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By Elizabeth Mabie

A local youth pastor and chef has mixed his passions for his faith and food by creating an environment for Ottawa teens to come and enjoy a meal, make friends, and come closer to God through a message and discussion.

Jeremy Sauve completed the one-year cook training program at Algonquin in 1996 when he was 19-years-old. His inspiration to study cooking came from the TV show, Three’s Company, where he thought that the character Jack had the coolest job running a bistro. He began working in restaurants when he was 13-years-old where he gained an understanding of the business and believed becoming a chef was the logical next step. Sauve, 37, spent a few years working in restaurants and a retirement home, but eventually ended up as head chef at House of Menzies in Scotland.

“I hate the industry, but love to cook.”

Sauve took the job of youth pastor at St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church in Ottawa in 2006. His current Friday night program, Epicentre, ranges from a variety of activities including photo scavenger hunts, retreats, and once a month Sauve cooks a healthy meal for the kids and provides a biblical lesson for the teens to reflect on.

“The big reason for this ministry is community,” says Sauve, “Young people are always desperately searching for a community to be a part of and community is best found around the dinner table. Food brings people together.”

There are around nine high schools represented by the group of kids that attend, so at first a lot of them do not know the others. Sauve is simply providing them with the tools to use to build friendships with each other.

Recently, Epicentre has been getting together with local autistic kids who come to join them for dinner. About 12 autistics kids come on a regular basis and is a great way for teens and those with a disability to get to know each other and get aquainted.

In the past few months, Sauve has begun following the Paleo Diet as way to manage his physical pain after being told that gluten was the cause. He is used to making his food from scratch because eating healthy is important to him, but it is difficult to make the transition from making homemade breads and other starchy foods to finding good products and recipes for gluten free meals.

He is not looking at this change as an unfortunate experience, though. His creativity and skills have been challenged with the new ingredients.

“It’s helped me to become a better chef.”

His family and the youth group have been eating the same meals, so he has been introducing a healthier lifestyle to them. Sauve has always cooked with lots of vegetables, so none of the teens have noticed the changes.

“Everyone eats what I eat,” says Sauve, “I’m not going to make a whole other meal for everyone else. Youth eat a lot of crap these days and it’s less expensive when I have to cook for 25 youth and nine leaders.”

“Food is emphasized in Christ’s ministry. He used it to bring people together.”