Ask Gaby

Welcome to Ask Gaby! Basically it’s a place that gets updated once-a-month where you can ask anything/everything! Full transparency. No holding back on my end. So without further ado…

Here’s the deal – I get a TON of questions on various platforms and there is a lot of overlap. Whether its on snapchat, Facebook, instagram, twitter etc… there are some fun and interesting questions out there and I think we should answer them all in one place so it’s easily accessible for everyone! Every few weeks I’ll be adding to this post so if you think of something you want to ask me, shout it out in the comments below! (and FYI it goes in chronological order – so if you’ve been here a time or two, scroll down for the latest additions!!)

How did all this start??
Oh man… ok here we go. I was the pickiest eater growing up. No joke. I ate pretty much only pasta and grilled cheese until I got to high school. In high school I started watching a bunch of cooking shows and was obsessed with making chicken parmesan. Literally, thats the only thing I made for the first few years and trust me when I tell you that I make the BEST chicken parm ever. When I got to college, I got chubby REAL fast. Freshman 15? I wish. It was more like the Freshman 25 and I was playing tennis every day too. I had 4 square meals a day (in college we’d go eat a second dinner at 9pm – super healthy… NOT!) and eventually took matters into my own hands and started cooking. After college, I moved down to Los Angeles and got a regular office job. HATED IT, and the company eventually folded. I was only there for about 9 months and rather than go get another job right away, I decided I would go to culinary school and put off the real world for just a bit longer. After culinary school I went to pastry school and meanwhile did the blog as a hobby. I started working as a private chef and the rest is history (aka I’ll fill you in on the next few questions)

Where did I go to culinary school / would you recommend going to culinary school?
I did 2 different culinary/pastry programs. The culinary program was at Westlake Culinary Institute, it was a condensed 6 month culinary program and we learned pretty much everything you’d learn at a big fancy culinary school but for a fraction of the price. After culinary school, I immediately enrolled in pastry school (Academy of Culinary Education) because I LOVED it. Plus, who wouldn’t want to make cookies all day. Turns out pastry school isn’t all about cookies and brownies. There are a lot of fancy pastry techniques that weren’t really my jam. I learned how to make puff pastry and all that jazz, ate a ton of sugar, got my first cavity and then peaced out about 3/4th of the way through and said bye!!! Would I recommend going to culinary school? Depends on what you’re interests are post school? I don’t think its MANDATORY but it absolutely helped me in my career. More on that coming shortly…

How did you become a private chef?
While I was in culinary school, I was interviewing to be a nanny for this incredible family in Malibu. I told them I was going to culinary school at the same time and I ended up being their chef and cooking for them for a handful of years. It was incredible, their kitchen is the kitchen of my dreams and I just love them!!! I had a handful of clients while I was working as a private chef and was incredibly fortunate to love all of them (I lucked out – it’s not always so fun or carefree)

Do you think you need to go to culinary school to be a private chef?
I do. I think it really helps and gives you some major credibility. At least here in LA where every other family has a private chef and they come from incredible restaurants and fly around the world to cook for their clients. That said, I don’t think you have to go to a super fancy culinary school!! And a HUGE part of being a private chef is your personality and disposition. You’re spending your days in your clients kitchen and you’re responsible for feeding their entire family. I think it’s one of the most intimate jobs as you’re in the heart of the home. So having a positive and professional demeanor is equally as important as your culinary school cred. And while this isn’t exactly the same question – I certainly think it’s helped me learn how to write recipes and learn ratios. I can look at a recipe and tell you off the bat if it’s going to work and/or taste good. So that’s a major bonus.

What keeps you inspired?
omg so many things. Living in California I have access to some incredible year round farmers markets which I visit on a weekly basis so seeing whatever is in season or new and exciting is a constant source of inspiration. I’m also pretty lucky to have such incredible friends and family who LOVE food. We’re always talking about food, throwing dinner parties, hosting brunches, and cooking together etc… and just being a part of that is a great way to constantly be coming up with new ideas to share with YOU guys!

How do you not get burnt out?

