Local chef wins charity top chef competition

Jade Berg

After a car accident left his friend in a coma, Jade Berg learned a new appreciation for Ronald McDonald House and how important it is in keeping families together.

This past weekend, the new Campbell River resident returned to Calgary for a battle of the chefs fundraiser for the organization that helped him and his friend all those years ago.

Berg had the ingredients for his honey mussel ravioli flown fresh for the big event. He said it was an opportunity for him to showcase the good local food we have available to us on the Island.

The honey mussels came from a farmer on Quadra Island, the fresh pasta from Prontissma Pasta in Courtenay. Natural Pastures mixed Berg a batch of ricotta cheese. He even bought the hazel nuts locally.

“[I’m] really just trying to expose our region as best I can and showcase not only to Vancouver Island but to the rest of Canada and the rest of the world why we are lucky to live on Vancouver Island and all the food that we can access here,” he said.

The event, called Taste of Home, saw the six chefs split into teams of three and prepare three dishes each. Shaw was live streaming the event for the crowd of around 220 people as they waited to eat.

Berg and his teammates won the trophy at the end of the night. Berg, who had a hand in making the event happen in the first place, said they considered giving the winning team a cash prize, but decided all of the proceeds should go to Ronald McDonald House and the competition should just be for bragging rights.

Berg said he hopes to bring events like this to Campbell River. He is currently working as a private chef and plans on opening a restaurant in the city next fall.

“I’d love to start doing more stuff that benefits my community that we just purchased a home in,” he said.

Berg grew up in High River, just south of Calgary. His passion for cooking started in junior high when he skipped school to watch the Food Network. From there he worked for food and beer at the only fine dining restaurant in High River.

As soon as he was done high school he left, booked himself a one way ticket to Vancouver and walked out of the airport with about 1,000 resumes, a couple changes of clothes and only $100.

He said he spent the first few weeks couch surfing and job hunting. After selling suites and starting his apprenticeship at Cactus Club Cafe he worked side by side with who he called one of Canada’s best chefs. While helping open a restaurant in Powell River, he met his girlfriend.

They lived together in Vancouver for a little while before getting pregnant and deciding that the big city was no place to raise a child. Berg did a season at Strathcona Park Lodge before starting his own chef business. He said it was a great opportunity to get to know the farmers and producers in the area.

Berg is passionate about using locally sourced food in his dishes.