OTTAWA – The Ottawa Mission has launched a new social enterprise to serve healthy meals while training future workers.
‘Chef Ric’s’ is now open on Rideau Street in the former Rideau Bakery home.
The facility is the new home of the Ottawa Mission’s food service training program and a dream come true for chef Ric Allen Watson.
“I remember the day the old Rideau bakery closed. I walked over with my partner and said, “Wouldn’t that be a great place? said Chef Ric, director of food services at the Ottawa Mission. “It was just the dream, and that dream came true.”
The store offers healthy and affordable meals and will serve as a new space for the expanded training program.
“There is nothing more satisfying than seeing a student go through the program, graduate, then start their job and their whole life has changed. “
“I grew up in abuse, I cooked, I cooked a lot, you know my hands in the dish, it was therapy,” explained Erica La France, student of the program.
Like her, the students all have their own difficult histories and are preparing to work in commercial kitchens thanks to the FSTP.
“Once I heard about Chef Ric’s, I knew this was the learning niche I needed,” said La France. “It was a safe place, a sense of community and people who understand.”
Since 2004, 190 people have graduated from FSTP with a 90 percent pass rate, which means they have worked in the restaurant industry.
“This is the future of social enterprise and this is the future of employment opportunities,” said Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson. “We know that after the pandemic there is an acute shortage of people needed to work in the hotel and restaurant industry.”
“Chef Ric’s” will also develop the mission’s growing restaurant business, all of the profits from which will be donated to the FSTP. It will also be the new home for the Mobile Mission Meals food truck program, which has served more than 120,000 meals since its launch a year ago.
The new space for the project is funded with a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and with assistance from Manor Park Management, which has offered the space for a lease of only $ 10 per year.
“This is how you end homelessness,” said Peter Tilley, CEO of the Ottawa Mission. “This is how you get 60 to 70 people a year jobs so they can support themselves, maybe even without rent subsidies so they can live interdependently.”
So this state-of-the-art food store and training center is now a new home for passionate students like La France who are determined to succeed.
“I am now in control of my own life, and this program puts me in charge of the trauma and abuse I have suffered,” said La France.