Passionate About Inspiring Others
Known as Chef Recovery, Jay Barnard takes his real-life recovery from drugs and alcohol and turns them into real life recipes for success. Along his journey of being clean and sober for the past 14+ years and as a mental health advocate, Jay realized early on that sharing his life story not only helps his own recovery but helps others who might be struggling too. Jay travels across Canada sharing his story with hundreds of people inspiring them to make changes in their own lives to be the best version of themselves. Now a successful Executive Chef and CEO running his own business, it is hard to believe Chef Jay Barnard was once an addict so out of control that most had lost hope that he would ever be able to turn his life around. This is his story.
My story of addiction goes back to age 11, growing up in Kenora, Ontario - a small community 2 hours east of Winnipeg. After my parents divorced, I found comfort in food, hopelessly eating away my pain and sadness, until I weighed 200 lbs. My father and grandmother were both alcoholics so I started drinking alcohol before I was in my teens.
At age 12, I smoked marijuana for the first time and started selling it to support my own habit at age 14. This started the downward spiral for the next 14 years. Next up was cocaine and crack, getting kicked out of high school, and by age 18, I was a full-blown addict. Even my first culinary job as a line cook at a pizzeria was just a hideout to sell drugs. The next 10 years consisted of everything from driving under suspension, stealing a vehicle, numerous fines and time in jail, using heroin, a couple of suicide attempts, and trying to hold down jobs while keeping up my habits and selling drugs. I was going nowhere and I was going there fast.
At age 26, sitting in jail, I finally started to wonder what I wanted to do with my life. Fast forward 2 years, I decided to go to the Anchorage Addiction Recovery program at the Salvation Army's Booth Centre in Ottawa. It was there that my recovery started on February 11, 2008. After a 6-month recovery program and one year in a second-stage support home, my life really began.
Now as an Executive Chef and CEO of my own company, I am in my 14th year being clean and sober. I travel across Canada sharing my story of real-life recovery and delivering a message of hope to others.
Jay uses his story to inspire and empower others through his motivational public speaking. He has a powerful message of hope and recovery. His journey not only empowers those who struggle with addiction, but also speaks to those who have lost themselves to bullying, feeling like a failure in school and being a child of divorce.