A Chef’s Journey to Recovery

Freshwater Cuisine - Chef Jay Barnard
by The Salvation Army in Canada
Categories: Divisional News, Events

By: Caroline Franks

Chef Jay Barnard, also known as Chef Recovery, is the guest speaker at The Salvation Army Hope in The City Breakfast in Barrie at Liberty North on November 14th, 2018 where he will share his story of hope and change.

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.

Jay moved to Barrie in 2004 and quickly hit rock bottom when he attempted to take his own life.  It was then he knew it was time for a change.

“I didn’t know what change was, it was really scary,” said Jay. “Coming back to Barrie to speak at The Hope in The City will be very emotional for me.”

The transition to becoming a chef began after completing his Grade 12 and entering a cooking program at a college in Kenora, Ontario.

Jay also worked 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 and a 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 loved cooking his entire life.

“My Grandma first 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.”

Hope in the City Barrie

Jay is also celebrating 10 years of sobriety in 2018.  He will be telling his story at The Hope in The City Leadership Breakfast about how The Salvation Army changed his life and put him on a path to success.

To reserve your table at this inspirational event visit www.hopeinthecitybarrie.com