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.
"Hi there, my name is Oliver Grieve, but all my friends and colleagues call me Oli. I’ve been working in the hospitality industry for the past two and half years since I started working as a Kitchen Porter at the age of 16 whilst studying for my A-levels.
Initially I had no intentions of wanting to stay in the hospitality industry, however after working in a gastro style pub called ‘St John’s Tavern’ in North London I fell in love with gastronomy and kitchen work. The fact that all of our stock was bought fresh, and all our produce was made with such care and passion, it made me appreciate gastronomy on another level.
The Chefs I worked alongside inspired me and influenced me into deciding that I wanted to become a Chef, and hopefully a great one at that. During my A-levels I spent the majority of my time looking through cooking videos and series, such as ‘Binging with Babish’, ‘Ugly Delicious’ & “The Chef Show’ online rather than focusing on my subjects (Biology, Chemistry, and History). This was because I actually enjoyed studying food culture and food preparation techniques, learning about it genuinely made me happy.
To be completely honest, my A-levels had put me in a very very bad place when it came to my mental health. I was suffering with my anxiety and depression worse than I ever had, to the extent I sought out professional help. However realistically this hadn’t offered much help. The way I managed to get through my struggles with my mental health was through working in St John’s Tavern after school on a Friday. The best part of my week was finishing school at 3:30pm after Chemistry, rushing home from Camden, getting changed and running up to the pub for my shift to start at 4:00pm.
Although it was a very draining job, working 8 hours straight up until closing after being at school all day, it was still the best part of my week. It was where I was actually able to learn about what I was beginning to become passionate about, and that was very new and exciting for me. This developed over the two years I worked there.
The Chefs I worked with saw I was eager to learn and began to give me more responsibility, moving me up towards the starters, grill and fryers where I could practice learning new skills. After deciding I didn’t want to go on to study a scientific related course at university such as biochemistry I searched for a Culinary Degree that would suit me. In February 2020 I applied to do Culinary Arts Management BA at University College Birmingham.
Currently I’m in my first year, and absolutely loving life. Working part time at Craft Dining rooms in Birmingham as a Commis Chef, learning more and more every time I go into work. I was first introduced to The Burnt Chef Project working here as all the staff wear the ‘F*ck Stigma* T-shirts as their uniform, and since researching their motive I wanted to support as much as I can."
I have been in the hospitality industry for around 10 years. My love of food and working with my hands have taken me far in kitchens.
Working in this industry is tough. It gives you a lot and seems to take a lot more, more than we want to at times. Having the tools to navigate this environment is essential to surviving and thriving as a cook.
This year especially has been taxing on my mental health. Cook has both harmed and helped me get through the tough times. I am living proof that with help, a little research, practice, and resilience anyone can get through the dark days.
Hi I am Olivier, I have worked in Hospitality for over 25 years, in 2 countries, I'm now headchef in Devon. The hospitality Industry can be incredibly stressful and the nature of the industry means you always strive to do better and be better. This brings its own problems. The pressure of the industry can mean that it’s hard to switch off.
I have experienced mental health issues, and I do find it hard to switch off and look after my mental health. I have witnessed other friends and colleagues who suffer with mental health issues and I believe we can erase the stigma if we all talk about it openly and support and help each other. I have found myself struggling with my mental health at points in my career, especially when I thought the food that I was producing was not good enough and have very often put myself under extra pressure to please everyone.
Talking about your mental health has not only helped me but colleagues and friends in the Industry, who have at times been struggling and didn’t know where they could get help or even find someone to talk to.
This Charity is exactly what the Industry needs. Mental Health should not be a stigma which is brushed under the carpet, but we need two keep talking about it and the fact it's ok for you to say “ I need help”. It’s nothing to be ashamed of and I am delighted to be part of this amazing project.
Hi, I am Stuart Conibear and I have been a chef in the Catering Industry for over 30 years now, working in top establishments throughout the UK inclusive of Royal Households and alongside Celebrated Chefs.
When I started out along this career path, kitchens were a seriously Militant demanding environment to be in. Long, pressurised hours, constant abuse and struggles to reach perfection in every dish produced.
Thankfully this is not the environment we work in today and immense changes have been made over the past two decades but still not enough has been done to raise the awareness of Mental Health within the industry.
I have witnessed to many chefs succumb to depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol abuse, personal breakdowns.
We all need to talk more, support each other and come out of the darkness.
I am proud to be standing alongside other chefs in joining the cause of The Burnt Chef Project to help to raise the awareness.
"Hi there my name is Wayne Barnard and I am ambassador for the Burnt Chef Project.
