Gaz Oakley is a classically trained chef, author and YouTuber originally from Cardiff, Wales.
Plants Only KitchenGaz OakleyFor Oakley, cooking became a passion at an early age, learning the basics from his father, Doug. He was also enthusiastic about sport and played rugby, football and swam to a very high standard throughout his school years.
“Rugby was my earliest passion, I wanted to play professionally for my country. However, when I wasn’t playing sport, I was cooking with my dad, going through the hundreds of recipe books and watching chefs on TV. I found cooking was an amazing outlet for my creativity. I didn’t enjoy school, particularly subjects like maths and English. I was much better suited to classes like art, P.E. and Food Technology.”
With the ambition to be the youngest chef in the country with a Michelin star, Oakley took his first part-time job at age 15 at a local hotel restaurant. At 16, he left school to work there full time:
“Leaving school at 16 was tough, but I was so determined. I worked long hours; my school friends were shocked. I was like a sponge, soaking up as much knowledge as I could. It was a great place to learn. After a year or so working at the hotel, I was often left to run the restaurant myself – it was an amazing feeling.”
Oakley enjoyed his next few years learning his craft at some of the best restaurants in Cardiff, but his passion for sport took him in a different direction. In 2016, in order to get back into rugby, Oakley took up weight training. Knowing he needed to ‘bulk up,’ he increased his daily calorie intake to include high volumes of animal protein, but he soon discovered that this made him feel unwell:
“I had this annoying stomach pain, and it was occurring at a time when I had started to notice more information about veganism popping up on my social media feeds. I saw a few things that planted seeds in my head. One day my favorite musician Jme was on the radio talking about what made him go vegan and he mentioned the Gary Yourofsky YouTube video, which I decided to watch. I was simply blown away – Gary Yourofsky gave me this awakening. He talks articulately about the cruelty that is happening every single day to the animals on farms and in abattoirs around the world, the devastation that animal agriculture has on our planet, and the damage eating animal products has on our bodies. From that day on I knew I would be vegan for the rest of my life.”
Wondering what to eat, Gaz instantly went into his kitchen and started experimenting.
“I remember eating my first vegan meal, it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders, no longer would I be part of the cruelty towards animals. It tasted so fresh, vibrant and flavorsome. After weeks of experimenting my passion for cooking was back!”
Oakley was moved to action, determined to spread the word, first by trying to persuade his friends and colleagues to go vegan. He found his words and new beliefs, however, fell on deaf ears, so in order to lead by example, he invited a group of friends to join him for dinner – vegan burgers.
Vegan 100Gaz Oakley“They were blown away - they didn’t believe they were vegan. From that moment on, I knew that I had to use my cooking skills as my way of promoting veganism.”
Over the following five years, Oakley went on to launch his brand, ‘Avant-Garde Vegan by Gaz Oakley,’ which commands an audience of over two million people. His has become an Instagram phenomenon (@avantgardevegan) and his YouTube cooking show has had over 53 million views: https://youtu.be/7yn3QAC3KCs.
Oakley has ambitions to open his own restaurant in the near future but, in the meantime, he has been busy collaborating with popular UK restaurants including the Pan Asian British food chain, Wagamama. There he created three dishes, one topped with a groundbreaking ‘Vegan Egg’, made with miso-infused coconut and Sriracha mayo.
Oakley is also the author of popular cookbooks, ‘Vegan 100’, ‘Vegan Christmas’ and ‘Plants Only Kitchen.’ Find them and a plethora of delicious recipes on his website: www.avantgardevegan.com.
Page created on 10/5/2021 2:34:01 PM
Last edited 10/5/2021 3:13:05 PM