The Ottawa Mission's director of food services says community engagement is exceeding expectations at the new Chef Ric's location, and he's excited for this year's culinary students.
The mission took over the former Rideau Bakery site to allow Chef Ric Allen-Watson's Food Services Training Program to accommodate more students while also increasing kitchen capacity to serve more members of the community. Last spring saw 10 graduates.
"We'll [now] be able to graduate up to 75 students a year," the chef tells CityNews' The Rob Snow Show, Thursday, September 9. "We've also added on a retail component, so at the front of the bakery we prepare 400 meals every day to take in our food truck to low-income communities in Ottawa."
The mission's program is unique in that its classes are made up of applicants who are often looking to make positive changes to their lives.
"You meet all sorts of different people and people that just need some help," explains Chef Ric. "And once you give them a little bit of help or encouragement, they're off and running and doing their own thing. And many of them come back and want to volunteer and help others."
And the more people that come to eat at Chef Ric's, the better the experience for his students. He says the community is really taking to the Rideau Bakery location.
"It's been unbelievable. People have a great reaction to it and want to work with us on it. So when people come in and order their breakfast or lunch, it's phenomenal."
The mission's Food Services Training Program typically sees a 90 per cent employment success rate.
Listen to Chef Ric's Thursday, September 9, 2021, appearance on The Rob Snow Show: