Jeremy Dixon quit a promising career in marketing 10 years ago to start a vegetarian cafe in New Zealand.
Today the self-trained chef is the bestselling author of four cookbooks that reflect a healthy Adventist diet.
“Suddenly people want to talk to you, and that’s given me a great opportunity to share the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s health message,” Dixon said.
His four “Revive Cafe Cookbooks” have sold 110,000 copies in just three years.
Dixon was recognized for his success on Saturday, March 21, by being presented with the most prestigious award of the annual Manifest Creative Arts Festival, organized by Adventist Media Network and the Avondale College of Higher Education on behalf of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s South Pacific Division. He received the Gabe Reynaud Award, named after a pioneering Adventist filmmaker, for showing excellence in “faithful creativity.”
Not bad for a marketing executive who once sold healthy breakfast cereals like Weet-Bix for the Adventist-owned Sanitarium Health Food Company in Auckland, New Zealand.
Dixon quit his job to establish the first of his two vegetarian Revive Cafes in downtown Auckland in 2005.
He learned to cook to impress his girlfriend Verity, who later became his wife.
“I considered going to chef school,” he said. “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. He now knows the business intimately, having worked at various times as cook and chef and in front-of-house.
“I’ve done it all,” he said.
The experience laid the foundation for his success as an author and photographer. Dixon illustrates every recipe in his books.
“I finally had the information and the creativity to publish a cookbook,” he said.
The popularity of the cookbooks has surprised Dixon.
“When I ordered my first print run of 4,000 books, I thought I might have them sitting in my garage for the next 20 years,” he said. “But I’ve realized 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 the 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?’” he said. “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 said. "He’s blessed it by giving me guidance and wisdom and pushing me through the difficult times."
His advice to other faithful-creative types: Be persistent.
“Creativity comes as a result of consistently doing something that will enable that creativity,” he said.
Here are two of Jeremy Dixon's favorite recipes from his latest book, "Revive Cafe Cookbook 4":