I have been in the hospitality industry for
22 years and I love what I do and would not change it for the world. It is everything to me.
As soon as I stepped into a kitchen I knew this was it, it was my home away from home and somewhere I could be free to evolve, progress and push myself as well as achieve goals.
I work hard for myself and my family and kids.
One thing I have noticed in my time in the industry is the lack of mental health awareness and how it develops from all different situations outside of work from family finance problems causing stress to relationships problems causing anxiety.
Working with the burnt chef project I've learnt a lot more to notice signs in myself and work colleagues and friends and family so let's support each other, take time with yourself and others to talk openly to everyone or just be there to listen.
If people are not comfortable in talking about what is going on some times just to be there to listen can be enough."
"I’m Phil, 29 years old from Nottinghamshire. Like a lot of people, my experience in kitchens started behind the sink. Whilst pursuing a career in teaching and education, I was lucky enough to work part-time and ad-hoc in local pub and café kitchens, building skills and working with amazing and talented people. Fast-forward to summer 2019 and I took the plunge and entered the industry full time.
As I am writing this, we are facing the worst pandemic in living memory. A situation that has brought an industry that I have quickly become fond of to its knees. I know I’ve been worried about what the future holds and I’m sure I’m not the only one. With mental illness already rife within hospitality, it is more important than ever that we support each other and end mental health stigma. I look forward to working with The Burnt Chef Project and doing my bit any way I can"
"As a culinary professional for over 25 years, I've worked closely with folks from a wide variety of backgrounds, many of whom, like myself, suffer from mental and chemical health issues exacerbated by the nature of “kitchen culture.”
Since 2017, I've maintained Facebook group CulinaRecovery so hospitality workers know that the conversation around improving our industry is ongoing; and that the fight for a safe and sane workplace is NOT OVER YET!
As a certified Peer Recovery Support Specialist, I focus my attention on restaurants, where I believe foodservice and human services intersect. I'm passionate about helping lead the industry toward a future where human sustainability is a primary consideration. I believe we save lives when we kill stigma. I am proud of my own journey in recovery; away from excessive use of substances, codependency, and workaholism and toward mental, emotional, and occupational sobriety.
I share my story so people see that tools are available to them, wherever they are at. I trust that through mentorship and peer support, the hospitality industry can create healthier workplaces, and that people won't have to leave their profession to live well."
My Name is Eugene Nyaundi, I have been fortunate enough to be in the industry since I was 22 ,started out as a food critic ,to become a chef at some of the finest establishments in east Africa such as the Elewana collection where I rose in ranks to help in developing and writing of new menus. .
It was not until I joined the drinks side of the industry that I exposed myself to the dark side of things. I got exposed to not just the training but how the abuse of alcohol was rampant in the industry. It was not until when I actually i got to hospital and the doctors put me under mandatory break that my health which was declining ,had to change.
Given that I decided to resolve and change, in the beginning it was hard to but thanks to countless friends in the industry such as Cami Vidal, Lauren Paylor, Kristin Bocchino and Tim Ethrighton that I got through it. It is my core belief that we need to educate and remind people of better ways to be mindful to self and to others in order to better the industry.
Now running a botanical farm where i seek to project and educate the community on wellness and mindfulness It is my hope that through it we can not only focus on mindfullness but also focus on the very basis that Farming saves Hospitality.
The Burnt Chef Project is such an amazing platform. It raises awareness of the mental health aspect and gets that people matter. I would love to be more involved and help to spread the word and continuing to focus on the people who need support.
Therefore, I have signed up to be an ambassador of the Burnt Chef, I want to help raise awareness of mental health and well-being. Chefs and Drinks professionals stick together and if we can’t look after each other, who will.
I believe in this great cause and I believe in Hospitality.
To reach me out you can find me through Bishopbotanyfarm.
Ian Mark (Bear)
"I’ve worked in the hospitality trade for over 20 years, I have been involved in some intense pressures from competing with the English National Team to TV competitions and I’ve seen first-hand the outcome, long hours and intense working conditions, has on us, chefs.
Unfortunately, it has sent people down a road that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I have seen with my own eyes the effects that’s why I am here.
The Burnt Chef Project is Such an amazing platform. It raises awareness of the mental health aspect and gets that people matter. I would love to be more involved and help to spread the word and continuing to focus on the people who need support.
Therefore, I have signed up to be an ambassador of the Burnt Chef, I want to help raise awareness of mental health and well-being. Chefs need to stick together and if we can’t look after each other, who will.
I believe in this great cause and I believe in chefs, we can do this!”
