New Zealand entrepreneur receives top award for faithful creativity
A self-trained chef who is now a bestselling New Zealand author is the recipient of the Manifest Creative Arts Festival’s most prestigious award this year.
Jeremy Dixon will receive the Gabe Reynaud Award during a ceremony on Saturday also named in honour of the pioneering Seventh-day Adventist filmmaker. The award recognises excellence in faithful creativity.
Dixon’s journey as a faithful creative began when he quit his job to start a vegetarian cafe in central Auckland. The entrepreneur is now the publisher of four cookbooks that have sold 110,000 copies in just three years.
Creativity comes as a result of consistently doing something that will enable that creativity.Jeremy Dixon, 2015 Gabe Reynaud Award recipient
“Suddenly people want to talk to you,” says Dixon, “and that’s given me a great opportunity to share the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s health message.”
Dixon established the first of his two Revive Cafes in 2005. He knows the business intimately having worked at various time as cook and chef and in front-of-house. “I’ve done it all.”
He learned to cook to impress his girlfriend Verity, who later became his wife. “I considered going to chef school, but I found that most of the time I’d be cooking a lot of meat, unhealthy pastries and desserts, matching wines and making great-tasting unhealthy food. So I decided not to.”
Instead, Dixon spent six years learning how to work in the hospitality industry and experimenting with hundreds of dishes. This experience laid the foundation for his success as a restaurateur and as an author and photographer—Dixon illustrates every recipe in his books. “I finally had the information and the creativity to publish a cookbook.”
The popularity of the Revive Cafe Cookbooks has surprised Dixon. “When I ordered my first print run of 4000 books, I thought I might have them sitting in my garage for the next 20 years. But I’ve realised people want to eat healthier but often find it difficult or expensive—and my books show people new recipes using easy-to-find whole foods.”
Dixon creates these new recipes by taking an existing “unhealthy” recipe and substituting whole-food ingredients to make a healthy recipe. “Or I often just start with three random ingredients from my fridge or pantry and think, How can I make this into a meal? There are often failures, but now I have a feel for what ingredients go together, I can usually make something delicious.”
That confidence comes in part from Dixon’s faith. “God hasn’t just blessed my business by handing out success; He’s blessed it by giving me guidance and wisdom and pushing me through the difficult times.”
His advice to other faithful creatives: be persistent. “Creativity comes as a result of consistently doing something that will enable that creativity.”