ambassadors

The Burnt Chef Ambassadors support us by promoting our work as widely as possible and encourage more people to support The Burnt Chef Project.

 

They are committed to making a difference within the trade and have undergone formal mental health training so that they can continue to stamp out mental health stigma.

Want to become an ambassador? First read our info sheet then scroll down to apply.

Andy Lennox

  • LinkedIn

"I personally haven't had any periods of ill mental health but over the last 15 years in the trade I have experienced everything there can be from mild symptoms through to full hospitalisation.

Mental health in the industry is a BIG problem; finding that support for our staff has been really hard. The Burnt Chef Project is the perfect solution. A mental health product that Kris has

developed in the industry; for the industry"

Mark McCabe

  • Instagram

"I've been working as a chef for the last 6 years and now hold the position of Head Chef at a beautiful restaurant in Somerset called The Ethicurean.

 

I've always struggled with anxiety and phobias, particularly in my teens and early 20s and whilst I have learned how to coexist with them they never go away.

 

I would love for the hospitality industry to ditch it's macho, almost military emphasis and for it to fully accept that chefs are people rather than machines. For the industry to find a way to pay employees what they are worth and to find a system which allows people to have a life away from work.

The Burnt Chef Project is an important cause and one that is very close to my heart and I'm very happy to be an ambassador."

Sophie Cox

  • LinkedIn

"I have been in the Hospitality Industry my entire working career and those who know me know that I eat, sleep and breathe my work, which is true of everyone in our world. 

I was given my first Senior Ops role in 2016 and one of my biggest personal accolades was being awarded a Caterer Acorn for the 30 Under 30 Hospitality Professionals in the UK in 2018

Needless to say, working in this 24/7 industry doesn't come without its sacrifices and I have struggled with the work/life balance saga for as long as I can remember. Stress and anxiety are things which come hand in hand with an industry which simply does not sleep and there are countless silent suffers out there.

It's absolutely vital that we increase awareness around the subject of mental health in our arena and the Burnt Chef Project promises to do exactly that."

James Burger

  • Instagram

"I have been in the trade for 14 years including 3 years in Westminster Kingsway College.

I have probably suffered from stress and anxiety for about 8 years but only really acknowldged it in the last year. I always put it down to me just being an angry chef or not coping. The stress of having to leave a job due to anxiety ultimately led to depression which I have been working with for about 6 months now.

I would hope that soon spotting the signs of poor mental health will be included in basic training and allowances will be made to better support those in need of time out."

Adam Simmonds

  • Instagram

"I have been in the trade for 30 years working in  some great kitchens that taught me so much. I have been very fortunate to travel to some great countries and meet some great people. I was also very fortunate to take part in the Great British Menu for two years where I got to the banquet in 2014. I have achieved many accolades that I’m super proud of.

On the back of constantly striving for perfection, the stress of the job to be at the level that I wanted to be was a price to my mental health. I could not see it at the beginning but I realised the impact it was having over time. This was all due to not really talking about it in the military kitchen environment where you couldn't show weakness.

It got to a point where I was using drink and drugs on a daily basis to hide from the reality of what was going on with mental health. I couldn’t speak up and I lost so much at that time, my relationship, and my soul. I was just surviving and I had hit rock bottom and was completely broken until I got help  through Cocaine Anonymous which also meant that I could look at my mental wellbeing and, in turn, a better life. It’s so much different today. I am able to talk about my mental health and be proud that I don’t need to bottle it up any more.

I support the project because it is about standing up and saying that it is ok to speak up and not be judged for saying that you are struggling. It shows so much strength to speak out and you should not be ashamed. The Industry needs to change and embrace what goes on in the environment. We as an industry need to change by looking out for the people that serve our great profession. It can only start from the Owners, CEOS and all the way down to the General Managers and the Floor Managers. I love this industry that I have been a part of for so long. The Burnt Chef Project is seriously making massive waves to raise awareness and instigate change. I couldn’t not support it!"

Matt Budden

  • Instagram

"I have been involved in the hospitality on a national and international level for over 20 years working in a variety of Michelin star hotels, independent restaurants and corporate hotel brands

I have witnessed many mental health issues that our industry faces and am glad to see that we are finally addressing these issues through initiatives which are aimed at not just addressing on an individual basis but leading the way in giving people the tools on how to recognise the signs and how to resolve and manage the issues.

