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CHEf + founder, freshwater cuisine


Chef. Successful entrepreneur. Mental health and addiction recovery advocate. Chef Jay Barnard wears many hats. A professionally trained chef (Algonquin College, 2008), Jay has many years in the restaurant industry, ranging from running restaurants at the Westin and Delta hotels in Ottawa, to operating a large commercial restaurant operation in Fort McMurray, AB for Compass Group Canada. While in Alberta, Chef Barnard also ran a successful catering business, doing work for major clients ranging from Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and William Shatner, to then-prime minister, Stephen Harper.  

As President and CEO of Freshwater Cuisine – a market-disrupting start-up company - Chef Jay has brought his passion for culinary innovation to the freshwater fish industry. Focusing on underutilized, undervalued freshwater fish species in Northwestern Ontario, Chef Jay has created innovative value-added products which have found recognition in the food industry. A passionate advocate for regional cuisine, Chef Jay made it his mission to move Northwestern Ontario palates toward a greater appreciation for the many fine fish species that inhabit its lakes.  In doing so, he has provided a showcase for the culinary treasures this region has to offer – often pairing his innovative fish products with local delicacies such as wild rice, blueberries, local craft beer and wild mushrooms.  Just as Chef Jay has pushed the Northwestern Ontario palate, he is now well on his way to changing how the country – and then the world – thinks about Northwestern Ontario freshwater fish.

In 2017, Freshwater Cuisine received the Premier's Agri-food Award for Innovation Excellence.