Chef Jay Barnard, also known as Chef Recovery, is the guest speaker at The Salvation Army Hope in The City Leadership Luncheon at the Shaw Centre in Ottawa on November 21st, 2018. Jay Barnard will share his story of hope and change thanks to support from The Salvation Army.
From the time he was 12 years old Jay was drinking and doing drugs. As a young adult Jay spent some time in prison for a number of offences.
He hit rock bottom in 2005 when he attempted to take his own life. He knew it was time for a change.
“I didn’t know what change was, it was really scary,” said Jay.
The transition to becoming a chef began after completing his grade 12 and entering a cooking program at a college in Kenora, Ontario.
During this time, Jay was working at the Best Western Hotel but had not yet given up his addiction. Someone at the college recommended The Salvation Army’s Anchorage Addiction program in Ottawa which he started in February 2008.
That year he also entered Algonquin College’s Apprenticeship chef program.
The Salvation Army is a community. The staff was always reaching out to me and was always there for me,” said Jay. “Nick, one of the chaplains at the time, helped me a lot. He told me good things can happen for me but I had to take ownership and responsibility for myself first.”
Jay also agreed to attend church services at Ottawa Booth Centre.
“I was the guy that hated that stuff in the beginning,” said Jay. “But it really helped me figure out who I was as well as the classes and the meetings. Nick helped me through a lot of things and now I can say the word God and talk about God.”
In the following years Jay worked as a chef at a number of large Ottawa Hotel chains before landing a position in 2012 with Compus Group Canada which owned Impressions Canada Catering in Fort McMurray. He worked his way up to Executive Chef and started to make a name for himself.
“We had a lot of celebrities coming to us,” said Jay. “Fort McMurray leaned on me as a chef.”
In 2015 Jay started his own business called Chef Recovery Catering, along with his own food line called Freshwater Cuisine in Kenora. Working in partnership with over 45 independent First Nations fishermen, Freshwater Cuisine is now the largest operating fish processing facility in Northwestern Ontario.
Jay has enjoyed cooking his entire life.
“My Grandma taught me to cook,” said Jay Barnard. “My first memory of being in the kitchen is when my grandma taught me to make pickles. I remember thinking wow that’s so cool you can turn cucumbers into pickles.”
Jay says his two daughters and his business keep him going every day.
“I am most proud that I can give myself a chance to love who I am and work on myself one day at a time, said Jay. “I feel very proud that I can share my story and help other people by talking about how The Salvation Army helped me and helped others. It feels good.”
Jay celebrated 10 years of sobriety in February 2018. He will be telling his story at The Hope in The City Leadership Luncheon. To reserve your table at this inspirational event visit www.HopeInTheCityOttawa.com or call 613-233-8428 x. 221.