Reyes has pursued performance on the stage and screen since she was a child. Cooking, however, came into her life later on, after a long battle with body dysmorphia and eating disorders.
Her discovery of “the healing power of plants” in 2011 changed her relationship to food entirely and prompted her to share a newfound love of culinary arts with her friends and husband, multimedia creative Ace Anderson.
A knack for creating wholesome, worldly recipes led Reyes to build an independent vegan catering and consulting company, where she spread the word of “colorful, vibrant, delicious food,” as “it’s not everyone’s journey to eat vegan, but it is everyone’s journey to eat more plants,” she says.
Reyes’ work as a chef took a turn when music began to seep into her recipes.
“We typically jammed and sang ... the songs started becoming about the food, and he would start beatboxing, and it all just happened sort of organically,” Reyes says.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Reyes hosted traveling “Colorful Cooking Classes,” performing and educating broad audiences on the benefits of putting more plants on the plate. Now, however, the internet is her main stage.
With Anderson’s helping hands behind the camera, Reyes has been developing a cookbook titled Colorful Home Cooking and creating videos on her own channel and for a variety of upcoming big named companies (which are currently under wraps).
“It’s been really cool to see that grow through doing exactly what I love to do and what I’ve always done: singing, cooking and getting to be Gabrielle Reyes,” she says.
“It has really taught me about how to merge foods and flavors together, to eat the best of all the worlds,” Reyes says.
From Jamaican ackee to “pizzadillas” to country-fried “chickrooms” (mushrooms madeto taste like chicken), Reyes continually seeks to “create a mixture of things that everyone would enjoy” by bringing flavors and cultures together in a plant-based, largely gluten-free style.
Bringing plant-based delights to the screen is a seemingly unpolitical act, however Reyes notes that “food is always going to be political.”
In an age of rampant food deserts around the U.S., a push toward making plants more accessible perhaps needs to be addressed as such, she says.
“I’m here to share the food, the joy, the light-hearted splendor of being able to eat colorful home cooking,” Reyes says. “And from that opening, have a truthful conversion about the reality of how it [the meat and dairy industry] is marginalizing people of color and minority groups.”
Find more information on Reyes and watch One Great Vegan online.