Chef Spotlight: Vegan Chef, Gaz Oakley Who Collaborates with WAGAMAMA
Gaz Oakley (aka @avantgardevegan) is passionate about vegan cooking. He began to cook in Cardiff, UK, at the age of 15. Inspired to follow a healthier lifestyle, he decided to change his diet and go vegan. Using the techniques he had learned working as a professional chef, he started devising beautiful, innovative vegan dishes. His Instagram and YouTube channel @avantgardenvegan have been phenomenally successful, with his YouTube videos amassing a combined total of over 32 million views. His books Vegan 100 and Vegan Christmas were instant hits worldwide.
Broadwayworld.com had the pleasure of interviewing Gaz Oakley about his career and his collaboration with the popular restaurant, wagamama that serves Asian dishes based on fine Japanese cuisine.
What was your earliest interest in cooking?
I first started cooking with my dad, as soon as I could reach the kitchen counter- about 8 years old. I liked the idea of the creativity and getting involved.
Who were some of your career mentors?
In my early career it was my head chefs. When I first stepped into my first professional kitchen, I felt like a sponge soaking up as much of the expertise in the room as I could. All from the talented people around me, who have continued to inspire.
What culinary styles have influenced your career?
The most influential cuisines were French cooking, that classic style of cooking was what I first learnt when I stepped in the kitchens at 15. As I moved around restaurants, I started learning more fine dining French cooking.
What do you consider the most distinguishing features of your work as a chef?
Obviously, the distinguishing feature of my cooking now, is that I create Vegan food that can be enjoyed by all. I try and make my recipes as hearty and beautiful as traditional food. I have also become known for making meat alternatives, using ancient ingredients, such as wheat gluten. Therefore, a signature dish I would like to mention is the vegan ribs, which we have now made into Sticky Asian 'Ribs', in collaboration with wagamama.
What is your favorite meal or meals?
Oh gosh. I like anything with a bit of spicy to it, if it's a complete dish, a great vegan protein, vibrant vegetables. I am happy.
Tell me a little bit about your restaurant for our readers.
The collaboration with wagamama was a career highlight for me, having loved wagamama since I was 10., when I bought home the cookbook. wagamama truly believed in championing and including plant- based eating into their offering, stating that "Meat free should not mean taste free". This is an ethos that I, to, live by.
wagamama has recently wrapped filming two video in NYC with Chef Gaz Oakley. One is about the his ongoing collaboration with the global restaurant and the the other is Oakley demonstrating how to prepare his wildly popular vegan dish Sticky Asian Vegan 'Ribs'. Check out the YouTube links below!
For more information about wagamama, locations, and menus, please visit: https://www.wagamama.us/.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Gaz Oakley