Gaz Oakley is a 27 year old chef, author & youtuber originally from Cardiff, Wales UK.
After learning to cook a very young age with his dad, Doug. Cooking as well as sports became his early passions. He played rugby, football, did athletics & swam to a very high standard throughout school.
Where it all began
“Rugby was my earliest passion, I wanted to play professionally for my country. However when I wasn’t playing sport at home I was cooking with my dad, going through the hundreds of recipe books & watching chefs on TV. I found cooking was an amazing outlet for my creativity.
I struggled in school, particularly with maths & English. I was much better suited in classes like art & P.E where I could be creative. When I could choose a specialist subject at GCSE I decided to take cooking.
The teachers knew I had been cooking a while at home. I was bringing along my pasta machine from home and making fresh pasta, ravioli & tortellini the lot..whilst my class mates were either messing around or struggling to make a ragu – it was fun being a top student for a change.”
Gaz, wanting to learn even more got his first part time chef’s job age just 15 years old at a local hotel restaurant. He had a goal to be the youngest chef in the country with a Michelin star.
At 16 shortly after completing his GCSE’s, Gaz left school to go full time at the hotel restaurant.
He recalls thriving in the kitchens, learning so much from the chefs around him & working lots of hours.
“Leaving school at 16 was tough, but I was so determined, I remember getting a scooter and travelling back and forth to the restaurant ever day. I worked long hours, my friends who I didn’t see much any more were shocked.
I was like a sponge, soaking up as much knowledge as I could from all the chefs around me. 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”
After a few years at the hotel he decided it was time for a new challenge. One day he turned up at a renowned Cardiff restaurant called Le Gallois, it had big plans & was run be a hugely experienced chef.
Gaz plucked up the courage to knock on the door of Le Gallois and simply tell the head chef his goals in cooking & how he would work for free to show him what skills he had.
The head chef agreed & Gaz worked a weekend for free. A week or so later Gaz was given a job at Le Gallois.
In the evenings after work – I started weight training and wanted to bulk up, so was eating masses of food – a traditional body builders diet. Little did I know this was later going to turn me vegan”
Gaz worked out for a couple years whilst eating this colossal diet & put on a lot of weight. However he didn’t feel to good. He put it down to the high amounts of animal protein he was eating & starting looking into veganism.
“I had this annoying stomach pain & it was occurring at a time when I noticed more & more information about veganism popping up on my social media feeds. I saw a few things that really planted a seed in my head.
One day my favourite musician Jme was on the radio talking about what made him go vegan, he mentioned one youtube video that he watched which made him make the change overnight. It was a speech by Gary Yourofsky”
BECOMING VEGAN –
From the small amounts he’d seen on social media, Gaz started feeling guilty every time he was eating meat or dairy, he recalls one day simply having enough & deciding to sit down & watch the Gary Yourofsky speech.
“I was simply blown away – Gary Yourofsky gave me this awakening. He so articulately talks about the cruelty that is happening every single day to the animals on farms & in abattoirs around the world, the devastation that animal agriculture has on our planet & 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 be lifted off my shoulders, no longer would I be part of the cruelty towards animals again. It tasted so fresh, vibrant & flavoursome.
After weeks of experimenting my passion for cooking was back!
I found the skills I’d learn as a kid and whilst in the professional kitchens enabled me to create the most incredible vegan food.
My mum & dad who I must thank for supporting me so much over the years, also decided to go vegan shortly after me. It was incredible”
Gaz wanting to do his bit of activism, started trying to persuade his friends & colleagues to go vegan.
“I tried saying things that Gary Yourofsky did in his speech, but it just wouldn’t come out the same way, I’ve never been that great at talking & I found my peers would put up a ‘brick wall’ and not take any of it in.
One day I came up with a new idea to turn people on to the idea of veganism. I invited a group of friends over & made them the most amazing vegan burgers ever.
They were blown away, they didn’t believe they were vegan & all said they didn’t miss meat at all.
From that moment on, I knew that I had to use my cooking skills as my way of promoting veganism”
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