I’ll be honest – it doesn’t happen a lot because I really do love my job, but when I feel it coming on it’s a sign that I need to get out of the normal routine and switch things up. Whether that is packing up an going on an adventure, booking a weekend getaway, or just do something that is new and stimulating and inspiring. That can be as simple as going out to lunch at a new fun restaurant with food outside my repertoire, or as extravagant and packing my bags and heading off on safari for 2 weeks. For me, it’s important to travel. It makes me tick. Keeps me inspired. I love meeting new people and experiencing new cultures – so as long as I make an effort to do that, I’m usually good to go 🙂

I’ve also been known to try and put my phone down for a weekend and not obsessively participate in social media. It’s never lasted for more than 24 hours, but I’ve made a few solid attempts. Once I went for a walk and left my phone at home. It was a major milestone in my life 🙂

How did you meet Thomas?

Oh this is my favorite story to tell besides the story about watching Game of Thrones in the Miami airport a few years ago. But we’ll save that for another time.

I’ve never actually taken the time to write down our story, I always tell it in person so let’s see if I can make this work. Let’s rewind to the high school days and I’ll preface this by saying Thomas is a year older than me. I grew up in Arizona and when it came time to apply to colleges I sent applications to dozens of schools. After I finally narrowed it down (St. Mary’s College of CA up in the Bay Area) and was accepted to be on the women’s tennis team, one of my best friends, Emily, suggested I look at all the athletes on their website and see which teams had the hottest guys. (Totally normal for any 17 year old girl right?) She’s also a year older than me and is equal parts best friend, older sister and life council so she knows whats up 🙂

Emily came over, we scoured the SMC website, basketball, rugby, baseball, soccer, tennis, lacrosse, etc. HUNDREDS of profiles later we narrowed it down to Thomas. He was on the mens tennis team and he was 100% my type. (bleached hair and all – hahaha) A few months later I packed my bags, moved up to college, cried when I said goodbye to my parents and met Thomas on my first day of school at tennis practice. He waltzed down to practice too cool for school and I quickly learned that he had a girlfriend. RUDE.

I moved on to various other guys but Thomas and I always got paired up to play mixed doubles together and to cross train together when tennis got rained out.  I’ve never been a good poker player, so I think it was pretty obvious to him that I was interested. One thing led to another, he eventually broke up with his girlfriend and FINALLY asked me out. I wasn’t having any of it. In case you didn’t know this about me, I really only like to do things on my own terms. We casually dated for a few months but I wasn’t ready for any sort of committed relationship. I had only had 1 other boyfriend before and that was in high school and it was so casual that a real relationship scares me. That all changed when I went on a girls trip to Tahiti with some of my friends from the tennis team. After a few too many cocktails one night I decided it was a great idea to get a tattoo of a whale on my ankle. Super logical right? We had just seen a TON of whales off the coast and I was obsessed. (side note – I’m still obsessed with whales and will drop basically anything to go whale watching anytime anywhere) Before making any major decisions I decided to rack up a giant phone bill and call Thomas to run the idea by him. (He’d met my parents a few times at this point since they would come up to visit and take the mens/womens tennis team out for dinner and knew the family dynamic fairly well) and Thomas was like GABY DALKIN if you get a tattoo while you’ve been drinking in Tahiti your mom will be so mad at you. The rest is history. I came home from Tahiti, he surprised me at my house in Tucson and threw me a big birthday party and we’ve been inseparable ever since. We dated for 6 years starting the end of my sophomore year and then got married about almost 5 years ago.

How do I decide what brands to work with?

Easy! Is it a brand that I love? Is it something that I know my audience would appreciate and love? Is it delicious? Is it a product that I can get behind and incorporate into my everyday life? Is it providing some sort of value or education to my readers? Boom. There you go. I always make sure the brands I partner with are on brand for me personally and my audience. No amount of money is worth sacrificing the trust of you guys – EVER.   

What are your top 5 kitchen tools?

1 – my All-Clad Dutch Oven

2 – my Copper Vitamix

3 – Currently obsessed with my Instant-Pot

4 – my Kitchenaid mixer

5 – my Global chefs knife

How do you make the food so pretty?

