Food Blog • Vegan Recipes • Animal Stories
Jay L. Weiner is a Vegan Chef and Cofounder of The Gentle Barn, one of the country's largest farmed animal sanctuaries. Jay manages all aspects of the national nonprofit, including all three Gentle Barn sanctuaries in California, Missouri, and Tennessee along with his wife and love of his life Ellie Laks, who is the founder. Jay has personally rescued/supported the rescue of and rehabilitated thousands of animals across the United States. Jay regularly pulls animals from stockyards, slaughterhouses, backyard butchers, animal cruelty cases, hoarders and more. Jay manages and conducts all public relations and events including all food-related events at The Gentle Barn, including numerous vegan dinner clubs, The Gentle Barn’s annual Thanksgiving event (now in its 20th year), plant-based cooking classes, fundraising dinner galas, and intimate dinners, tours and social gatherings for VIP donors and celebrities, such as Ellen DeGeneres, Portia de Rossi, Jenna Dewan, Steve-O, Hillary Swank, Tiffani Thiessen, David Backes, Daisy Fuentes, Richard Marx, Rikki Rockett, Pamela Anderson, Alicia Silverstone and Ruby Rose, to name a few.
Before joining Ellie Laks to run The Gentle Barn in 2001, Jay worked in catering and restaurants since the age of 15 and developed and ran corporations, specializing in the expansion of businesses into the United States and sales and marketing. He was trained in French and Italian cuisine and worked under several professional chefs at restaurants and catering companies. He also helped open several restaurants in CA and still advises on the development of Vegan restaurants, teaching restaurants and hotels how to cater to the plant-bast community and helps develop and promote Vegan and natural products today. For many years, Jay managed and catered large weddings and private functions in and around Los Angeles. Jay's passion for animal welfare led him to adopt a plant-based diet about 18 years ago. He now delivers his message of kindness to animals, our health and our planet through The Gentle Barn's programs with Ellie and by teaching the benefits of plant-based cooking and creating delicious vegan recipes for The Gentle Barn's many visitors and followers on social media.
Jay conducts plant-based cooking classes at The Gentle Barn, as well as at cooking schools and culinary stores such as Williams-Sonoma and Whole Foods. Jay frequently appears in cooking videos demonstrating how to prepare vegan meals. Jay has personally supported thousands of people as they transition to plant-based eating by deepening their skills as plant-based cooks and introducing them to The Gentle Barn's approximate 200 animals. Each year, The Gentle Barn moves about 125,000 people to a plant-based diet, and that number is growing annually by about 20%.
Jay recently won the élite Magazine Gentleman in Business award and has been the focus of many interviews. Jay has also been the key note speaker and speaks regularly at industry events on topics ranging from culinary and natural products to animal welfare and corporate social responsibility. Jay lives at The Gentle Barn in Santa Clarita, California with his wife and Founder of The Gentle Barn, Ellie Laks, their three children and approximately 125 animal kids.
The Gentle Barn is a national nonprofit organization, founded in 1999 as a sanctuary and place of recovery for animals and children. We rescue and rehabilitate animals from severe abuse and neglect who are too old, sick, lame, or scared to be adopted. The Gentle Barn rescues horses, donkeys, cows, pigs, sheep, goats, turkeys, chickens, llamas, peacocks, emus, cats and dogs. The Gentle Barn offers a unique philosophy of connecting the animals’ stories of survival and healing to the personal experiences of inner city, at-risk and special needs children who have suffered physical, mental or emotional trauma. By interacting with The Gentle Barn’s approximate one 200 animals and taking a hands-on role in their welfare, those who participate in the programs at The Gentle Barn learn empathy, trust and forgiveness.
Ellie Laks founded The Gentle Barn in 1999; it was a dream of hers since she was seven years old. Animals were always very healing and nurturing to her as she faced the challenges of growing up, finding herself, fitting in, feeling understood, etc. She majored in special education and psychology, and with her special love of animals and children, The Gentle Barn was a perfect way of putting all her talents and passions into one.
Jay Weiner joined The Gentle Barn in 2002 as a volunteer, but fell in love with the place and the mission and was able to bring his business knowledge, animal experience, experience working with children and love of food to The Gentle Barn. Ellie and Jay joined forces to heal even more children and animals together. Like Ellie, Jay also turned to animals for the support, love and nurturing he needed as a child who faced the same types of struggles.
The Gentle Barn started on a half-acre property in the middle of the San Fernando Valley, in Tarzana, CA. In 2003, Ellie and Jay moved The Gentle Barn to a six-acre ranch property in Santa Clarita, CA, where The Gentle Barn is today. The property is complete with horse and cow pastures, a red and white barnyard for the smaller animals, an organic vegetable garden, lots of shade trees, and a panoramic view of gorgeous mountains. The Gentle Barn's rescued animals are safe and happy at The Gentle Barn in CA, and there is plenty of room to welcome visitors from around the world and the children they host.
The Gentle Barn has a second location in Nashville, Tennessee, and a third in St Louis, Missouri. It is Ellie and Jay's goal to open Gentle Barns across the country, so that everyone in America can hug cows, cuddle turkeys, give pigs tummy rubs, and look into the eyes of these animals and know for certain that we are all the same, and deserving of the same rights, respects, and freedoms. Since its inception, The Gentle Barn has aided in the rescue of thousands of animals and been host to over 500,000 people. For more information, visit The Gentle Barn website.