The Catering by Jonathan Byrd’s team hosts many events for non-profit and community organizations throughout the year at the 502 East Event Centre, but none of them touches our hearts like Janus does.

Janus is a group that provides education, job training, and skill development to disabled adults to give them the opportunity to contribute within the community. Programs within Janus help these adults with job training, education, and independent living.  Since 1979, Janus services have provided individuals the opportunity to hold jobs, develop interpersonal skills, explore new interests and live more independent and fulfilled lives. These disabled adults are referred to as “clients,” and there is really no limit to what they can do. 

Chef Brett shows clients how to make italian sabayon with berries
(picture courtesy of Krista Lawson)

What makes Janus fun for clients is the variety of training and activities they can be a part of.  Job training is not limited to one job. Clients can work together in a factory setting constructing aquarium tank lids, performing various duties at the Janus Golf and Batting Center, creating paintings and birdhouses through the hidden talents program, working in the Capabilities Café located at the Hamilton County Courthouse, or participate in the culinary team preparing and serving food at Janus’ regular community luncheons.  These latter programs teach clients about food preparation, food safety, customer service, and money handling.

The Community Luncheon is where the staff from Catering by Jonathan Byrd’s was able to see how capable these clients really are. They deftly served every table beverages, a salad, lasagna, and dessert.  This luncheon is not only a way to display Janus’ programs to the community, but also an opportunity for the clients to learn a new recipe to prepare and serve. Janus holds their annual fundraiser at 502 East, but it wasn’t until we came to them that we truly grasped how important their work is and how we felt we could best help support them.

Chef Brett demonstrates how to separate an egg
(picture courtesy of Krista Lawson)

Janus not only helps get clients involved throughout Hamilton County, but they really work hard to make a strong community within their walls. The directors and the clients seem to know everyone’s name, and smiles and hugs are plentiful within the Janus building. Janus is not only filled with happy hearts, but also great stories of clients who have come so far because Janus provided them with lots of opportunities to learn and grow. There are many clients who have gained employment at local businesses because of the training and support they received at Janus.

Then Janus created another opportunity for their clients, a program they call Chef’s Table.  Brett Lewis, Executive Chef at Catering by Jonathan Byrd’s and 502 East, was invited to be the first to participate. Chef Brett has a passion for teaching about cooking, so he was up for the challenge. He had never taught a cooking class for people with disabilities before, but he knew that a step-by-step approach and patience was key.

“One thing that was a challenge for me was thinking of a recipe in steps,” said Chef Brett. “The steps have to be simple, but they have to be steps.”

A client makes italian sabayon with berries after watching Chef Brett
(picture courtesy of Krista Lawson)

The Chef’s Table Class featured 5 clients, 2 recipes, and many excited onlookers. Staff and other clients were intrigued by the smells from the kitchen and were excited to see what was cooking. Chef Brett had a great rapport with the clients as they told him food jokes and asked him many questions about the process.

“The very first time Chef Brett came to Janus he and our clients made Bacon Wrapped Dates stuffed with almonds and Italian Sabayon with berries.  They both were absolutely delicious,” said Debbie Laird, SVP of development at Janus. “Our clients were overjoyed working with Chef Brett.  They enjoyed learning the culinary skills that came with working with a professional. Chef Brett has come to Janus 3 times and after each visit our clients immediately asked when he was coming again.  Chef Brett has a natural ability to interact with people with disabilities.  He is patient, kind and professional.”

Chef Brett shows a client how to stuff almonds into dates
(picture courtesy of Krista Lawson)

Chef Brett returned to Janus twice to help prepare the food for the luncheon. Each time he worked with new clients and had a new recipe for them to learn. His step-by-step approach not only worked well with executing the recipe, but also helped them remember the easy steps to learn the recipe to make at home.

“Not only was this an exciting opportunity for me, but other members of my culinary team are excited to participate as well,” said Chef Brett.

Chef Brett’s head is buzzing about other recipes he can bring to the clients at Janus when his schedule allows. Once Indiana weather starts turning warmer, the clients at Janus will plant a vegetable garden and Chef hopes to use some of those fresh ingredients in upcoming classes.

Chef Brett poses with some of the Janus Clients after cooking class
(picture courtesy of Krista Lawson)

Catering by Jonathan Byrd’s is very excited to once again host Janus’ annual fundraiser at 502 East on May 3rd. We are also delighted to include the clients of Janus in our kitchen to help prepare and plate food for their fundraiser. If you would like to attend the Janus Fundraising Breakfast, please call Debbie Laird at 317-773-8781, ext. 100 to reserve a seat.

If you’re a chef that is interested in working with Janus and their clients, or if you want to learn more about other ways you can participate, visit the Janus website at: www.janus-inc.org

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