Badass Women of Detroit's Hospitality Industry: Ederique Goudia

by Courtney Burk of Batch Brewing

Photos by Valaurian Waller, V.W. Photography & Courtney Burk

Photo by Courtney Burk

Photo by Courtney Burk

Foodlab Detroit and Keep Growing Detroit hosted the first of the Fruits of Our Labor dinner series on the farm in Eastern Market. In the heat of the summer, the community gathered around a table filled with culture and history, evident in the dishes, conversations, and décor (with a few parasols and cocktails raised high). The dinner brought together an outstanding group of women chefs and farmers, who are leveraging their talent through a food journey along the Transatlantic Slave Route from Africa to the Americas to deepen their impact on Detroit’s local food system.

I met with Ederique Goudia; co-owner of Gabriel Hall Detroit, Classroom Facilitator for Detroit Food Academy, Program Associate for Foodlab Detroit, and co-owner of In the Business of Food. We met after the dinner at Destination 1905, where we were sat at the bar and had a wonderful discussion on Detroit’s hospitality industry.

Photo by Vaularian Waller, V. W. Photography

Photo by Vaularian Waller, V. W. Photography

The dish you featured for the Fruits of Our Labor dinner series was gumbo z’herbes. What was the reasoning behind that specific, absolutely delicious dish?

Throughout the dinner, we wanted to highlight all the things that are a part of who we are as African-American women in the city of Detroit, from all different areas. My dish, the gumbo z’herbes, is one of those dishes you don’t get everywhere. It was also an opportunity to utilize all the amazing greens that are grown in the city.

Photo by Courtney Burk

Photo by Courtney Burk

Leah Chase, who was considered the Queen of Creole Cuisine and was famous for the dish, was my inspiration for the dish-- as she had just recently passed away. She always cooked it on Holy Thursday-- the day before Good Friday-- and her gumbo z’herbes would be filled with a lot of meat (because it was the last day you were able to eat meat before Good Friday). She would put chaurice smoked sausage, Andouille, chicken, smoked turkey, salt pork, and sometimes even stew meat. Along with all the meat would be nine different types of greens. According to her, the number of greens is the number of friends you’re going to make in that year, and hopefully one of them will be rich. So of course, the more greens you have, the more friends you will make— and she always insisted it was bad luck to do an even number of greens.

The gumbo z’herbes was an opportunity that allowed me to highlight all the abundance of greens grown in the city, and it was the perfect season for it. Swiss chard, cabbage, collards, turnips, spinach, mustards, and I was even able to incorporate in beet tops that Relish used in their roasted beet and strawberry salad.

Photo by Courtney Burk

Photo by Courtney Burk

Going back to your Louisiana roots— what is the first memory you have of food there, and how has it impacted you as a chef and restauranteur?

I was born and raised in Louisiana; my grandfather lived across the street from us and he had three gardens. And so I was raised with everything coming out of the garden. I did not know what it was like to shop for produce until he passed away when I was sixteen. We ate what he grew, and if he didn’t grow it we would barter with a neighbor. He raised hogs and would slaughter them so we would have fresh sausage, ham, pork chops, and things of that nature. He had a grinder and he would throw in red peppers and grind his own cayenne, and his smoker would allow him to smoke his own Andouille sausage.

One of the funny things that he would do – he had an older F150, and in south Louisiana it rains a lot which means a lot of the streets flood. When it would rain, he would go out in his truck— and there was a strip of the highway where both sides were surrounded by the swamp. So, when the water would rise, the turtles would cross. He would go out and hit the turtles with his truck and put them in the bed, and then he’d take them home. He would then take them all out of the shells and make turtle stew. All in all, the man was very self sufficient and sustaining. 

Memories of my childhood are usually of spending time in the garden with my grandfather, who we called “Pop”. I would be out there with him picking strawberries or carrots, planting, shucking corn or peas – I was raised doing all of these things. And now, being in such close relations with local farms and gardens brings back so many fond memories. One time the Foodlab staff volunteered at Keep Growing Detroit, and we were pulling garlic scapes. My grandfather loved garlic so much that he cooked with a lot of it, and it was almost seeping out of his pores. It was hot out and I had on a straw hat, which he always wore, and I’m pulling these scapes, and the aroma was like he was next to me. Those things bring back so many memories, and it feels like I’m going back to where I came from.

