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Hispanic Heritage Month: Talking with Chef Gabriel Balderas, owner of El Cabo Verde, Zuzul

Chef Gabriel Balderas is a busy man, running his two restaurants, El Cabo Verde and Zuzul...
Chef Gabriel Balderas is a busy man, running his two restaurants, El Cabo Verde and Zuzul Coastal Cuisine, he also serves as a board member to the Metropolitan Planning Commission. He sat down with KSLA News 12′s Domonique Benn for lunch.
Published: Oct. 8, 2021 at 11:56 AM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - Chef Gabriel Balderas is a busy man.

Between running his two restaurants, El Cabo Verde and Zuzul Coastal Cuisine, he also serves as a board member to the Metropolitan Planning Commission. He sat down with KSLA News 12′s Domonique Benn for lunch.

Chef Gabriel Balderas: Part of our tradition in a Spanish-speaking country — is family. Grandma, mom and being around the kitchen from an early age, that’s inspiration, y’know? We do, we replicate recipes and dishes that our grandparents or our great-great-grandparents have done.

Domonique Benn: And you own two restaruants here.

CGB: Yes.

DB: Wow! What is the inspiration of El Cabo Verde and Zuzul?

CGB: The spirit behind our business has always been community. We want to create a business that fills our community and creates community. What I mean by this, I want to be able to source ingredients from surrounding areas and source things that are local to this area. To me, our inspiration is the area, the region, the community, the people. Zuzul was - actually - it’s a river in Oaxaca. I grew up fishing and swimming. When we talked about opening up a seafood restaurant in town was to be able to bring the different types of seafood. Fresh ingredients, the different fish. Different shellfish for people to be able to familiarize or be able to recognize or more aware of that there are more fish.

DB: How would you sum up or what would you want people to know about your culture?

CGB: Well, I believe that you know, it’s been challenging the last few years for our community and I believe that. For everybody, the pandemic. I think for our culture, I’d like people to know y’know, if you encounter somebody from a Spanish-speaking country, reach out. To say, engage try to meet. Get to know them a little bit. We’re more of a, we come from a culture where we like to celebrate. It’s very similar to Louisiana.

DB Yes.

CGB: We like to celebrate! We celebrate everything. It’s the same. We have a lot similarities between Hispanic culture and Louisiana.

DB: You’re now a part of Metropolitan Planning Commission, the MPC. Being a Hispanic member on that commission, how does that help the Hispanic heritage and culture here in Shreveport-Bossier?

CGB: Well, y’know, first you have to create, which I am very honored to be apart of the MPC. We want to, of course, create awareness in the community in Shreveport and in North Louisiana. To me, it’s educating the community about our culture. That’s the beginning. For me, I believe the representation is important because we want to pass (the culture) down to our children, the following generation. So it’s important for us to represent so that people can follow our steps, our example. To me, it’s important in our community because we’re a minority. So, it’s important to share that.

DB: Y’know Hispanic Heritage Month — it’s going on right now.

CGB: It’s important. It’s an identity and culture, tradition, that’s something that identifies us as a culture. Every civilization on Earth that is what defines you. If you don’t have this tradition, this culture - then you have no identity. It’s very important for one to continue to preserve the traditions, the culture. To pass it on to the following generation. It’s been challenging the last few years, for our community. I believe that, for everybody, the pandemic. I think for our culture, I would like people to know, if you encounter someone from a Spanish speaking country, reach out and engage try to meet, maybe get to know them a little bit. We’re more, we come from a culture that loves to celebrate.

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