Max Gorvel, superfood extraordinaire

You are what you eat. If you eat dirty Macca's you'll wake up sweating fat. If you eat healthy, you'll wake up looking and feeling so fresh ... and your libido will be back ...

If you’ve ever been to Grocer and Grind or its new sister venue NXT Door (it’s right next door), then you would know the face of Maxime Gorvel. From hereon in, we’ll call him Max. Born in Paris, Max has worked under some of the world’s biggest names in food, including Gordon Ramsay, before moving to our sunny shores just a few years ago. He’s gone from heading up a michelin star restaurant in London to being the face and driving force of two of the Gold Coast’s most popular establishments. Behind his infectious smile and glorious French accent is a passionate, talented man trying to get the world to open their eyes and discover the power of food.We sat down with Max for a chat about where it all began, how superfoods changed his life and the perfect healthy cocktail.

Let’s take it back a bit. How tell us how you first got into the hospitality industry?
I was born in Paris, and studied at one of France’s best hospitality schools for six years. My specialty was wine and service. After that I went to work in England (to learn English, my English was terrible). I spent one year in Manchester and worked for amazing chefs, then I went to London when Gordon Ramsay hired me to open the Savoy Grill in Trafalgar Square, which is a Michelin starred, fine-dining restaurant. I then went back to Paris and opened my own retail wine cellar, which I eventually sold and decided to come to Australia. I fell in love with the country.

Where does your passion lie – in the kitchen or on the floor?
Well, I was a chef for the first year out of hospitality school, which was amazing, but then I discovered the restaurant ‘floor’ by pure mistake. I realised that I liked the contact with the customers so much more than the contact with food.

How did you find the transition from Paris to the Gold Coast?
In Paris, the market is so saturated, because it’s a county of food and good cuisine, and I could never see myself opening a place there. When you’re young over there, you don’t have that much opportunity. In Australia though, the young people are so dynamic and full of energy, you can do whatever you want here. It’s like the Australia dream, you know – ‘if you want it, you can do it’. However, when I first got the job at Grocer and Grind, I honestly felt like it was a step back at the beginning – because I went from working for Gordon Ramsay in a fine-dining restaurant, then going into a local cafe. So, to start with I was like ‘what the HELL am I doing here?’, and then I fell in love with the venue, the food, the superfoods, everything. And I also discovered coffee. The Australian coffee culture is so huge compared to Europe. I learned so much here about food and I really increased my knowledge, which I am very grateful for.

Was healthy food a big part of your life growing up?
No. Not at all. I used to eat that dirty powdered mashed potato and processed hams, I had terrible food education. I was eating Macca’s and kebabs and drinking Coke. I was eating very, very badly. I had to educate myself.

How has food changed you?
I was blindfolded before I came to Australia. When I arrived, it was a massive slap in the face. My lifestyle was so far from where it should have been. It’s funny, because now I still cook for myself the ‘quick’ way, but now I do it super quick and super healthy. I can feel really it though– my health has improved so much over the last few years. In Australia we have heaps of organic produce and food, which is great. But really, what we call ‘organic food’ now is actually just the same ‘food’ that our grandparents ate.

Grocer and Grind and NXT Door are heavily focussed on healthy eating and superfoods – do you find it difficult to educate people on this style of eating?
With both Grocer and Grind and NXT Door, we’re continually to educating ourselves – that’s how we conceptualise our menus. But, it’s hard to educate other people. You need to be genuine, so I guess I don’t really see it as ‘educating’, because it’s a tricky word. So I prefer to help people ‘discover’, to open their eyes and their minds. That’s what we try to do. I like to think that we’ve opened so many minds here at Grocer and Grind and NXT Door. 

How did the concept for NXT Door, a superfood cocktail bar, first come about?
At first, we thought – how can we open a bar so people can have good food and a good time, and keep it healthy? It seemed almost impossible. But, we worked for six months on a cocktail list that had a really low calorie content, using superfood products like activated charcoal, turmeric, coconut water, chia seeds, cucumber and acai. We tried to minimise the sugar content as well, so we created our own stevia syrup, which allows us to get the perfect balance of strong, sour and sweet. It’s just a perfect combination of low sugar, low carb, low calorie superfood ingredients – and it makes people feel great.

Given your background in wine, how do you view the move toward organic, natural wines?
People think of organic wine like a new gadget at the moment, but it’s really the future. At NXT Door, our wine list is almost 100 per cent organic, sustainable and bio-dynamic. Australian’s are more aware of their health now, and organic wines are getting bigger and bigger. In France, not so much – it’s still very much about food, like cheese and butter, and there are chemicals in the wine. But, the organic wine is starting to get bigger over there, which is interesting, and organic produce is getting cheaper over there too.

What do you think the next superfood trend is?
I think the future is organic. People don’t want cheap, nasty food. I think one day everything will be organic again, like it used to be. In terms of trends, there is always something new coming from nowhere. Most of the products becoming trendy now are things that have been around for thousands of years, so nothing is really ‘new’. It’s like acai, when it took one person to see the benefit of a product and create a commercial road for it. That’s how things become a trend – it’s a beautiful thing though.

What would you tell someone who hasn’t discovered the ‘power of food’?
You are what you eat. If you eat shit, you’ll feel like a piece of shit! It’s true, if you eat dirty Macca’s you’ll wake up sweating fat. If you eat healthy, you’ll wake up looking and feeling so fresh, and, whilst it’s funny to talk about – your libido will be back! People work so much and get so stressed, they come home to their partner and are too tired for anything … but honestly,  if you get superfoods into you, like say maca in your morning smoothies, then BANG, you could be having a kid in nine months! haha. That’s the power of food.



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