May 26, 2022

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Do It With Food

Norwell’s Abby Gray placed 13th in global competition

Name: Abby Gray

Hometown: Norwell

In the news: Gray placed 13th in the quarterfinals of a global favorite chef competition.

Now you know: Gray worked as a legislative aide on Capitol Hill before pursuing her passion as a private chef.

Her story: Abby Gray has always loved cooking. 

Growing up, her entire family would gather weekly for Sunday dinner and she would be in the kitchen assisting her grandmother and mother. She opened a catering side business with her sister while still in high school.

But in the 1980s, when Gray graduated from high school, culinary school and the culinary world wasn’t a place for young women, she said. 

“Back in the day, it was a much different scene with women going to culinary school and women in the food scene,” Gray said. “The culinary world in the 1980s had a lot of drugs and was very cutthroat. Culinary school at that time was just not on my radar, and I think it’s because it wasn’t really promoted as a career for women and you kind of had to figure out how to get in. It was really a different time.”

But while Gray was legislative aide on Capitol Hill, as a director of seminars for political magazine, Campaigns & Elections, and a sales manager for a newspaper, she still pursued her passion with small catering jobs for friends and business associates.

Chef Abby Gray of Norwell in her kitchen.

In 2008, Gray opened European-inspired gift boutique, Olivia Browning in Charlestown, which sold gourmet food and and resembled a French market. Soon after Gray opened the business, the Great Recession hit and for seven years she tried to keep the boutique afloat.

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“I still really wanted to be in food, so I finally said to my husband, ‘Why don’t I just go to culinary school?’ And we made it happen,” Gray said.