Meet Jade Gray. He’s the Kiwi whose professional journey traverses meat-centric roles to now championing sustainable plant-based proteins. His latest venture? Off-Piste Provisions. Jade's journey into the world of sustainable food production wasn't a planned venture but a serendipitous series of career leaps.
It all began following his graduation in Chinese and marketing, landing him an unexpected opportunity to manage an Angus cattle farm in northeast China for a New Zealand-based joint venture. His expertise in beef management expanded further when he managed four butcheries across China, eventually becoming the Project Manager for a processing plant, albeit a taxing and disheartening experience. “It was the most depressing job of my career,” he recalls.
However, Jade's narrative took a significant turn when Gung Ho! Pizza, which he founded in 2010 in Beijing, obtained B-Corp certification, the first F&B joint to do so in China. During this process, his awareness of the impact of food choices on carbon footprints heightened, paving the way for his foray into the plant-based world. This realisation spurred him to explore alternative proteins, leading to the inception of Off-Piste Provisions in New Zealand in 2020, coincidentally launched during the global pandemic.
Jade's current mission centers on pioneering sustainable protein production to feed the growing global population, all 9 billion people, while transforming agricultural sectors without disrupting them, emphasising a seamless transition for farmers towards sustainable practices.
While not strictly vegan or vegetarian, Jade consciously leans towards the most sustainable food choices available. “I enjoy meat,” he says. ”But I just generally choose not to eat it because of its environmental impact.”
Jade's brainchild, Off-Piste Provisions' Plant-Based Toppers (available in MyTreat's February 2024 Wellness Box), stemmed from a personal need. "This idea emerged as a way to enhance the protein content, texture, and flavour in vegetarian meals," he explains. As someone who now follows a primarily vegetarian diet, Jade seeks diversity beyond the usual salad or legumes. The toppers, imbued with protein and convenience, add a punch to meals without the hassles of cooking or refrigeration. Just sprinkle them on your meal or have them as is if you need a protein boost. Jade’s other snacking preference swings between Off-Piste Provisions Plant-Based Pork Crackling, hummus with carrots, and Bennetto vegan chocolate.
Asked if he has plans for Valentine’s Day, he answers, “I don't buy into the commercial side of it but my partner and I have plenty of date nights in the pipeline and our go-to is definitely taking the electric motorbike out and visiting the wineries on Waiheke.”
For Jade, self-love revolves around self-compassion and nurturing good morning routines. "I've learned not to be too hard on myself," he notes, emphasising the significance of nurturing oneself before extending care to others or businesses.