Not everyone gets to make a living out of their passion. But for Gabriel Hoyos, also known as Gabilondoh, his passion has become his career. Gabriel Hoyos was born in Bogotá, Colombia and since a very early age, he fell in love with the kitchen. When he finished high school, he moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to study the art of cooking. After working and studying for 7 years in the south, he decided to return to his home country to be able to work with Colombia’s native products. He worked for several restaurants in Bogotá until he decided to become independent. Today, he has his own business which offers on-site barbeques. He is also the creator of the Comedor Ocasional (or Occasional Dinner in English), which is a pop-up restaurant in Colombia.
How would you describe the Comedor Ocasional to someone who has never attended one of your events?
It is a unique experience, where I set-up a diner around a grill for friends or strangers to meet with a cold beer and a burger. It is better defined as a pop-up restaurant. The location and menu of each Comedor Ocasional is always different, making each Comedor a unique experience.
Where did the idea of the Comedor Ocasional and the barbeque business come from?
Before I became unemployed, a friend of mine made a video of me making a hamburger when I was working at Smoking Molly (see the video below).
Many people saw this video. A friend mine told me, “Gabi, I want you to cook the burger of your video on my birthday party.” I went to his party and since then starting cooking and making barbeques for private events. A couple of weeks later, a family was having a birthday party in Subachoque and they invited me to sell my burgers. I prepared and bought ingredients for 200 burgers for that day but only sold 70. I came up with the idea of selling the remaining burgers on my building’s rooftop. I ended up selling all of them from that week. And that was my first experience hosting a Comedor Ocasional. Each day of the week I offered a menu with three dishes for people to choose from. I also continued offering my barbecue business for private events.
How do you get new clients?
Gabriel Hoyos, also known as Gabilondoh | Ana LondoñoI get hired for many private events through Instagram. I have a very solid base of followers on my account @Gabilondoh. People that know me, hire me for cook outs and barbecues, and guests that attend those events like the food and hire me. I also advertise through Facebook, and that reaches many customers. But what gets me the most customers is the word of mouth.
What is your day like in preparation for the Comedor Ocasional?
Actually the preparation starts days before, when I go to the food market and I meet with the suppliers. I then plan out the menu, depending on the availability of the suppliers. After that, I have to find a place to host the Comedor, I generally host them at hostels. When I have the place, the date and the menu ready, I publish the graphic design of the menu on my social media. Then I have to get all the products and utensils we need for cooking. The day before the Comedor Ocasional, we try to get some of the cooking done, sometimes we fry potatoes, we make the sauces, etc. At the same time, I’m always checking for the reservations that are being made to make sure I do not over or undercook. I also have to go to the location and start taking things, check if I need a grill, a barrel of beer or a tent. Then I have to make the inventory and check that we are not missing anything. The day of the Comedor Ocasional, I go to the location and start making the fire, then start cooking the food, arranging the plates, chairs and tables, so when the people arrive, we are ready to serve them food. I usually hire a waitress and a cook to assist me in the event, so it’s a team effort.
How do you differ from a regular restaurant?
I would define my food as food from the market. This means that I cook depending on the availability of the market, the climate, the season, etc.
I try to find local producers, small businesses to get my products from, such as the cheese, tomato, etc. I also try to make a different menu each time. Even though most people know me for my hamburgers, I always do something different. I change the sauce, the appetizers, the type of meat, I also make sandwiches, etc.
How do you see the future of your business?
I have been cooking burgers for nearly two years and a half. At the moment, thanks to my team, I can host two barbeques in the same day. I would like to grow by hiring more people and also renting a bigger place to prepare the food before the events, that way I will be able to host up to five barbeques in one day. Basically, my goal is to have a solid company.
Una de las razones por las que hacemos tantas es la practicidad al momento de servirlas por estar entre panes , aunque a veces haya clientes como los de hoy que te piden un menú distinto. Me fui hasta @puraboxcubiertos (en la Castellana, 100% biodegradables ) cracks que me recomendaron invertir en redes en vez de hacer marcar los cubiertos (hay que pedir mil :/ y ). Acá somos recursivos y emprendedores y con plumones en 10 minutos ya teníamos marcados los primeros 100.