These days Adrian Gabriel Fabella, Executive Chef, and his team of chefs cook for the Dotcom family, for guests and for the lavish functions held at the mansion. His wide experience in preparing Western, Asian and Filipino food has helped.
AUCKLAND – When growing up in a family where males outnumber women there is a tendency for the men to step up to the plate and learn how to cook. In Adrian Gabriel Fabella’s case it was no different. “In our family all the guys are good cooks and we happily prepare all the meals – from breakfast to dinner. My Dad is a great cook and he inspired me to take up cooking.”
Adrian fell in love with the idea of becoming a chef when he turned 18 and found a job as a waiter. “After serving food to the guests I always went to the kitchen to observe the cooks at work. The chef noticed this and said: “Adrian, you are always inside the kitchen; it looks like you are interested in cooking.” “Yes chef,” I responded. Then he gave me some good advice. He suggested that when I look for my next job: “try to get a job in the kitchen and once there, learn as much as you can about all aspects of restaurant cooking. Then stick to this career path. You will eventually realise your dream and become a top chef.”
To fulfill that dream, at age 22 he was fortunate enough to find a job overseas as chief cook on board the MV Gondwana (Nabeel Ship Management Ltd), a tug boat, anchor handling and salvaging boat that services world wide and UAE destinations with their home port in Dubai.
After a 16-month stint he returned to the Philippines and worked for Tamayo’s Catering. This company is a leading caterer in Manila, providing Filipino and international cuisine for all occasions. “Its clients include resorts and power plants,” says Adrian. “I learnt a lot there and within 2 years I got a promotion from cook helper to line cook. The next step up was to become an assistant butcher and within a year to become chief butcher. I then became head chef of some of our branches for the remaining year I was with the company.”
Another step up the ladder came when he got a 9 month contract on board the Princess Cruise Line, which plies between European destinations. Here he picked up skills in preparing sophisticated Western cuisine for the fine dining restaurants on the luxury cruise liner. “Our executive chef was a 5 star Michelin chef and I worked with many highly experienced Italian and European senior chefs.”
Another change of course happened when when his Dad passed away. He returned to the Philippines to stay with his mum in his home province – Roxas Oriental Mindoro, Southern Luzon, for five years. He set up small restaurants there and launched a catering business as well. His secondary occupation was teaching proper food handling, catering and banquet operation, baking, bar tending and menu planning subjects to freshman and junior students or HRM courses for RIST (Roxas Institute of Science and Technology) and ICST (Innovative College of Science and Technology).
Then … a mega break in October 2012 brought him to our shores. His sister, who was working for internet tycoon Kim Dotcom in Auckland, told him about an Executive Chef vacancy at the Dotcom mansion. “I sent my CV to Mona Dotcom and after two days I was hired, even though I have no qualifications from culinary schools, just a wealth of international experience.”
These days the 34-year-old Executive Chef and his team of chefs cook for the Dotcom family, for guests and for the lavish functions held at the mansion. His wide experience in preparing Western, Asian and Filipino food has helped. He cooks Filipino food for Mona Dotcom and the six Filipino staff, Western cuisine for his boss Kim Dotcom and the kids and sophisticated spreads for VIP guests and the huge functions at the mansion.
What lies ahead for this multi-talented international chef that New Zealand has been fortunate to adopt? Adrian loves New Zealand and his challenging job at the mansion. He plans to get married soon to a pretty Davaoeña from Digos Davao Del Sur and settle in New Zealand permanently. So gaining residency is a priority for him at the moment.
By Mel Fernandez