Isabel Gloss, born in the Midwest but raised around the world, is a photographer and visual artist working in Minneapolis. Her interest in photography stems from the time her father, a scientist and artist, first showed her how to use a 35mm camera as a child. She sources her Mexican heritage, gender and sexuality to create her work focusing on social equality and justice. As a Chicana woman in her early 20s who has felt the effects of inequality and prejudice, her focus is on the importance of bringing marginalized people to the front and revising stereotypes. When photographing portraits, Isabel makes sure that her subjects are projected in a powerful and celebratory light. As a student at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, she achieved many awards and grants, such as the Hearst Merit Scholarship, the MCAD Presidential Correspondence Award, and the Morrison Leadership Scholarship. Her work has been featured in Baltimore Magazine as well as several group exhibitions such as Endless Anagrams and You’ve Never Made a Real Piece of Art. Gloss specializes in digital, medium-format and large-format film photography.
Gloss is featuring Latine back-of-house workers. They are the ones who work in food prep, line cooking, dishwashing, etc. She wants to make sure they know that they are seen and their hard work is appreciated. They need to know that other people recognize their determination and dedication. It’s the People is the perfect opportunity to make them feel honored and applauded.
Meet the subjects
Rafeala Lemus first worked for D’Amico restaurants at Masa on Nicollet Ave. Masa was a high-end Mexican cantina. When Masa closed, Rafa was offered a Chef 1 position at The Bistro, D’Amico’s lunch restaurant in International Market Square. This restaurant caters to high-end interior designers and their clientele. Rafa is a unique back-of-house Latina — most Latinas end up working in the dish pit or doing prep work. Rafa’s exceptional cooking skills led to her being a Chef 1, which is the head chef on the (cooking) line. Eventually, Rafa was able to hire and train her son, Luis. Currently, the two of them make up The Bistro’s entire back-of-house staff. Rafa’s chicken tinga tacos are so popular they were adopted into the D’Amico Catering menu and quickly became one of the most popular butler passed hors d’oeuvres. When Rafa travels to Mexico to visit her family, The Bistro clientele complain about the tacos. D’Amico finally took Taco Tuesdays off the menu when Rafa is on vacation.
Angelo Bracero is the server’s assistant, and Marco Leon Gil is making his way to becoming the sous chef. Both are back-of-house workers at Fhima’s restaurant in downtown Minneapolis at 40 S 7th Street.
These portraits highlight and celebrate the dedicated restaurant back-of-house Latine workers of the Hennepin Theatre District. You may pass by them on the street or thank them when they bring you your food, and you may not pay them any other attention than that, but they are the ones that help make the Hennepin Theatre District so lively and joyful.