Nourishing the Body, Nourishes the Soul

The Refuge – A Healing Place is a residential treatment program, in Ocklawaha, FL, that specializes in substance abuse, Trauma, PTSD and co-occurring disorders. The program is 12-step based with a strong  emphasis on holistic and experiential modalities that include Equine, Somatic Experiencing®, Art Therapy, Massage, Meditation, Acupuncture and an array of other body based and experiential treatment approaches.


The Refuge philosophy to treating both addiction and trauma includes a three pronged approach to addressing the needs of the body, mind and spirit. As part of this approach, nutrition and education play an intricate role in helping nurture our clients back to health and teaching them to take better care of their bodies. Research shows that those in active addiction do not eat a balanced diet, often times suffering from malnutrition, dehydration and compromised immune systems that can cause them to be more susceptible to depression, infection and overall poor health. The focus of the culinary program at The Refuge is to not only provide balanced meals for our clients, but to educate them on how healthy eating can aid them in their recovery while also providing them with hands on instruction on how to cook for themselves and learn kitchen safety.

Led by Executive Chef, Patrick Cahill, The Refuge culinary team takes a hands on approach to making sure that all of our client’s dietary needs are met. Patrick has been the Executive Chef at The Refuge since 2004, but neither his story with The Refuge  nor his love for food started there. Patrick began his career working in restaurants and serving as a private chef , but his path, much like many others took an unexpected turn and he wound up having to seek treatment for addiciton. Patrick was client number 22 to admit to The Refuge when it was opened in 2003 and it was his time in treatment, that led him back to The Refuge to apply for a job and become the first alumni ever hired. He has since taken this job and turned it in to a lengthy career that has impacted the lives of thousands of clients who have been through the program.

In 2015 Patrick and his team launched weekly cooking classes for the clients as a part of the new, more in-depth life skills program. “ I wanted to develop these classes for the clients to have fun, escape treatment for a little while, learn a new skill and have something to show and enjoy at the end of the day” says Cahill. Since this program began clients have made sushi, empanadas, crab cakes and a number of other creative dishes. “I strive for greatness. I am constantly thinking what I can do to make our clients experience the best it can be. The food was horrible when I was in treatment, I want everyone who leaves this place to rate the food and their experience with the kitchen as five-star” Patrick is passionate about the culinary program at The Refuge and says he “wants the clients to look forward to a good meal every day”. Patrick’s passion and dedication have led his team to become some of the most loved and respected in the industry. He is an intigral part of The Refuge staff and the clients experience would not be the same without him.