Kathy Jaeger

Occupation: Chef at the Hungry Heart Cafe, which opened its doors to the public on April 30th

Bio: Kathy has one of the only restaurant jobs on earth that actually contributes to the mental health and well-being of its workers. Born and raised in Cambridge Ontario, she studied history at the University of Toronto, paying expenses by working in the kitchen at her brother’s restaurant. Cooking usurped history as her passion and she went to school to become a certified chef. She wound up in North Bay, working her way through restaurants, until opening up her own bistro in 2001. Life and love compelled her to relocate to Ottawa and one January night, while still trying to recover from leaving her business, she saw a Tourism Newfoundland ad on TV. After many discussions and much packing, Kathy and her partner moved to St. John’s that August. Kathy did the usual cook thing until one morning her partner showed her a job ad in the paper. “Looking for a chef with a big heart” it said. Kathy knew that this was her job. Sure enough, within mere days, she was helping set up the Hungry Heart Cafe, run by the Stella Burry Centre, a social initiative which trains and employs folks using the Stella Burry Centre’s services so that they may become gainfully employed in the food service industry.

The Hungry Heart is an amazing initiative. How does it feel to be a part of it?: “It’s truly rewarding. I never dreamed that I’d be able to cook and teach and really get off on it. It’s completely gratifying. My staff is composed primarily of participants from the program who have never held a job in their lives. They come from all sorts of backgrounds—homeless, mentally ill, you name it. But by the time they get to me, most of these obstacles have been removed for them and they are ready and willing to learn and work.”

Favorite band when she was a teenager: “Oh, Styx. Styx and the Guess Who.”

Words of wisdom:
“Cook your onions more and your garlic less.”

­ ­— Sarah Smellie

97 comments

  1. Andrea Roberts · November 18, 2011

    You rock !!!!
    A proud friend moment too……………

  2. Brenda Renwick · November 18, 2011

    Wait a go Kath!!!! I think we just may have to come to Newfoundland just to try this place out!!!!!!!!!! You’ve sure come along way from a la Beckers!!!! lyg B

  3. Denise · November 18, 2011

    Way to go sis! Keep up the good work! D.

  4. al · November 18, 2011

    On a recent quick getaway trip to St. John’s (those ads do work) landed up at the Hungry Heart cafe for lunch (unknowingly without reservations). We were lucky enough to get a seat, and had a fantastic lunch with great service. Only a month into their venture, if things keep up, I think many more will travel just to have the chance to take in Kathy’s cuisine.

  5. Barb Pardy · November 18, 2011

    This is sooooo amazing Kathy, I am so proud of you! Keep up the great work in doing what you’ve always done best……touching others hearts and lives!!!
    xo

  6. Dreae · November 18, 2011

    OMG I just had lunch at the Hungry Heart for the first time and it was wonderful! I’m a total cranky-pants who only likes about 4 restaurants in town, and I’m awfully hard to impress, but I fell in love with the Hungry Heart the second I walked in. Beautiful airy space, nice tables and REAL CLOTH NAPKINS, people. Swoony swoon. And the food was brilliant. Normally I stare at a restaurant menu and try to find something in it that I actually want to eat, muttering, “if I wanted a (fill-in-the-blank), I would have stayed at home, grumble grumble.” This time, it all looked so good that I actually had a hard time choosing. I went with one of the specials, a light, fruity, summery Thai-spiced chicken salad, and it was delicious. I regret not having had room for dessert; all the cakes looked magical. It’s okay, though. I’ll go back.

    Kathy Jaeger, you’re great! Congratulations to you and everybody at the Hungry Heart.

  7. Andrea Puscher · November 18, 2011

    Way to Go Kathy!
    You have always had a big heart and it is no surprise you have found the “recipe” to combine talent, altruism and empathy for your community into a great business venture! Can’t wait to visit!!!
    Kudos to you my friend!
    Hugs Andrea

  8. heidi migneault · November 18, 2011

    holy moly, i have found you!
    us migneault’s are still in saskatchewan.
    sounds like congrats are in order, man , you never stop getting better do you?!!
    hope your well,
    your prairie friend
    heidi

  9. Lydia Peever · November 18, 2011

    I was missing Jeagermeisters today, and found this article! Secretly hoping you were still in Ottawa, but great to see this post! You are an amazing chef, Kathy~

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