September 09, 2021

Cooking Up a New Dream: The Ottawa Mission Opens Up “Chef Ric’s”

Ottawa, ON – Today The Ottawa Mission celebrated its grand opening of its new social enterprise “Chef Ric’s” at the former home of Ottawa’s beloved Rideau Bakery. The Mission appreciates the grant of almost $417,200 from the Ontario Trillium Foundation as well as the contributions of so many donors and supporters to realize this project.

This new facility will expand The Mission’s very successful Food Services Training Program (FSTP), which provides graduates the skills and credentials to work in a commercial kitchen, as well as a storefront operation where all members of the community can purchase healthy prepared meal options at very affordable prices. Chef Ric’s will also expand The Mission’s growing catering business, with all proceeds directed back into the FSTP, and be the new home of The Mission’s Mobile Mission Meals food truck program, which has served over 120,000 meals since it began one year ago.

Ottawa Mission CEO Peter Tilley noted the important connection to the Kardish family, the former owners and operators of the Rideau Bakery. “I’m delighted to welcome you here today to our very own “Chef Ric’s”, our new social enterprise at the former home of Ottawa’s beloved Rideau Bakery which provided a feeling of home, warmth and inclusion to people in our community for almost 90 years.”

Chef Ric Allen-Watson, Director of Food Services, noted the impact of the FSTP and how the expansion will help even more people in need. “Our space within our shelter wasn’t big enough to meet the demand and we had to turn applicants away, which we didn’t want to keep doing. Since 2004, this program has graduated 190 people, 90% of whom have gone to jobs in the food service industry. Through this expansion, we expect to graduate about 25 more students per year into new lives, self-sufficiency, and independence.”

Erica La France, a current FSTP student, explained what the program means to her. “I grew up in abuse, but I baked a lot, and that was something I really enjoyed. It was very therapeutic for me. I love the community feel of Chef Ric’s. We’re feeding a community of people that have that same basic need for food as somebody who is able to provide it easily. I have the connection to the community through Chef Ric’s. This program allows me to be independent and in charge of my own life.”

Mayor Jim Watson pointed out the continuing leadership of The Ottawa Mission to help people improve their lives through Chef Ric’s. “This new social enterprise is one more example of the innovative approach of The Ottawa Mission, our community’s oldest and largest homeless shelter, to help people rebuild their lives and attain pride, dignity and independence.”

Mathieu Fleury, Councillor for Rideau-Vanier, noted the impact of Chef Ric’s on his ward. “Your Food Services Training Program helps people to become independent by giving your graduates skills, training and a pathway to a job. And your food truck keeps people fed, including the five stops in this ward, which is very much appreciated. This ward needs this support. Our community has the highest rate of food bank usage in the province, and a much lower median income. Chef Ric’s and The Mission offer people hope and practical support to improve their lives.”

Lucille Collard, MPP for Ottawa-Vanier, noted the public investment in Chef Ric’s. “I’m glad that the province has supported this very worthy project through the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Public investment in social enterprises such as Chef Ric’s are an excellent and cost-effective way to provide as much benefit as possible to people in need.”

Lalit Aggarwal, President of Manor Park Management, explained about why he decided to support Chef Ric’s through charging only $10 per year for the enhanced space. “I learned that The Mission needed new space to expand the Food Services Training Program. People like Erica and so many others want to improve their lot. That’s the hook. This will now be even more important with the lingering effects of COVID-19 in our community. It’s great to see it all come together in the home of the former Rideau Bakery.”

Debbie Baylin, speaking on behalf of the Kardish family, extended their best wishes to The Mission on the opening of Chef Ric’s. “The Rideau Bakery was in operation for almost 90 years under the ownership of three generations of the Kardish family. Four generations of brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, were part of the operation.  Everyone learned how to work hard. We wish great success to “Chef Ric’s” and are confident that your workers share the diligence and work ethic that seemed to pervade the family and staff at the Rideau Bakery.”

Chef Ric concluded with a tribute to the Kardish family. “I’m so happy that our new home is the former Rideau Bakery, and that the Kardish family can be with us today to celebrate. Louis, David, Josh and Debbie: you will always be part of our family here at 384 Rideau Street.”

About The Ottawa Mission

Since 1906, The Ottawa Mission has been serving the homeless, the hungry and the lost by providing food, clothing, shelter and skills. In 2019-2020, The Ottawa Mission provided emergency shelter to an average of 197 men every night and served an average of 1,422 meals every day.  The Ottawa Mission also provides to men and women health services, mental health and addiction treatment programs, hospice care, dental services, housing services, educational support, job training, spiritual care, and clothing to thousands in need in our community. In September 2020, The Ottawa Mission marked the one millionth hour that the shelter has been in existence since its founding in 1906. In 2019, the Mission became a housing-focused shelter reflective of its commitment to a home for everyone as a human right with the launch of a new housing department. Visit to learn more.

About the Ontario Trillium Foundation

The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations. Last year, nearly $112M was invested into 1,384 community projects and partnerships to build healthy and vibrant communities and strengthen the impact of Ontario’s non-profit sector. In 2020/21, OTF supported Ontario’s economic recovery by helping non-profit organizations rebuild and recover from the impacts of COVID-19.  Visit to learn more.


Aileen Leo
Director of Communications
T 613.234.1144 x 305