Werner J Hartholt
"I've been in the industry for over 30 years now. I've worked with many chefs in 3 countries and many kitchens. The one thing I've learned about working with chefs is that everyone has their own life. When chefs come into work, you don't know what kind of day they've had. You can work in a team with many chefs, some of whom have families and kids that wake them up early, others whom have noone apart from their colleagues in their lives at that moment in time or they have a partner who doesn't get why the chef puts so much time and effort into the job. They all have their own ups and downs. The majority of the time they just want someone that listens to them, just someone to hear them, other times they don't want to be heard at all. It's not always easy to gauge this. But you never know someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes. And for me, to realise this after many years helps me to help others. This realisation helps me to get the best out of people. People work for people, in every walk of life.
The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh said:
When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don't blame the lettuce.
You look for reasons it is not
doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun.
You never blame the lettuce.
Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other
person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce.
Blaming has no positive
effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument.
That is my experience. No blame, no
reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can
love, and the situation will change."
"I've worked in the industry for over 12 years now, both in the UK and overseas. Mental health issues are absolutely everywhere in our industry and it can be quite difficult to tackle such problems. Be it through talking to a friend, a professional or even just acknowledging that there is a problem to begin with.
I lost a friend this past year to poor mental health. That person always spoke and acted upon their own mental well being and yet somewhere along the line it wasn't enough.
I've struggled myself in recent years and I don't want to see any more chefs have their lives cut too short through their own mental health. This industry is hard and relentless enough without having to deal with your own mental health in silence and on your own.
Working with each other to get through issues and problems is the only way we're going to keep doing what we love. Good cooking and excellent food."
"I've been in the industry for 16 years and seen all walks of life. The pressure a kitchen is under on a daily basis can play a major part in a person's mental strength. I've seen young chefs walk through the door fresh faced and keen and within a short period burnt out under the pressure.
I've witnessed grown men cry as they watch their families fall apart whilst they slave away at the stove for 14 hours of the day with no rest days.
Mental health has become a big factor in my life and the wellbeing of the colleagues and friends and family I have around me. I strongly feel that as a collective we can bring this stigma of mental health to its knees and help people reach out and reduce the fear of being judged or feel singled out.
We stand together let's look out for our brothers and sisters colleagues and friends. Being a young chef in an industry where perfection and precision runs deep in the veins of every man in the kitchen striving to be the best puts a lot of pressure on each and every individual.
Every member of the team is like a family member we spend so much time together having each others backs is so important."
I have worked within the hospitality industry for over 18 years. Working both FOH & Kitchen. It's an industry that requires long hours and a lot of passion for what often feels like little reward. An industry that can often lead to unhealthy habits such and drugs, alcohol and not a lot of sleep.
As someone who has battled with depression throughout the 18 years within this industry, I feel it is important that more of us open up, talk about it and support one another. Running 3-5 times a week helps break the monotony of living where I work and being able to switch off from work for at least 30mins.
I entered the hospitality industry late in life, 6 years ago to be precise at 43. I had a traumatic experience as a security officer and knew a change in career was needed. I was diagnosed with PTSD and struggled with my mental health for a number of years. I have worked my way up to become Head Chef in a 40 room Country House Hotel, right in the centre of Ireland.
I stumbled across The Burnt Chef Project while researching a project for college. It lit a spark in me at the time to make Mental Health discussions more open with in my workplace. I’ve never hidden the fact that I’ve had problems, seeked counselling and practice Mindfulness quiet often. With everything that life has to throw at us, it went to the back of mind again until lately. I bbq as a hobby and set up an account on Instagram and again stumbled on The Burnt Chef Project.
I promised myself that this time was going to be different, and I was going to help spread the word. I feel if I can help only one person to open up, to admit it’s ok not to be ok, then I’d given something back to the industry that I love. Through training I saw what my wife has been telling me for months, I was stressed. My typical answer of “ I’m grand" wasn’t what I used this time. I was able to use the tools to ease my stress and return to a somewhat normal day to day life.
My Culinary journey has been unconventional to say the least. To begin my love of food is the best place to start; for as long I could breathe cooking has been an ecstasy from a toddler to now its something that completely and utterly makes me happy.
To get my where I am I first began in modest small cafes and care homes before eventually I made the move to London to further my knowledge. London is where I came into my own under impeccable guidance and tutelage from world class chefs. From Quaglinos to the Claridges the journey has been splendid. I am very lucky to live my dream each and every day.
On a personal note I'm no stranger to mental health I can honestly testify from experience at times in my career I have suffered from anxiety attacks and know full well how difficult kitchens can be especially without proper procedures in place to support those who need it most.
Now more than ever we need support and break down the stigma of Mental Health. The bravest and most noble thing one can do is overcome ones own inner battles.
