Meet the Chef: Max Gordy, Graze Wine Bar

Chicago-born skater to chef and restaurant owner, Max Gordy, is taking a sustainable approach in a no-waste menu that prioritises New Zealand produce. 

As a 15-year-old, Gordy started off waiting tables at a local restaurant in Eastbourne, he was inspired by how passionate the chefs were and eventually worked his way up the ladder at various restaurants around Wellington. 

When I first started out, I didn't take cooking too seriously, I partied hard and raced skateboards down hills," explained Gordy.

“I lived a life outside of hospitality for a long time and always viewed cooking as a job.”

After a few skateboard injuries, Gordy started to take his role in hospitality more seriously, rather than going all in like other passionate young chefs and having a distorted view of the pressure of the food industry, he took his time and didn’t pressure himself into immediate success. 

“My advice would be to live a life outside work, take it slow, and enjoy the ride.”

Gordy has co-opened his Graze Wine Bar with his partner Stina in Kelburn. He took the innovation of resisting food waste and instead evolved it into the menu, such as a butterfish and paua sausage, utilising butterfish intestines as the casing and flavouring the filling with paua fish sauce from its livers and tongues. 

The pressures of climate and global supply issues additionally motivate Gordy’s ethical stance on his menu, to be local being chief among the list. 

“If everyone makes a difference by eating local organically grown produce, this will help local farmers expand and become more resilient when global markets start to go crazy. I feel New Zealand has a unique pocket of the planet with enough land and coastlines to help us all live healthy lives.”

His cuisine goal to be zero waste is a factor that Gordy would like to continue with permanence, and he has adopted new ideas and recipes that he eventually would like to pursue into a cookbook of how Graze came to be and its annual seasonal menu. 

“Getting our flour milled fresh each week and having our fish spear caught and brought to our door by the fisher not only produces a far superior product, but many of our guests see value in that."