From a very young age, local celebrity chef Jamie Kennedy loved to cook.
He learned many of his early lessons from watching Julia Child’s The French Chef.
The most important lesson he says learned from Child: it’s ok to make mistakes.
It’s a lesson that proved valuable in his future endeavours.
“The economy can dive,” Kennedy said.
While Kennedy has seen a number of his restaurants fold, he says he has no regrets. He shared his stories with Centennial College students at the Centre for Creative Communications recently. He says his restaurant closures have allowed him to emerge as a better businessperson, more focused on a personal approach to cooking, he said.
Kennedy was acknowledged with the Order of Canada late last year, largely for the contributions that he has made to Canadian food. He is a big proponent of the local food movement and is often described as a food activist.
“When you engage in local food procurement principals, wherever you are in Canada, or anywhere else in the world, you’re engaging community,” Kennedy said. “As a society, globally, we are moving away from the global model of food production and more of an emphasis on communities supporting themselves.”
Kennedy acknowledges that not everything that he cooks is 100 per cent Ontario. But, there are some things that he absolutely refuses to serve in his restaurants. Among those items are Chilean sea bass and farmed salmon.
Kennedy is creating a network of local growers and farmers to source local food. For example, he says, one farmer to go to for sweet potatoes and another farmer entirely for Swiss chard.
When Kennedy received the Order of Canada, his first reaction was embarrassment.“You feel with your peers, why me.” Kennedy said. “I go to work everyday, forever. You don’t expect something like this. I certainly didn’t ever expect it.”