November 04, 2021

Ottawa Mission graduates first class of Food Services students trained at “Chef Ric’s”

More than 90% of graduating students secure employment in the food services industry

Ottawa, ON – Today the first class of Food Services Training Program (FSPT) students trained within “Chef Ric’s”, The Ottawa Mission’s new social enterprise housed within the former Rideau Bakery, received their diplomas. Of the 13 graduates for this class, 12 have found employment in the sector.

One of those graduates is Erica Lafrance. A survivor of abuse and violence, she relocated to Ottawa with her children to rebuild her life. When she heard about the FSTP, she knew it would help her get back on her feet. “When I first heard about Chef Ric’s, there was something very comforting about it. I love the community feel of Chef Ric’s. There’s compassion and there’s heart here. Because of this program, I’m in the driver’s seat of my own life now.” Erica is working at a local restaurant and couldn’t be happier.

The FSTP is the creation of Chef Ric Allen-Watson, The Mission’s Director of Food Services. Finding himself alone and homeless at age 14, he knows the power of paying it forward. “Someone reached out to me and showed me that education could help. And that why I started this program: to give people the help they need to rebuild their lives.”

Since the inception of the FSTP in 2004, 203 people have graduated from the program, 90% of whom have gone on to positions in the food services industry. In September 2021, operations for the FSTP were moved from the shelter to Chef Ric’s to add more space and train up to 75 people each year, doubling the capacity of the program.

“As Ottawa gradually emerges from the pandemic, we anticipate that The Ottawa Mission will remain the first place of refuge for increasing numbers of very vulnerable people going forward for the next several years. By expanding this incredibly successful program at Chef Ric’s, we’re doing our part to help even more people in need,” Ottawa Mission CEP Peter Tilley concluded.

About The Ottawa Mission

Since 1906, The Ottawa Mission has been serving those who are homeless, hungry and lost by providing food, clothing, shelter and skills. In 2020-2021, The Ottawa Mission provided emergency shelter to an average of 185 men every night and served an average of 1,994 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 its housing department. Visit to learn more.


Aileen Leo
Director of Communications
T 613.234.1144 x 305