Chef-in-training pursues culinary path

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This is one in a series of four articles about students who plan to continue their elective studies after high school.

Ben Shofet, staff writer

Junior Joel Gabai is cooking up his third year in culinary arts. He plans on extending his culinary career by enlisting in the United States Navy.

“After high school I’m thinking of enlisting in the United States Navy as a culinary specialist. They provide more opportunities,” Gabai said.

Gabai plans on serving for 20 years in the United States Navy. After his service, he would like to open or manage his own BBQ style restaurant.

Gabai’s interest in culinary began freshman year, but has grown tremendously in the past year.  Watching the Food Network stoked Gabai`s curiosity for cooking.

“I was just watching the [Food Network] one day and I was really interested in it; it was something that just grabbed my attention real quick,” Gabai said.

Gabai participated in Skills USA, a culinary competition for students in high school and college. Gabai was one of two students from Beverly who participated in the competition, and he ranked ninth out of 15 in his specific competition.

Chef Rick Leece was quick to praise Gabai.

“[Joel] did, and does, really well,” Leece said.

Leece has classified Gabai as one of most his “dedicated” and “passionate” students in the program.

“Whenever I need something to be done outside of the assignment I’ve given, if it’s something extra I need done, he’s always more than happy to do it. He follows details really well. When I have a student like Joel in the class who is so experienced with it, he can help me almost like an aid. He’s mature, he’s a gentlemen and he does have a natural skill for cooking. Things come easy to him,” Leece said.

Gabai, however, retains the humility that every professional chef must have after cooking the perfect dish.

“I’m just the average student,” Gabai said.

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