3 years ago I realized I was allowed to put money back into my brand, (it is my full time business after all and most companies have some sort of overhead) what a concept right? So I tapped 2 of my very best friends, Matt and Adam to help me create a more cohesive What’s Gaby Cooking visual brand. Matt is a food photographer and Adam is a food stylist and between the 3 of us, we come up with all the creative for the images you see here on WGC. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s a little more challenging, but it’s one of my favorite parts of my job.  At this point we’re a well oiled machine. Three musketeers in real life!    

Have you ever paid to promote your blog?

Nope. Haven’t ever done any paid advertising on my end. But sometimes my brand partners will pay to promote a video on Facebook or something along those lines.

What’s your workout routine?

I get this question a LOT.  Here’s the deal…. I eat a lot of food. I can put it down and have zero shame in that. But I have to work out on a daily basis to keep that in check. I have a trainer in LA that I try and see about 3 times a week and we run through an hour of circuit training and my ass is officially kicked at the end of each session. I box 2-3 times a week too – best cardio workout ever. I try and do active things when seeing my friends, so we’ll go for a hike or a walk and then grab a coffee or brunch. AND lastly, I rarely drive. In fact I don’t have a car, so I walk everywhere. 10k steps a day minimum!

What conferences do you attend and think are worthwhile when you’re just getting started? 

When I first started in the culinary world, I went to just about every conference there was. I think it’s super important to get out there and meet your peers, especially when your job is isolating at times. (I mean, hello, blogging is basically sitting at a computer for a LOT of your time)

These days I go to IACP most years and find that the best networking is there. I love it because it’s not just digital media – it’s more food people from all different paths and getting to meet them and hear their stories is always super inspiring.

Can we talk blogging 101? How do you get a blog started?

Yup. First things first – you need a name. What’s Gaby Cooking is obviously what I went for so I bought my domain name online, I bought a host and then set up shop on WordPress. At first my blog was just a template, and over time I’ve hired designers, coders and tech gurus to make it customizable and easy to use for user experience. Do I think you need to hire someone out of the gate to design your blog – nope. I’d say start with a template and nail down your voice and brand before you start doling out money for it. There are various levels of design you can go for once you’re ready. At first I hired a designer to customize a template for me for like $200. After that I had my husband design a logo and build my site. He quickly became too busy to deal with the design and upkeep of my blog so I outsourced and hired a designer to create the What’s Gaby Cooking identity and then had a brilliant code guru / developer build the site from scratch. It’s not cheap but my site is user friendly so that’s a major win!

How did you turn your blog into a business in the very beginning / how long till the blog was my full time income?
oh man – it was a really long time before I started earning any money on WGC. When I first started in 2009 it was a few pennies here and there off of ads. It took about 3 years before I started doing any real sponsored work and it’s grown since then. Here’s the interesting thing – when I started my blog I had no idea it was a viable source of income. It was really just a place for me to brag to my friends and family about what I learned in culinary school. These days I think people start blogs and instagrams in hope of making money – but it’s not as easy as that. It takes a lot of time to build up a following and TRUST which is really important. There were a few deals that I took early on in WGC that I shouldn’t have. They were brands that weren’t really on brand for me and my audience so there were def some growing pains. But it’s all about time, networking, growing your following, being authentic and sharing valuable content. Once I started really honing in on my brand and messaging, things began to pick up because I had a purpose and a message which is something that I didn’t have in the early days. DON’T START your blog if you’re just in it to make money!!

Can you give me an idea of what you eat on a daily basis, workouts that you may do?

omg it really changes on a daily basis. When I’m home, I start almost every day with a smoothie. Lunch is a quick salad of some sort – that kale caesar salad I did a few weeks ago is on heavy rotation these days. Or I’ll eat whatever is leftover in the fridge or whatever I might be recipe testing that day. Dinner is some sort of grilled fish or protein and veggies on the days were attempting to eat clean. But that only is about 50% of the time, so I’m all about pasta and pizza other days. It’s all about balance so if I go balls to the wall at lunch, I try and keep dinner light and vice versa. I’m not good at depriving myself of things, so nothing is off limits. But I do try and moderate. And as for working out – when I’m in LA, I go to Rise Movement 3 times a week for private training. I’m obsessed with my trainers there and it’s the best workout I’ve ever had. It’s a circuit for 60 minutes and I usually get there 30 minutes early to warm up / do a few miles on the treadmill and stretch.

