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You might be surprised to learn that one of the best meals in San Diego can be found at The Salvation Army!

Jacques Martinet lead a very cosmopolitan life: born in Algeria to a French-Swiss family, he trained at a culinary school in the South of France at fourteen, then worked in restaurants in France, Switzerland, Tahiti, Kenya, Brazil and on California’s central coast.

Jacques Martinet - photo by Suzi Lacey

Jacques Martinet - photo by Suzi Lacey

Now, Martinet is using his formidable culinary skills to help the men at The Salvation Army’s rehabilitation center in San Diego repair their broken lives and start again. His food helps them heal. And, a select few get invited into the kitchen to learn from the master.

Martinet is no stranger to the recovery process. His high-stress life (preparing haute cuisine in the Bank of France’s private dining room, serving as the chef in the luxurious Inn at Morro Bay, for instance) took its toll on him. He made a choice several years back to get control of his life, so he entered the rehabilitation program to get clean and sober and decided to stay.

He could have gone back into the restaurant business, but says that working for The Salvation Army supports his own recovery and allows him to relate to the men and show them that they can have hope and a new life. He especially likes training program residents in the kitchen so they can leave with a valuable skill.

He lovingly prepares food for people who really appreciate his cooking. In the restaurant business, Martinet knew his food was good because he didn’t get complaints. Here, the men in recovery tell him how much his work is appreciated every day.

Captain Grady Brown, director of the rehabilitation program, says that out of the 120 Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Centers in the country, “I think it’s safe to say that there is no chef more qualified and gifted than our Jacques. We’re blessed to have him.”


Marlene Gerber and Suzi Lacey also contributed to this story.

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