John Paul Mooney harvests his own produce, fillets his own fish, grows, dries and smokes the hot peppers that go into the spice rubs for JP’s Barbecue & Catering. The trout he serves come from a fish farm just around the corner from his home in Otterville, Ontario.
JP’s approach to food reflects his rural roots: born in Simcoe, he has lived most of his life surrounded by the farms of Norfolk County. After working in several kitchens around the province, he headed out west to the tree planting camps of British Columbia.
“I helped the cook one year,” JP recalls. “They loved my food so much I ran my own kitchen the following year.” His roots pulled him back to Ontario: his interest in cooking brought him to Liaison College in Hamilton.After graduating from the Chef de Cuisine program in June 2010, he brought to life the idea that had been percolating in his mind: a barbeque catering service. So where does JP’s custom trailer fit in?
“The idea developed to get around the challenge of finding certified kitchens wherever I needed one,” he explains. “Now I have a fully mobile kitchen in my 30-foot trailer that I can do all my catering from.”
You don’t have to be amongst his regular customers to catch a glimpse of JP’s Barbeque and Catering though. He has been out and about with the trailer this year to events like Friday the 13th in Port Dover, The Woodstock Fair and Woodstock sidewalk sales, where new customers came back with friends in tow four days in a row. It could be the dry-aged meat from a small local butcher that brings them back to JP’s, his unique, home-grown blend of dry-rub spices, or his extensive menu that, along with the usual beef, pork and chicken options, includes grilled fish and vegetarian dishes too. Or maybe it’s his commitment to support the farms of Norfolk and Oxford County. Whatever his winning formula, we are proud to count him among our graduates.