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