Can you provide the nutritional breakdown of your recipes?

Unfortunately, I can’t. But feel free to plug the exact ingredients you use into any of the free available online calorie counters!

Do you accept guest posts on your site?

Thanks for asking, but I don’t have guest posts on my blog. It’s just how things work over here on WGC.

Can I send you a product to review on your site?

I don’t do product reviews on WGC and I don’t accept free product either. Too much packaging waste! Occasionally I do a sponsored post which often includes some recipe development with a product. If you’re interested in that, shoot me an email and we can talk!

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  1. Susan

    I’m so impressed that you don’t own a car, especially in LA! How do you carry groceries home? Lol.

  2. Wendy Concha

    Hi Gaby! First, I love love LOVE your recipes and am beginning to try the recipes in your first cookbook (Woohoo!). I’ve been following your blog for years and was wondering if you’ll have a cookbook that will include the recipes that made me fall in love with your site way back when such as Slutty Brownies, Carne Asada with Fries… Just to name a few.


    Wendy in NYC

    • Gaby

      Hey Wendy! I have 2 cookbooks, both loaded with recipes!

  3. Erika Harig

    Hey Gaby! I can’t get enough of your website and recipes. I was wondering, what is your go to dish to bring to someone who needs a meal? We have a lot of friends having babies right now and I always struggle with what to bring over. I want to make sure it is versatile (ie can be just as delicious after being frozen). Help!

  4. AJ

    We spend a lot of time at the ballpark. Do you have any tips/ideas for healthy food and snacks we can take to the ballpark to eat but not weigh my children down when they are playing?

  5. Chris bergsten

    NYC mid April.
    Group of 12 restaurant recommendations little Italy are or Nolita?

  6. Lulu

    Can you link to your NASTY WOMAN sweatshirt?? My sister and I need!

  7. Marisa

    Hey Gaby! I love your site and your recipes. I’m always interested in trying one of your pizzas but whenever we do pizza in our house, it’s an epic fail or humongous mess. It’s not the ingredients we’re missing, it’s the technique – the stretching the dough, getting it on the peel, not having it stick to the peel, etc where we FAIL every time. Do you have a video that shows your methods? Thanks and keep the great recipes coming!

    • Marisa

      Thanks so much! You grill the pizza crust before adding toppings… mind blown. We’ve tried pizzas on our green egg and can’t get a huge loaded down trying-to-be-thin-crust mass onto the grill without a disaster. Will definitely try this trick and keep an eye out if you ever make another pizza video!

  8. Jenny

    Hi Gaby! What is the brand of your cutting board and where can I find it? Thank you!

  9. Jacki

    I just came upon your website and I love it!! I’m going to buy your cookbook too! I know that this is a crazy question but… how do I search for a recipe on this site? I see the magnifying glass which I assume is the search button, but after I hit it nothing happens…? Please advise ASAP! I’m just an old middle school teacher that can’t figure out how to maneuver your great website!! What can I say…ya know?!?! ‍♀️ Thank you in advance for your kindness in helping me find the recipe I need to facilitate a party I’m preparing for!!
    Jacki from Florida!
    Go Gators! Class of ‘94!!!!

    • Gaby

      Hey Jacki – what internet browser are you using?

  10. Espie Garcia

    Hi, Gaby! can’t stop reading and going through your posts.❤️

    I should try some soonest!

    Fun watching the videos as well with your other half, Thomas!

    Looking forward to more!

    Thanks a lot!

  11. Ami

    Hi do you have a shopping list for your weekly meal plans . I would love to utilize the ingredients so they do t go to waste after one recipe and it will save money. Let me know your thoughts. Love your turkey taco seasoning

  12. Lynn Connor

    Hi. Gabi!! If you have a weekly menu, do you also list all the ingredients to buy for the week, or do you need to print out each daily recipe list of ingredients?

    • Gaby

      I don’t do a shopping list…. yet. Maybe in the future! It would probably be a paid for service though.

  13. I Wilson

    Hello gaby,
    Just a quick question.
    I will attempt your three tier carrot cake.
    Could you freeze the sponge and decorate at a later date?
    Appreciate any advise.
    Thank you

  14. Lisa

    Good Morning Gaby!

