miami beach, fl
biking, bodysurfing, hiking, kayaking, standup paddleboarding / paddlesurfing, wakeboarding, skateboarding
different sets of fins, camel bak (always good for bike riding) wake skate, skateboarding (no longboards, lol) and a good pair of board shorts
there are few people you’ll meet that will impact you the way gabriel orta can. his down to earth presence and fun loving brotherly banter will instantly make you feel like family. this miami surfer is known for his creative passion for food and beverage and has build a name for himself in the craft cocktail community in miami and internationally. he’s got a number of successful projects under his belt that are much talked about but what is less popularly know is that this passion for craft food and beverage is one that was born from his first love, the love for surfing and skating.
at fifteen, gabe left colombia, headed to miami and into the hospitality industry simply to have all day to catch waves. over twenty years later, although the day to day has morphed a bit, he’s still the same dude, creating delicious eats + drinks and chasing waves all around the world.
check out his Get Profiled Q & A below and discover the foundation of what has molded this man into a great craftsman in and out of the water.
what first sparked your interest in surfing?
growing up, i lived in the mountains in colombia far away from any ocean but always loved the beach. i found a surfer magazine from the 80s and once i saw the waves and lifestyle i knew that i had to learn how to surf. a little while after, i moved to the states and picked up a surfboard. that was it, i was hooked.
no water, no waves. what were you doing before you moved to the states?
it all started with skateboarding back then. there were only ten skaters in the whole city so we got a lot of dirty looks at first but soon, other people started skating and we started competing and getting sponsored by the local skate shops. it was such a fun time to see skating grow to where it is now. it was really the foundation for me getting into surfing. i saw this christian fletcher video and was blown away to see surfing be approached like skating.
so, what’s your story?
well, i told you about my early years skating and surfing. when i first moved to miami the summer of ’93 i got into hospitality because it was easy to work at night and have the rest of the day off to chase waves and skate bowls. i worked a lot through the winters in kitchens and at night clubs and saved money so i could go explore the world in the summers.
when i was eighteen, i helped a friend launch a smoothie company and got to go with lollapalooza and warped on tour. we traveled during the summers and i always brought my skateboard and surfboard and tried to hit every spot i could. after four years of a lot of hard work, mistakes and revelations, i lost everything i worked so hard for and came back to miami. i got onto more of a spiritual path, submerged myself into the world of cocktails as a craft and set a goal to open my own bar with my partner elad zvi, the broken shaker.
i have to say that surfing played part in kicking off my meditation and how to control my mind and state of zen which is a huge part of my life now.
there are a lot of rough and tough moments all the time but we just have to keep pushing and kicking.
who is someone you look up to?
my cousin caro. she’s the first person that got me a surfboard and has always been there for me through all the up and downs in life. living with her and her family in hawaii was a good way to experience the aloha vibe.
what is one of your best memories?
it was the first time i went to the north shore. we paddled into v-land with a heavy local crowd that wasn’t to thrilled that i was there and was paddling like a kook. surfing in florida, the waves were never big enough to fear for your life. i waited two hours to even try to paddle towards a wave. the sunset was coming up and the swell was on the rise when finally one of the locals gave me the green light and told me i had to go for it. i took off and wiped out so hard. i got pounded several times and swallowed more water than i could imagine. even though i was there for hours and didn’t catch one single wave, it was one of the most amazing and terrifying experiences i have had in the water.
what else are you passionate about?
food, the art of cooking and restaurants. i love traveling to remote places and trying their culture and food.
owning and managing your own bars and beverage management company, it must get tough staying focused on making time to get in the water. what motivates you?
surfing is more like a lifestyle. living in miami we can go months without waves so you have keep your body in shape and mind clear of all the distractions from the miami life. plus, living very close to latin america and the caribbean, it makes it easy to travel here which makes me stay in shape for when surf trips arrive.
mahalo brother. we’ll see you soon out in the line up. until next time…
Stranded on Land