London, United Kingdom

With more foreign tourists visiting London than any city in the world, as well as being named the best city in the world for economic opportunity, it has now unofficially become the economic and cultural capital of Europe. Boosting an array of opportunities in various sectors, as well as a high number of expats from overseas, the city attracts top young talent from around the world. There is a growing and emerging array of global entrepreneurs choosing to make the city their ground to launch new ventures.

Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Known as an Asian mega-city for several decades, Hong Kong’s vertical ascent into the future began far before several of its emerging Asian counterparts. It has been a massively important port for domestic and international trade, serving as a meeting point for top multinational dialogue. The city continues to reinvent itself with its distinctly Asian heritage and passion for cutting edge design and space-saving efforts. A large group of expats comprises the city’s young professional scene with vibrant social opportunities for all.

Vienna, Austria

Austria’s capital, Vienna, is seen as a massively clean and controlled city. Home to culturally important museums, governmental agencies and boasting amazing public transportation, the city fares well with both locals, expats, and tourists as a popular destination to live and work.

San Francisco, USA

This American coastal city on the Pacific Ocean serves as one of the nation’s most desirable places to live and work. The energy, social scene, diversity, and environment of the bay area make the city a desirable destination for young professionals. In addition, its access to Silicon Valley and vast tech and entrepreneurial startups makes the city flourish as a hot destination for innovation.

São Paulo, Brazil

Considered one of South America’s largest megacities, São Paulo is leading this region of the world, acting as Brazil’s knowledge, innovation and finance market capital. Roughly 20 million people make up the landscape of the city, which has the most innovative universities and industries in Latin America. A growing number of multinational firms and businesses are choosing to make the city their base for further integration into the region. São Paulo also has excellent social and living conditions for young professionals.

Vancouver, Canada

This Canadian city has embarked on a mission to become the greenest city on the planet by the year 2020. It is currently working towards this goal by a water consumption decrease of 20 percent. With access to green spaces and public transportation, the city is also home to a vibrant young professional scene.

Santiago, Chile

Retaining one of South America’s lowest corruption rates, Santiago’s economic capital has launched itself as one the region’s most innovative places for starting new ventures and business opportunity. The city boasts a healthy and stable economy with a strong, expanding network of infrastructure projects.

Boston, USA

Seen as one of America’s most historic and oldest cities, Boston is also known as the nation’s education capital, boosting an array of world-class universities and institutions which are hubs for innovation in themselves. The city is young, dynamic and creative, and it fosters a unique blend of culture, charm, and history.

Dubai, UAE

Now seen as the hub of the Middle East, this oil-rich kingdom has launched its success from natural resources into a tax-free safe haven for expats and multinational investment. Close to 80% of the city is now comprised of overseas expats coming to live, work, and experience the city’s growing clout internationally. It is also home to many Guinness World Record titles, with the 160-story Burj Khalifa, its most iconic structure, as the world’s tallest building.

Stockholm, Sweden

While Sweden’s three largest cities all top international lists as truly innovate destinations of the future, its economic capital of Stockholm has been a groundbreaking destination for innovation and development. A strong culture of innovation has propelled this Nordic nation to the forefront of ambitious research, cutting edge infrastructure and passion for efficiency. Swedes are often described as being the world’s fastest population at adapting to new trends and ideas, and are not only economically and socially liberal, but also among the Europe’s most educated. With a strong reputation for being a high economic performer within Europe, the circuit of young and innovative companies, design, social venues, and people make Stockholm a highly efficient hub for growth for the future.

Image: Pasu Au Yeung