Gilbert says he’s been cooking as long as he can remember.
“I followed my mom around when I was young cooking,” Gilbert said. “We would make onion grass soup—I was like five and thought it was the coolest thing ever.”
Gilbert says he was forging a path and he didn’t even know it. Next, he went on to cream chipped beef.
Being from the small town of Berlin, Md., Gilbert did what most local kids in the area did growing up—found jobs in local restaurants.
“Marlin Moon was really my first taste of fine dining…it was really cool to be working at that restaurant,” Gilbert said.
After spending his childhood on the Eastern Shore, Gilbert decided he would give California try.
Gilbert went to school out west for a few years and then found himself in Florida. No matter what state he was in, he always found himself in a kitchen.
Next stop, Puerto Rico.
After Puerto Rico, New York.
“I met a chef from New York, outside of the city, and after talking about food he invited me up there to work,” Gilbert said. “I moved up to Long Island, trained under him and worked for him. I learned the base from him; how to make a sauce nice instead of just a sauce, how to ferment different things.”
After New York, Gilbert eventually made it back to his hometown. After floating around from Grove Market in Bishopville, Black Smith in Berlin and lastly, Liquid Assets in Ocean City, Toby landed his current job at a(MUSE.) in Rehoboth Beach, Del.
At a(MUSE.), Gilbert is able to make radish kimchi, turnip sauerkraut and work with seaweed to make miso and dash. He is also able to try his hand at Japanese and Asian cuisine such as kombu and kelp.
Gilbert says he’s loved fermented foods since he was a young boy and he’s especially loved making his own.
“I remember when I was younger getting pickles in my stocking—I always liked pickles,” Gilbert recalls.
Hari Cameron, a(MUSE.) owner, is an innovative, award winning chef. Gilbert says he has been able to learn a lot of new techniques from him.
“He’s shown me a lot modern ways to do things,” Gilbert said. “I’ve taken control of the fermentation game over there… natural vinegars, pickles, miso….”
Although Gilbert has loved the various restaurants he’s worked at, he has decided he wants more out of life than working under other chefs and crazy hours.
“I wanted to move back to my home town, wanted time with my family,” Gilbert began. “I love this but I started to think ‘how can we play with food a different way and still be successful?'”
Gilbert explained he has more fun making individual products now—which is why he is going off on his own.
Gilbert’s Provisions is opening in Berlin before the summer of 2016.
Although the business is still a few months out, the crew is still busy tearing up the floor and sealing the walls, Gilbert can’t wait for the day the doors open on Commerce Street.
The shop will be serving all things fermented, as well as house made soft serve ice cream and domestic artisanal goods. Gilbert says quick charcuterie and cheeses will be made in house, domestic cheeses and charcuterie will be provided from the US’s best creameries and classes and catering will be offered.
The store will be located behind Bruder Hill, helping Berlin in their effort to expand out.
Gilbert’s Provisions should be known as a ‘gourmet grocer,’ according to the new business owner. The shop will also focus on hard goods—furniture that is functionally used in the store but if people want to buy it, they can.
To make this dream a reality, Gilbert has set up a GoFundMe account.
“All money will go to getting my space up to code and turned into a fully functional store with a kitchen.”
“This has been a dream of mine for many years. Being able to serve my home town with the products that I love to make is a life goal. I would be forever greatful to have the ability to share my food and love for food as well as the skills, techniques and knowledge I’ve gained throughout my culinary career to the citizens of my area and further develop our culinary culture.”