Bonnie View Inn’s chef Jay Picard is looking to draw more people to an industry near and dear to his heart with the launch a Haliburton County and Area Hospitality Industry Association.
Picard a certified red chef (Red Seal Interprovincial Program) with 38 years of work experience is passionate about the food and hospitality industry. He is hoping with regular meetings held around the county the newly launched Hospitality Industry Association can bring an opportunity for current and potential employees to come together to share ideas ask questions and find resolutions.
A key element behind these gatherings is to draw new people to the industry.
“I’m hoping through networking we can try and solve the problem. One big issue which I don’t know we can overcome (probably can’t) is housing – lack of housing. It’s very difficult for people to find apartments but originally my idea was to just get together with my peers. There is a natural attraction to talking with other chefs others in the industry. I started thinking food suppliers might be interested in coming” he said.
He adds even bank representatives were interested in the idea when they heard about it so really anyone is welcome to come.
Meetings will be held during the “slow season” from November to April and be suspended during the busy summer months. The first meeting is being held at the Bonnie View Inn on Wednesday Nov. 14.
“It’s all-encompassing. Anyone in the industry is more than welcome” he said.
Cost for dinner is $30 inclusive and the event also includes a cash bar. Beer tasting will be provided by Boshkung Brewing Co. Rooms at the inn will be available at a reduced rate. Picard invites anyone interested to RSVP by Nov. 11. Call the reservation line at the inn 705-457-2350. Those unable to attend the dinner are welcome to come and network close to 7 p.m.
Picard started in the food industry when he was 13 cooking chickens at the Dixie Lee Chicken restaurant in Haliburton owned by Ken Fielding. His close to four decades of work included experience at the Pinestone Resort starting with an apprenticeship where he was inspired by chef John Mitchell in the late 1980s.
With Mitchell’s encouragement Picard attended Bracebridge Muskoka Lakes Secondary School (after studying at Haliburton Highlands Secondary School in Grade 9 and 10) for its food technology course taught by John Hudswell. He graduated from George Brown College with a diploma in culinary arts in 1989. He then worked as a chef at Deerhurst Resort and was also the executive chef at Killarney Lodge in Algonquin Park.
After close to five years out of the industry he returned when introduced to Bonnie View Inn’s Andrea Hagarty.
Since starting the association he has learned there is already a Highlands-based group of industry representatives who meet. He said the groups could be amalgamated.
Picard has garnered support from fellow chefs Dave Adams of Sir Sam’s Inn and Chris Carl of Rhubarb and Boshkung Brewery Co.
For future events he said a charitable component can be added to benefit the local food banks.
However he thinks it’s something the entire group should vote on for fairness.
Picard said attitude is the key to success.
“Professional training is not necessarily key to getting into this business. It’s the willingness of the individual. The passion they have to be able to prepare something. If you’re willing to learn and you’re teachable it can be taught” he said.