Meet alumnus Graham Hage, proud owner and Executive Chef of Zazu Gastropub in Opelika, AL!
Who are you?
Name Graham Hage
Hometown Fulshear, TX
Current City Opelika, AL
Course of Study Culinary Arts
Year of Graduation 2003
Never stop learning and bettering yourself!
What is your story?
From high school, I worked in restaurants. I went to Auburn University in 1995, graduated in 2001 in International Business. I chose CIL because of the program they offered and the proximity of where I was living. After CIL I worked as Exec Chef of Weston Lakes Country Club in Fulshear, TX. I moved back to Auburn where I opened my first restaurant, Zazu Gastropub in 2007. In 2010, I purchased a sports bar in Auburn, made it profitable again and sold it 2.5 yrs later for profit.
In 2015, we moved our restaurant to Opelika, AL in a renovated late 1800’s building. I am the Owner/Exec Chef.
What inspired you to become a chef?
My mother. I always loved cooking and learning from her.
How would you describe the impact of your courses at CIL on your life?
I had worked in restaurants for several years prior to attending CIL, but it gave me some of the fundamentals that I was lacking at the time.
What is the best memory you keep from the school?
Learning from the Chef instructors.
What are your next projects?
Continue to grow my restaurant and possibly open a boutique sandwich and butcher shop.
Any words of wisdom for our current and future students who dream of a success story like yours?
Work hard, but take the time to enjoy yourself and travel. Learn about as many different cuisines as possible. Set a goal and stay on track to meet that goal.
About Zazu Gastropub
The restaurant is a stunning, five-level restaurant striking in character with sandy old bricks, wide-plank flooring, flickering gas lanterns and repurposed wooden beams from the Old Mill in Opelika.
Vegetables are fresh from the Opelika Grows community garden down the street. The restaurant cures its own bacon and makes sausages in-house.
The restaurant offers a separate menu for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch that will change seasonally.
If you’re passing by Opelika, make sure to stop there!