This September, Chef Ric’s opened at 384 Rideau Street, the site previously occupied by the Rideau Bakery. Although they’ve only been open for three months, Chef Ric and the Ottawa Mission Food Services Training Program have a much longer history to be proud of.
“Since moving into the home of the former Rideau Bakery, we’re so pleased to be carrying on its traditions of community service and spreading kindness through expanding our successful Food Services Training Program and offering the community delicious and nutritious food at affordable prices.”
—The Ottawa Mission
Since 2004, as their story goes, Chef Ric Watson and the Food Services Training Program have been teaching men and women the skills they need to support themselves and find work. And since September 2021, they’ve also been providing tasty, affordable fresh and frozen food to the community. They’ve even got a cookbook featuring 12 soups and 12 stories from their culinary school graduates available for sale.
View this post on Instagram
Peeking behind the counter isn’t hard to do in the open concept space, and on a weekday morning, the shop was busy with the sounds of food prep and hungry customers waiting to order the $4.99 breakfast special.
Served from 11am to 2pm, the daily lunch special will run you $6.99. Made to order sandwiches are also only $6.99, with sides of soup or pastries available. A sign on the counter describes a special holiday meal lunch: turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, tourtière and pumpkin tart. These are gourmet meals we’re talking about, at affordable prices. Frozen meals like mac and cheese, butter chicken, and shepherd’s pie are available in the coolers. Check out their menu online.
But this isn’t just about great food at an affordable price: This is a social enterprise that offers valuable job training.
According to their website, the Ottawa Mission’s Food Services Training Program provides students with the culinary skills and all certifications required to operate in a commercial kitchen. They provide practical skills, theoretical skills, and training on commercial kitchen equipment at zero cost to students. Applications are available online.
Reached by email, the Ottawa Mission had this to say: “The Ottawa Mission is delighted by the community’s response to Chef Ric’s. Since moving into the home of the former Rideau Bakery, we’re so pleased to be carrying on its traditions of community service and spreading kindness through expanding our successful Food Services Training Program and offering the community delicious and nutritious food at affordable prices. Not only has Chef Ric’s been welcomed by the community in Ottawa, it’s been profiled nationally as a model that other service organizations can adopt to help people in need.”
In addition to the storefront, the Food Services Training Program offers catering. Whether you’re planning a wedding, hosting a meeting, or looking to feed a group of family and friends, Chef Ric’s should be on the menu.
Chef Ric’s is located at 384 Rideau Street and is takeout only. Breakfast is available Monday to Friday from 7:30–11am and from 8am–2pm on weekends. The daily lunch special and sandwich bar are available from 11am–2pm. Follow them on Instagram @chefrics.