Freshly grown is so different than what you find in a grocery store. So, cleaning and chopping and prepping all of those greens for the Fruits of Our Labor dinner, it was literally 30 bunches, but doing all of that made me feel like I was back home. It really did. 

Jumping back a little to Foodlab Detroit, the dinner, and the amazing collaboration and community of women that was represented – what is your favorite part of being in this industry?

I love being in fellowship with such amazing women because we work together in different ways, whether it be referral, collaborating, or helping with a pop-up. We’re all Foodlab members, so that’s really how it all started. Le’Genevieve and Brittiany, who co-own Experience Relish, took a Foodlab workshop that I facilitated, and after the last class they came up to me and asked if they could have an hour of my time to ask me questions and to talk about their business. We ended up meeting at my house in my home office. And six hours later, they walked my dog and had dinner there, and from that a relationship really started to build. That was over two years ago, and with trying to guide them and share with them, I’ve learned a lot, and vice versa. 

I remember the exact moment they asked me to be their mentor and I was like, I don’t know about being anybody’s mentor— we’re all the same. If you’re going to call me your mentor, I want to make sure I possess those skills, but I remember Le’Genevieve saying “I’m going to be attached to your hip from now on,” and I laughed— but she literally is, and I love it. They’re so amazing.

And you have those connections with these people, and you can see it in who they are and what they do that they just need a little push or nudging and then they’re able to run with it. And that’s what I really saw in them. These are two amazing women with great ideas, and if I can just pour into them and help them to flourish, then my job is done. And that’s what it’s really been these past two years. We lean on each other.  They’re now both my culinary advisors when I need another palate – so we work together in a lot of ways and we’re constantly checking on each other. We’ve gotten really close over these past two years— as a mater of fact, we talked everyday during their four month chef externship in Goa, India earlier this year.

Photo by Vaularian Waller, V. W. Photography

Photo by Vaularian Waller, V. W. Photography

That’s absolutely inspiring, and I love how this community brings people together and forms lasting relationships. Can you please talk a bit about the West Village community and Gabriel Hall Detroit, and the support you’ve seen there?

Gabriel Hall which will be a Creole restaurant, bar, and music venue located at 8002 Kercheval Ave, and we’re under construction right now. My business partner Dameon Gabriel and myself are co-owners, and we cannot wait to open the doors! For us, it’s really about representing the culture of New Orleans ,and we like to say we sit at the intersection of food, music, and culture – and that’s what you’ll find at Gabriel Hall. 

During construction, we’re introducing our idea and food through monthly pop-ups. Usually, we have at least one a month and we also are available for caterings. A lot of the time, our pop-ups are held at Nancy Whiskey over in Corktown, but we’ve popped up at a variety of locations. It’s a great way to experiment with different menu items to see if our customers like them and get some really honest feedback, even on pricing structures. And at our pop-ups we will always have a music component, be it a DJ or live band, because of course that’s what you’ll find once our doors open.

The residents and businesses in West Village, and really all the villages, have been super supportive. For example, Lisa from Sister Pie has been so helpful with advice and encouragement. Dave from Heavyweight Cuts, the barbershop next door that has been in the neighborhood for over 20 years, lets us know if something’s happening at the building. And Vittoria, a resident who I met and befriended through Hatch Detroit. That kind of support is absolutely priceless.

You’re the co-owner of Gabriel Hall but you do so much more in the food community aside from just providing really great food. What other food inspired projects do you have your hands in?

I am the Program Associate for Foodlab Detroit, and that fills most of my days. I absolutely love the work that not only I do for Foodlab, but also the work that Foodlab does in the community. Foodlab is a member-based nonprofit that provides tools and resources for local food-based entrepreneurs. As a member myself, what has benefitted us the most is our active and supporting community of like-minded entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship can be lonely, and it can get lonely very quickly, and to be in a community with other business owners in the food industry, be it a brick and mortar, product, or food truck – it’s something I’ve loved and appreciated most about being a member. Our members are so inspiring, and that’s why it fills most of my days!

I’m also a Classroom Facilitator for Detroit Food Academy, a non-profit that aims to inspire the youth of Detroit through cooking, business, and food entrepreneurship. We go into the basics of cooking, finances, readership, and knife skills. Then we go into the operations of running a food based business. Students create their own triple-bottom line food-based business, market it, create a logo, and sell it. Working with our young people has been the most rewarding.