I have had several chefs within my teams that have had mental health issues, we have put together working best practices on how we can help the chefs deal with these issues on a daily basis and understanding that there is not always a 'solution' but an emphasis on managing the triggers which can cause issues. Together we can change perceptions of mental health within the industry we all love!"

Alex Monty

  • Instagram

"I started off in hospitality as a kitchen porter and I loved the kitchen work. After a year I worked my way up through the kitchen and have been a chef for 4 years now and even though I am still new to this industry I have dealt with friends and co-workers who have struggled with mental health issues due to the pressure that is placed on them in this industry.

 

The Burnt Chef Project will be a massive help for everyone in the hospitality industry from chefs to waiters, allowing them to know there is help available and that it’s not a sign of weakness but a sign of empowerment! 

 

I wanted to do this so I can help people in hospitality but to also show the thick skinned chefs that actually there are things wrong in the industry and to address it but to also prevent others from feeling the same way by educating chefs!"

Darryl Quested

  • Instagram

"I have been in the catering industry for around 18 years now, but I've suffered with GAD and depression for much longer.

Dealing with these conditions whilst working in such a brutal industry; both for hours and sometimes attitudes and stigma, is extremely challenging, I'm lucky enough to have such an incredibly supportive partner at home that keeps me grounded, which I'm so thankful for.

I've seen too many great chefs quit their roles or worse because of mental health issues, which is why The Burnt Chef Project is so important.

Things have definitely improved since I first started in the industry and attitudes have mostly become less toxic, but there's still far too much discrimination and stigma and we all still have a lot of work to do to."

Alice Bowyer

  • LinkedIn

"I have unfortunately seen many chefs suffer in silence or with great outburst that led to quitting, with their mental health issues. The pressure within our industry is relentless. It is with great sadness I know I have lost talented chefs because we were too unaware of how they felt and more importantly, why.

 

It’s incredibly frustrating that young men are deemed strong by some because they do not show emotion as much as it is that women are seen as weak because they are not ‘man enough’ to be in the kitchen. I want to break this stigma and create a friendly, open, gender balanced environment for our chefs to be comfortable to talk, to be happy in their work and thrive creatively."

Tom Green

  • Instagram

"I got my first taste of a real kitchen at 15 when I was lucky enough to do a work experience placement at a 2*, 23 years later & I’ve never looked back.  I’ve been able to use my skills as a chef to travel the world, ive cooked for endless interesting individuals, Royalty and quite a few plonkers too.

 

For a lot of my career I epitomized the phrase work hard/play hard, I burnt the candle at both ends and many times in the middle as well just for good measure.  I always needed a release for all that passion, pressure and energy that flowed through me & I found that through drinking and partying without ever taking the time to question why I seemed to have this self-destruct button. I’ve lost a few work colleagues to suicide along the way & although have never had those thoughts myself I have been very conscious my mental health as taken beating after beating over the years whilst I always managed to put on a sterling game face.

 

I have battled my own fair share of demons and I've learnt to manage my work life balance so much better, I’m a better dad to my amazing son, I have more energy & my outlook on life is continually evolving. I jumped at the opportunity to help Kris with launching the Burnt chef project in Bristol and am extremely excited to see the continual positive effect it is having in assisting change in the hospitality industry."

Nikoleta Theofylaktidou

  • Instagram

"When I came across the Burnt Chef Project I immediately become interested as it resonated with me having been in the industry for 6 years ( 2 years as FOH, 3 as a student chef at Westminster Kingsway College and currently working in a hotel).

As I am at the start of my journey as a chef I think it is really imperative for young chefs to be aware of their mental health and be able to identify any signs or symptoms because this industry can be extremely tough with long hours and high expectations. Knowing all the above at the start of the career can prevent many negative consequences in the future. 

This industry loses many talented people due to them feeling that they won’t be able to cope and me being one of them as I found challenging the transition from college to work. It is essential to be aware of your human rights and put self-care as a top priority and choose an environment where you can thrive, challenge yourself and be happy. 

Being a woman in this industry, I feel is also important to highlight that there is still sexism present is some kitchens and women are still looked down on and not seen as strong or able as men to undertake the same tasks. This can also lead to mental health issues and a feeling of not being good enough. 

It is very exciting to be an ambassador for The Burnt Chef Project to help decrease the mental health issues in hospitality."

Apply to become an ambassador
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