A recipe for success
Chef Garry Gosse of Tilton earns his place in culinary industry
Climbing out of his truck at Harbour Breeze Catering in Harbour Grace, Garry Gosse laughs and apologizes for being a couple of minutes late.
Grabbing three hangers of clothing and a large trophy out of his vehicle, the 36-year-old heads up the front stairs.
“I have three meetings today and for each one I have to wear something different ,” he smirks as he balances the trophy on his chest and holds open the door.
It’s been a hectic few weeks for the popular chef and business owner from neighbouring Spaniard’s Bay. Just two days prior, Garry came home from the 32nd annual Chefs Gala ball and dinner at the Sheraton Hotel in St. John’s with the province’s most prestigious award in his industry.
The Culinarian of the Year award is given to a chef who has not only contributed to the cooking industry, but also has made a significant impact on their community.
“I wasn’t told beforehand,” Gosse explains during a chat in his office. “When I heard the bio, I was a bit taken back. It’s an honour to get chosen among your peers.”
While attending high school at Ascension Collegiate, Gosse helped his dad in his garage fixing cars. He enjoyed it, but it wasn’t the career path he wanted to take.
A family friend told him about the exciting opportunities that would await if he went to culinary arts school, and Gosse thought it might be the right path for him.
“I went from changing oil to cooking oil,” he laughs.
Right out of high school, he left home and headed to Prince Edward Island to attend Holland College.
Although he found the first year of the program a struggle, Gosse knew it was the career for him once he completed his work placement at Terra Nova Lodge.
Graduating from the culinary arts and the pastry arts programs with honours, Gosse began his career in P.E.I. but soon found himself in Bermuda as a chef de partie, also known as a line cook.
After spending four years in Bermuda, the tourism industry slowed after the Sept. 11 World Trade Centre attacks and he returned to Canada.
It wasn’t long before another opportunity became available for Gosse back in Bermuda. He worked as an executive chef at a resort restaurant, but the devastation of Hurricane Fabian closed the resort down, and Gosse packed his bags to return home.
Upon returning to Newfoundland, Gosse and his wife, Lori, opened the Harbour Breeze.
“We didn’t know the challenges we were going to face,” he says.
The couple were working 16- to 18-hour days, sleeping on two cots in what is now the office.
Starting with a small staff, the business has blossomed over the course of 10 years. Out of its 54 employees, seven women have been there since day one, including Theresa Greeley.
“Theresa has been my go-to person from the beginning,” Garry explains. “She’s been a big part (of the business).”
But he says all the members of his staff are important, because they are the reason the business is still going.
“My staff is everything to me,” he says.
Garry also credits his customers for Harbour Breeze’s success.
“Success is only measured by happiness and if people around you appreciate what you’re doing.”
The next step was to grow the business even more, so Garry added school cafeteria catering in 2007-08.
“Two contracts blossomed to 10,” he explains. And it just grew from there.
Garry also stars in a television program on Eastlink called Grillworks where he demonstrates cooking barbecue. His children, Brooke and Luke, have been special guests on the show.
Garry is not only a great chef; he is known for his generosity.
Some of the organizations he has been involved with include the Canadian Cancer Society, the Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Care Centre, the Trinity Conception Placentia Health Care Foundation and the Kidney Foundation.
He is involved with the Daffodil Place Cooking for Life program, giving cooking demonstrations to those with cancer, and has been a big supporter of fundraisers for local schools and organizations.
He also volunteers as a minor hockey coach, has been a volunteer firefighter, helps organize the Bay Roberts Seafood Festival and is the district representative for the Restaurant Association of Newfoundland and Labrador.
But the most important thing in Garry’s life is that he is a dad and a husband. “I’m a big family person,” he says. One of the biggest compliments he has ever received came from Edible Road Trip, an online blog of food critiques.
The bloggers referred to Garry’s meal of maple-molasses braised pork belly with a fig and tomato ketchup and turnip puree as “one of the most Canadian dishes we’ve come across.”
But no matter how far his success goes, no matter how big his name gets, he is still a proud, small town Newfoundlander with a big appreciation for the art of cooking.
“Who would have thought little old Garry Gosse from Tilton would be where he is,” he exclaims. “I’m very passionate in what I do.”
Harbour Breeze Catering owner and chef Garry Gosse has been named the province’s Culinarian of the Year.