Jared Gadbaw is bringing some Big Apple experience to the Motor City.
He is an award-winning chef with two Michelin Stars and several other impressive accolades under his belt. The Detroit native is bringing years of experience to Milwaukee Junction with Oak & Reel, a seafood-centric Italian restaurant he hopes the community will call home.
EXP: You’ve been in NYC for 15 years – how does it feel to bring that level of culinary experience back home to Detroit?
JG: It’s a humbling experience and I realize I’ve been blessed with my opportunities. One of my favorite things about being a chef is the mentoring and the passing of knowledge, and coming home to do that is something I knew I always wanted to do.
EXP: How did you come up with the concept for Oak & Reel?
JG: I was at Marea for over nine years and people from all around the world knew about it. I wanted to bring something like that here to Detroit. Seafood isn’t a prominent feature in Midwestern home meals and all cultures love noodles so I put the two together. I want Oak & Reel to be a Detroit staple.
EXP: A lot has changed since you’ve left Detroit, what are you most excited to see happening in the city?
JG: Seeing growth and development and looking across the street to construction happening. It’s special to see the renaissance truly unfold in earnest.
EXP: What makes New Center special?
JG: There is so much beautiful architecture downtown that it wasn’t hard to envision something beautiful but after being in NYC for years I just got tired of looking up at buildings and being surrounded by concrete. I had a vision of working with local growers and it’s great to look outside to see Michigan Urban Farming Initiative feeding the neighborhood. This space just spoke to me.
“Ultimately, I wanted to be part of something more than just a space creating delicious food for people who can afford it.”
EXP: What makes the Detroit market so intriguing to chefs and restaurateurs?
JG: I’ve always had an eye towards Detroit and have been waiting for that sustained momentum. The momentum kept building and it was exciting to watch local chefs and restaurants from afar being recognized nationally and featured in magazines like Food & Wine. The growth and development here allow you to be part of something great.
EXP: You’ve earned many titles and accolades from your endeavors. Which one has meant the most to you?
JG: Of course, my wife and children are my greatest accomplishment, but professionally the relationships I’ve build throughout the years. There are cooks and chefs I still talk to on a regular basis that dedicated years of their life to help me grow my career.
EXP: How does a chef earn Michelin Stars and what does it mean?
JG: It means several things – one Michelin star means you’re a great restaurant, two stars is an exceptional spot, and three stars means you’re one of the best in the world. It’s a privilege but it’s also a lot of hard work to get there. You have to make sure you’re sharp and constantly pushing to be better.
EXP: Did you always know you wanted to be in hospitality?
JG: I grew up in a big family and we liked to party. I always knew I had a knack for putting ingredients together and it morphed into something more. I went to the French Culinary Institute and then grew from there.
EXP: What’s next for Jared Gadbaw?
JG: To build Oak & Reel into a Detroit staple and have it become the go-to spot for Italian and seafood. It’s a big space so I hope to cater, host weddings, hold block parties, and I want this to become a second home to not just my family but to everybody.