Harvey Golden knows how to run a kitchen—and has the title to prove it. The American Culinary Federation’s Cincinnati chapter recently recognized him as the “Chef of the Year” for his culinary skills and impressive volunteer work.
When he’s not in the kitchen, Golden—owner and executive chef of MPG Events and Catering, and Gravy Comfort Cooking—is fulfilling his duties as chair for the ACF Chef and Child Foundation, speaking to kids about nutrition or volunteering to help organizations like Little Sisters of the Poor and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Golden’s love of cooking began early in life. Following high school, he earned his culinary degree at the Midwest Culinary Institute. After getting married, though, he decided to get “a real job” working for a Fortune 500 company as an operations team leader. He attended Xavier’s weekend degree program, earning his bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership. But by 2006, he became frustrated with the corporate world. “It was amazing how well-paid some of these people were to be so dysfunctional,” he says, “whereas in the kitchen, you have no choice but to work as a team.”
Golden began cooking up his next career move as a personal chef. To attract clientele, he dressed in his chef coat and frequented grocery stores and elevators in office buildings. “Everyone wants to talk to the chef.”
His tactic worked, and within six months he had enough business to rent a commercial kitchen. Quickly he started catering for corporate events, which required another move. His new catering kitchen just happened to be in a vacant restaurant. Last December, Golden reopened it as Gravy in nearby Goshen, Ohio, which serves Southern-style comfort foods. He describes it as “a Cracker Barrel with a beer and wine license.”
As part of his catering business, Golden also hosts team-building workshops for corporations. With Iron Chef-type exercises and cook-offs, he helps employers and employees break down communication barriers so they can work more collaboratively. “I kept all my team-building activities from Xavier. I guess it pays to be a pack rat.”