    Say, I used to be able to cook a crustless egg casserole that was nice and fluffy.
    Last night, amongst others, my casserole turned out very flat.
    What’s the trick to a fluffy egg casserole, crustless quiche, every time???

    I’d appreciate your help so much!

    Thanks Love!

    Lisa Rioux

  15. Kurt

    Hi Gaby! Question regarding your 48 hpur Chocolate Chip Cooke on Insta…what temp do you use to bake them and how long? I’m trying to follow your recipe on the website and it says 9 to 10 minutes at 350, but on the Instagram you said 11 and 1/2 minutes but I don’t remember the temperature.

    • Gaby

      it’s kinda dependent on the oven! but somewhere in the 9-11 minute range will do the trick!

  16. Melissa

    Hi Gaby! On things obsessed (thinking of one of your webpage sections), it’s on all whatsgabycooking, including your friend Matt on instagram! I have a question about large kitchen appliances. Do you have recommendations/preferences? I have a small kitchen for which my husband and I would like to get new appliances as we get a little more serious about cooking at home. Any insights would be great! Thank you!

    • Gaby

      Hey Melissa! We’ve always rented so I never really get a say in what large appliances we have. That said – I love the KitchenAid line and SubZero Wolf!!

  17. Tracy

    Gaby, I want to buy a new le Creuset Dutch oven (I only have a small one , like 2 1/2 or 3 qt)……what size do you think I should get next that will be the most useful? I Usually cook for 2, but love making extra for leftovers)

  18. Lorie Homnick

    Just made Moqueca! Absolutely loved it on this chilly fall evening. Thanks for the fresh and delicious recipes.
    PS: Is there anyway to stop the pop up ads On your website? Makes reading a recipe difficult. Thanks!

  19. LeAnne

    Hi! Loveeeeee like everything. I make your recipes weekly! Already twice with the chocolate chip pumpkin bars this season. Curious if you have a stock the bar must haves list for your cocktails?

  20. Chris Bergsten

    What coffee maker do you use at home. You referenced it recently, but I can’t find it. Looking to replace mine

    • Gaby

      If you want meat in it – I say go for it! Brown the sausage and add it when you’re adding the parmesan and eggs and then bake!!

  21. Debbie

    Love the Aerogarden you mention – having fresh herbs daily (though the flowers look gorgeous too). Do you recommend any particular model or size? I see they have many.

    Yeah my gardener says I could make it myself at a fraction of the cost but these look great and easy!

    Thanks Gaby.

  22. Sandy Johnson

    Hi Gaby! I just found you from a friend and her sister who love your Insta posts. I have told every food geeky friend about you. I am getting your cookbook, and this weekend I am making your Christmas Crack, Moroccan Chicken, naan, Mushroom Risotto, and then the tomato soup. You are brilliant at writing the meal plans! There are SO many great recipes! Do you have way (or would you consider) having a way for us to “favorite” or “store” a recipe on line so we don’t have to search? Meanwhile, I will just print them. Thanks! Keep on cooking!

  23. Beckie

    Hey Gaby !
    Need a recipe for a side salad that goes well with curried chicken entree ??
    It’s for tomorrow night – NYE, so i hope you get this in time 🙂



  24. Courtney Castle Adams

    Your adorable sweatsuit. What’s the brand again? Want to get my Mom for her bday. Thanks!!!

  25. Erin Miller

    Hi Gaby! I have $500 to spend on kitchen knives – go! What should I purchase? Also, what sharpener do you suggest?

  26. Sue

    My adult daughters introduced me to you and I am thoroughly enjoying watching your hands-on videos on Instagram! Your fresh, realistic approach to cooking is inspiring.
    One question? Are you able to compost your vegetable peelings? It may not be readily available to you currently, but as an ‘influencer’ it would encourage your fans to do the same.
    Looking forward to your cookbook and tour — will you head to Chicago?

    • Gaby

      Hey Sue!

      Yes – heading to chicago! And currently working with my condo building to add an option for compost for all tenants!

  27. Vargo Williams

    Hi Gaby. How do you recommend cleaning wood cutting boards/blocks. I get so overwhelmed with them. They can be so heavy and awkward in the sink when using dish soap/water. Is there an easier way?

