Mum, Mary, Josephine, Salem, George, Marliene, Gabriella, Sebastien family and friends,
First of all, I would like to tell you all that I never thought about this day. I never imagined being here. And I never imagined having to say these words in front of you all.
It is very hard for me to condense half a life time of memories that Gabby and I shared together, but I feel that I owe it to Gab to give a small tribute to a huge man.
I have worked with Gabby for the past 21 years, 6days a week up to 16 hours per day, in a relentless industry, but one that we loved. Our relationship, was much more than a friendship it was a strong bond between two people, it was a relationship that didn’t need words …an unspoken understanding, a look, a smile or a nod was all that was needed …we understood, respected and loved each other like brothers. People often joked that our relationship was more like a marriage, now it reigns true as today…
I have lost my partner, my rock, my brother.
I was lucky to meet Gabby more than 21 years ago, as he started his apprenticeship as an eager young chef, who worked up the ranks and learnt the hard way, a true soldier of the industry! Nothing was too much for him, from doing incredibly long hours to working late then backing up with a morning shift, to coming in on his days off to sacrificing his precious family time as many of us do in this industry.
He worked in some of the top restaurants in Sydney with amazing chefs such Guillaume Brahimi, Justin North, Sean Connolly just to name a few. In his own right he was an incredible chef. He could have followed the big named chefs in Sydney and made a name for himself but not Gabs, instead he followed me. His loyalty was indescribable.
Gabby was a simple guy who never wanted to be glorified he didn't want medals or to be recognised for his work. He was happy to work away in the background and never demanded attention. He was by my side and my solid support. I have never met an individual with such dedication and love for his job, he had a heart of gold, never a bad word to say about anybody, a quirky personality, quick witted sense of humour and a smile that said a 1000 words!
There are a number of amazing things that I will remember about a man who always put everyone ahead of himself, a family man, a man that made time for others, a man that had unconditional love, a man that worried about the small things, a man of substance, a man like no other!
He had so many beautiful qualities but for me the most outstanding asset was his generosity. His generosity extended from his time he spent with others, to his time he gave to the industry; to the money and gifts he gave to others to his generous huge hugs, kisses and smile to his generous servings of food he put on a plate. He opened his heart to all of us; his kindness was in his DNA!
I must tell you that, Gabby has had a huge impact on Bitton, from the very beginning 15 years ago to his last shift on Saturday evening.
Our ten year business partnership we had was simply exceptional and can only wish anyone the same level of trust understanding and respect as we had for each other. Unfortunately 3 years ago Gaby wanted out because of his health and stress but we wanted him to stay with us and he kept working for us with the same level of commitment and dedication, if not more!
Bitton is not Bitton without our Gabba Gabs, he simply gave so much to us, our family and our business. Every single person who encountered him loved him, especially our staff and community. Gabby has left a hole in our business and our lives, that can never be replaced. Gabby often said that Bitton was his happy place, but ironically today it is the saddest place without him!
To our staff it is going to be a long, hard road ahead without our “machine” but, our machine has broken down, and he wouldn’t want us to be sad, he would want us to turn that music up in the kitchen and dance and be happy- OUI CHEF that is what we will try and do. Team, thank you for all your support over this past week, and know that Sohani and I are here for you!
To Gabby’s family I am sincerely sorry that you have to go through such pain. Gabby’s warm nature and caring, generous soul is all because of you. It is going to be extremely hard for you to go on with life without Gabby, but just remember the good times and know that he will always be with you in spirit, he is finally at peace. To mum, Mary, Josephine, Salem and George, I want you to know that Sohani and I will always be here for you. You are our family. Bitton is your home!
To Gabby’s beautiful children, Marlene, Gabrielle and Sebastian, you were the reason your father fought to the end for your wellbeing and you need to know what a great man your father was! Everything he did in his life was for you. He worked hard every day to be able to give you the special things in life, but above all he gave you his time which is the best gift anyone could ask for. We are here for you now and always.
Gabby’s loyalty to me, Sohani and my family was extraordinary, there were many times that he used to come home to my in-laws house to cook for us, he loved to serve and make people happy. Gabby would do anything for Mr and Mrs Singh, Avanti, Mayen and Monet, his open heart, generosity and love he had for us was obvious. He treated my family as his own. It goes without saying that your second family will miss you immensely.
Gabba -Sohani, your black sister as you used to call her, loved and worried about you so much, she was your confidant the person you spoke to right until the end. You used to talk, cry, get angry and laugh together every week, she is heartbroken, you will always remain in a special place in her heart!
Gabby was not his true self these past 3 years the stress that was put upon him was simply too much to handle. We saw him going from the “spectacular” gabby to the angry, disheartened broken gabby. The system let him down!! People let him down!! Mum, Sohani and I tried everything in our power to help in our own way, but the pain and anger was embedded in him. I am sorry that we couldn’t do more!
But today we want to celebrate the awesome Gabby, the Gabby that we all know and love, the person that loved his music, loved to dance on the podiums in Jackson on George, the man that used to push food in our mouths whether we were hungry or not, the man that had a love for the stock market, playing cards with his family, hubbly bubbly, his collection of red wine. The man that when he saw a bargain he would buy 1 in every size and colour, there was many times that Gaby used to come to work with a bagful of socks, picture frames, sunglasses, perfume- one for every staff member!
There are too many memories to share and too many tears to shed, but for now we want to remember our Gabba Gabs -smell his scent of his over powering aftershave, taste his sticky date pudding and cheers to his life with a glass of Shiraz. Gabby- you will live in our hearts forever!
Of recent times Gabby used to send Sohani and I up to 10 quotes daily, so I want to leave you with one that is appropriate for today:
You Cannot Finish the Book of Life
Without Closing It's Chapters
If you want to go on, you have to leave the past
As you turn the pages...
Gabby, my brother, the pages are turned as you journey into your next life, I love you more than you will ever know and I will miss you every single day, but for now you need to finally be free from the stress and pain, go in peace, until we meet again ……..