Admit it, when you started your food blog, you daydreamed that it would be the key to your glamorous new career as a food writer - or better. For Bay Area native Gabi Moskowitz, her blog BrokeAss Gourmet really did swing open doors and change her life. Since launching the blog in 2008, she has parlayed her focus on cheap and cheerful recipes into two well received cookbooks, and is now the inspiration for Young & Hungry, a half-hour comedy that debuted Wednesday, June 25, on ABC Family.
The show stars Emily Osment and tells the story of Gabi Diamond, whom we first meet heading to a job interview with tech millionaire Josh Kaminski, played by Jonathan Sadowski. Her competition for the private chef gig is Michael Voltaggio, gamely playing himself.
The millionaire chooses Gabi instead of the Top Chef champion to move onto the trial dinner phase, based on one stellar grilled cheese sandwich ("It's so ooey-gooey!") and most likely the fact that she works wearing a killer pair of 4-inch stiletto booties. After the tech wizard's proposal to his girlfriend fails, our heroine spoon-feeds him mashed potatoes and wakes up the next day in his bed. Oops. Later, when Kaminski reconciles with his now-fiancee, he tells Gabi that his lawyers have advised him he can't fire her, so the gig is hers if she wants it. Talk about job security. And with that, a sitcom is born.
We spoke with the real Gabi about her life and the journey from BrokeAss Gourmet to consultant on a show based on her life. The first thing she wants you to know is that the character on the show is a fictionalized version of her and, no, she has never slept with her boss.
Squid Ink: So how did this all happen?
Gabi Moskowitz: I started my blog, BrokeAss Gourmet, when the economy bottomed out. One day Barry Kotler of Creative Artists Agency emailed me and said he thought the blog was great and had potential as a TV show. I was like, OK, why not.
I'd just signed my book deal for The BrokeAss Gourmet Cookbook, and we kept in touch. In the fall of 2012, he reached out and said he had connected with a few production companies. My Hollywood story so far is not a classic one. I have had nothing but good people come my way.
SI: Had you envisioned the blog as a show?
GM: No! I wrote a blog as a hobby. My approach was to go to these meetings and have a good time. I brought my book as a prop.
SI: How did Michael Voltaggio get involved?
GM: I don't know. One of the executives knows him. We just wanted a recognizable chef and he was game. It wouldn't have made sense with Bobby Flay, though, ya know? It had to be someone cool and up-and-coming. The highlight for me was that he was familiar with my blog. As a foodie and a food writer, it was really exciting to meet him.
SI: What's your involvement with the show now?
GM: I'm executive consultant - so basically, anything having to do with food, I made suggestions on. A couple of months ago, the entire writing staff came up to San Francisco and I organized a tour for them so they could write the show the way people here would. We went to a startup office, took a tour of the town, and I brought them to restaurants I like. I'm part of the creative think tank and I hope that continues. I love getting to have conversations about what Gabi would cook or eat. We're two different people, but I do think the spirit of who I am is very much there.
SI: You're also doing webisodes where you cook with the cast every week?
GM: Yes! Everything in the kitchen on the set of the show works. So we film the webisodes there. I cooked with Emily - she can cook. She's young but knows what she's doing. I had been on Kym Whitley's show on the O Network to cook, too. And every week I get to cook on the set, and you can watch and learn.
SI: Are the writers food people?
GM: I would bet that was a requirement.
SI: What do you think of the adorable but impractical-for-cooking outfits Gabi wears on the show?
GM: For Gabi Diamond, clothes are part of the story. I wouldn't ever wear heels in the kitchen, but I completely support the direction the show chose with her wardrobe.
SI: You've said you love Gjelina. What other restaurants do you like in L.A.?
GM: Din Tai Fung. I love 26 Beach. Loteria Grill! I also had breakfast at the Griddle Cafe. I've never seen such big pancakes - it was delicious. And I love ink. I'm usually at the mercy of other people's food choices, though. I've eaten a lot of lunches in Burbank.
What I haven't said much is that I've grown to appreciate L.A. in a way I never have before. You know that San Francisco versus L.A. rivalry? I learned no one in L.A. cares about the beef with S.F., but I felt it for a long time. Now I'm majorly appreciating the food scene in L.A. It's innovative and fresh, and I'm really loving that. I'm from Santa Rosa, and devoted to San Francisco, but part of me regrets never having lived in L.A.
SI: Are you still a BrokeAss Gourmet?
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GM: Sure! It works and I want to keep seeing where it takes me. Dreams really do come true.
Young & Hungry airs on Wednesday nights on ABC Family. Gabi Moskowitz continues to blog at BrokeAss Gourmet.