  28. Lindsay

    Hi Gaby! I’ve seen you use cool looking large white bowls (or are they plates with curved sides?) to plate some of your meals. What size/brand do you recommend? Thanks!

  29. Vickie Setzer

    Hi there! I JUST found your website, because a friend shared one of your recipes. Do you post nutrition information? I have to follow a strict diet and would like to know how your recipes fit into my life?

    • Gaby

      Hi Vickie!! I don’t have nutrition information at the moment!

  30. Lisa Culler

    Hi Gaby,
    I am looking for a recipe for tri tip, using All things meat, can you help?

  31. Patty Davis

    What is Gaby’s Guacamole Starter? Where can I buy it or get the recipe? Would like to make Poblano Enchiladas. Thank you.

  32. Jo Crosby

    What is the name of your mother’s pottery. I love your big fruit bowl. TY

  33. Christine DeSousa

    Hi Gaby – “quarantine cooking”. Would love to see some receipes using canned poblanos pretty please:-)



  34. Gary Dagres

    I am married to a wonderful woman, Whitney Mercer, who is a big fan of yours. We own all of your cookbooks, including a duplicate of a cookbook because you sent her an autographed copy.

    Recently I have suggested dishes like soup or baked desserts, which were soundly rejected. Weeks later, after you wrote about soup and baked desserts, ie M&M bars, my wife made them right away.

    As a result, I’d like to suggest you write a post about some sort of decadent chocolate brownies. My wife and I are wrapping up a lenten season where we abstained from sugary and sweets. Here is hoping that my little experiment works.

    I will be sure to let you know if Whitney makes brownies.

    All the best,
    Gary Dagres

  35. Cathy

    What do you do with all the food you cook?
    You can’t possibly eat it all

    • Gaby

      we sure do!! I love leftovers! and when we shoot everything, we distribute it to the whole team (8 people) who takes food home for their fams

  36. Debbie Christianson

    Hi Gaby,
    I just discovered you after watching Katy Lee and your live Instagram post. I really enjoyed listening to you both and have been watching your IGTV posts ever since! I‘m addicted! I was particularly interested when I heard you partner with Williams-Sonoma! My absolute favorite!!! Anyway, I want to make your Chocolate Chip cookie recipe, but having trouble finding bread flour (due to covid) but, after I find some, my question is when you say “course salt” do you mean Kosher or Maldon? Sorry the long winded question! Thank you so much!

    • Gaby

      either one works! I use them interchangeably!! xx

  37. Kana

    Hi Gaby!! Congratulations on your new book!!!! SOOO excited to get mine! But I had a question and don’t know if this was the right place… but I live in Japan and ordered my book on Amazon Japan. It still says your book is out of stock! I was wondering if amazon Japan will be updates soon too:)?? Just can’t wait to get your book!!!

    • Gaby

      amazon is padding all orders right now with covid – it’s not out of stock anywhere it’s just slower to ship!

  38. Janey Petty

    I have just stumbled across your website and blog, thanks to Katie Lee. I’m definitely trying your recipes soon!! Do you ever cook gluten free? If so, do you have a favorite gluten free flour?


    • Gaby

      I’ve heard great things about Bob’s Red Mill GF Flour!

  39. Sarah Jane

    Hey Gaby!

    Do you have/will you have any events planned later in the fall/early winter? My friend and I would LOVE to see and meet you in person!

    Also, my friends birthday is at the end of September. Do you offer any fun Gaby personalized gift sets? She already has your cookbook!

    Thanks 🙂

    Sarah J

  40. Kay

    Hi Gaby,

    Do you have a beef short ribs recipe that does not involve the use of alcohol?
    Love all your recipes!

  41. Vanessa

    Gaby, just wanted to drop in and say I love your recipes! First saw you on food network and started following you. I’ve made SEVERAL of your recipes and they are always a hit with the whole family 🙂 Thanks so much for all of the inspiration!

  42. Barrie Brown

    Have you ever thought of selling or could you tell me where you buy your beautiful charcuterie boards that you use when you make your cheese boards on your website?

  43. Karen

    Looking for your “go to seasoning” recipe that you use in your chicken kabobs.
    Thank you!