And outside of Gabriel Hall, I co-own a consulting agency called In the Business of Food. We create curriculum, facilitate workshops, and utilize other tools in the industry like design work and food photography. So, all-in-all, a day in the life is pretty crazy – but always exciting. In everything I have my hands in, it’s all community deepening relationships, with food at the center of it all. I guess you can say I’m passionate about this industry and the impact it can have on our communities.

Photo by Vaularian Waller, V. W. Photography

Photo by Vaularian Waller, V. W. Photography

Talk about crazy busy. So, on top of all of those projects Gabriel Hall is under construction and your hosting monthly popups and caterings. What’s it like hosting popups and creating the environment in someone else’s space?

A pop-up day is really fun, it really is. It feels just like how I talked about a day on the farm and being in a relationship with farmers brought me back to my roots and back at home. Pop-up days are really the same thing. Instead of being that country girl standing in the garden pulling radishes, it reminds me of being in the city of New Orleans and getting that kind of southern hospitality. And that’s what I really want people to feel when they come to Gabriel Hall. We’re in Detroit, but you also stepped into that little bit of New Orleans and forget for a minute where you are.

I think that’s a reason why we have so many people that return to our pop-ups. We have returning customers ,and they come every time and bring family and friends. That’s just amazing to see, and we never take that for granted. We always want to make sure they have a reason to come back and a reason to bring more people to experience not only the food and music, but the hospitality that Gabriel Hall provides.

As for the days themselves, they vary, and we learn from every pop-up we host. And I love this industry because it’s constantly teaching me new things. And for the opportunity just to get back in the flow of being on the line, calling out orders, delegating responsibilities, knowing who’s worked a pop-up before and in what station for a smooth execution, and even building a team.

As for the menu— we want to make sure it’s a reflection of Detroit’s seasonal offerings while staying true to the idea that you could find it in New Orleans. Gumbo is one of the items that appears on the menu when it gets colder, and in the summer months, we’ll feature a po’boy. Fried green tomato po’boys during the small window of green tomato season is a good way to balance the two things we’re trying to represent with our menu. Getting those tomatoes fresh, cutting them up, and battering them and putting them in a po’boy. It’s funny because that began as a vegetarian option and has since become a high in-demand item we have available during that season.

That sounds absolutely delicious. And here I was thinking shrimp po’boys were the stars of the show.

Actually, it was originally the poor man’s sandwich, and the original po’boy was fried potatoes and gravy. It was basically French fries and gravy between bread and dressed – which always means lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayonnaise.

But experimental items like the fried green tomato po’boy and the voodoo poutine are going to be items that appear on our menu at Gabriel Hall. We would have never been able to get feedback and experiment with those if it had not been for the pop-ups!

Tell me a little about this voodoo seasoning Gabriel Hall is known for. There was voodoo gravy on the main course and there was so many hushed whispers of excitement around that particular ingredient.

Ha! We wanted to come up with something that was very signature to Gabriel Hall. It was a mix of flavor profiles that we wanted to bring together – flavor profiles I personally grew up with or flavors that both Dameon and I enjoy, and putting them together worked. But I can guarantee I can tell you exactly who started those hushed whispers. Shout out to Amy from Shady Ladies! And this is how this ecosystem works and what I love about Detroit.

Backstory to that, Amy started Shady Ladies Literary Society two years ago, and I had just become the Program Associate at Foodlab Detroit and I came to this meeting with both her and Devita. And during that meeting Devita and Amy are talking about the next chef to be featured at the next event, and Amy said she really wanted to reach out to the chef over at Gabriel Hall – to which I gave a little wave.

And the first dinner I did with Shady Ladies was a dinner on the stage at Chene Park and I did another one at MOCAD when Amy brought Tomy Adeyemi, author of best-selling novel “Children of Blood and Bone”. It was at this event that I began to collaborate with other female chefs so they could be showcased and their stories could be told as well. So, it would be four of five courses, and I would ask a chef to do the dessert, and I could tell her story and she could be highlighted too. Amy loved that so much that she asked me to become the Culinary Curator for all the Shady Ladies dinners.

By far one of my favorite things about Detroit’s hospitality industry is how connected everyone is and it all comes full circle.

My mom and sister relocated from New Orleans to help us with the restaurant and when people ask her how she feels about the move, she says it best:

“I’ve never met a stranger and I feel like I’m home.”

Photo by Vaularian Waller, V. W. Photography

Photo by Vaularian Waller, V. W. Photography