“ I’m Joe, I’m 26 and just reached 10 years in the hospitality industry as of April 2020.
I have friends who I now refer to as family and vice versa all because of this industry, I have so much to thank it for. It gave me a chance when no other trade would, but in the same breathe surrounded a lot of the worst time I could’ve imagine endeavouring.
I’ve struggled from time to time as a result. Family, relationships, money, various substance abuse, work place harassment/bullying. To name but a few. I remember I’d worked out that as a result of that I hadn’t spent a Christmas with my family from 2014 to 2019 as a result of over working and not giving myself the time I deserved or taking time away from the job. And every year I got home, drink a beer, eat very little and shortly went to sleep as I’d usually had agreed to work the next day.
I think amongst all the stigma that does 100% surround this industry. My advice would be above all the other remarkable bits of advice we should all take is that what got me through is those close friends who’ve always stuck by me to answer a text or phone call whenever I needed it. you need to talk to someone. It does help.
And that you should always look out for number 1. Use your time off for you, for your family, partner, friends. And learn to take a step back from time to time. It’ll do you good.
I think that’s the real message from me, when you meet those fellow chefs throughout your career. Likeminded, caring, passionate chefs and hospitality staff alike, all those colourful personalities. It really does help to connect with them. Because they’ll be the first ones to answer when you need it. You create what I think many will agree is a second family.
That’s why I love what this charity represents, and still so many more people need to hear about it and that why I’m proud to be apart of it, to help spread the word!”
"My name is Alex, I’m 24 years old and I’m a professional Pastry
Chef, recently started a new job at Dunkeld House Hotel in Scotland.
In my career so far I’ve worked in many different kitchen environments, seeing my fair share of dismissive and harassive behaviours,
After experiencing Anxiety in the past and present I wish to spread more about mental health in the workplace. I hope to support many people to open up about their own struggles and help them gain more confidence and self-esteem in the Catering industry. So I’m
thrilled to now be part of the Burnt Chef project."
"Having spent over 30 hard years in the catering industry, pretty much all of them behind the stoves. I have pretty much seen and done it all. I have worked in a local pub, a private school, 5 star hotels you name it I’ve done it. But 1 thing links all these establishments together and that is the people that choose to work in such an environment. If you ever do list of the pros and cons of working in a professional kitchen you will probably see a pretty barren pros column, I know I did.
Look at the hours, the shift patterns, the weekends, the family time lost, and the lack of a social life etc.etc. none of these are a good selling point for the industry but the industry is full of people who willingly throw themselves into it, and let’s be honest …we love it!
Somethings in the industry will never change, late walk-ins, busy weekends, staff shortage or a broken oven, these things are here to stay and there is not much we can do about it, but what we can and are doing is talking about our mental health, something that is very close to my heart having suffered in silence for so long it is incredible that us chefs are throwing the stigma of mental health in the bin and we are now starting to talk about.
Our mental health is so important and as chefs we are used to our teams being like our second families so we should feel comfortable talking to each other about it. When I started cooking I wouldn’t have dared spoken about the problems I was having so I suffered, but those days are gone for good so come on guys let’s talk!"
"I started my culinary journey straight out of school at the age of 16, after attending Westminster Kingsway College I had the privilege to work in the some of the most renowned establishments in London with the most talented chefs, I will be eternally great-full to the college for setting me on this amazing path and showing me continued support along the way. Now is my time to give back, the amount of diversity and creativity you find in hospitality alone is what motivates me to make sure there is a constant development to already beautiful industry.
I personally have experienced the immense pressure and struggles that can come with a life spent in the kitchen and I am so happy to become an ambassador to this amazing project, to spread awareness and help any others struggling. Being able to identify signs of mental health is crucial for us all, simple encouragement to speak out could help save a life. Educating ourselves is vital.
The stigma around mental health is something that needs to be broken and now more than ever it is important for people to speak up and feel supported.
Together with charities like The Burnt Chef project we can beat the stigma, show strength and educate. I can’t wait to see what’s to come and I pledge my constant support. Let’s start talking."
After my apprenticeship in Switzerland, where I was born and raised, I did have the chance to work in the Caribbean for an extended period of time. Now I am permanently in the United States where I work as an Executive Chef.
Working through the ranks in a kitchen and ultimately becoming an Executive Chef was an essential part of my professional career.
I have witnessed an industry that has been through some big changes over the last couple of decades which I have experienced first-hand. Fighting with drug and alcohol abuse myself over a period of time I have become sober, however still fight with anxiety and depression. Therefore, I can relate to a lot of the issues our people in this profession are facing. Long work hours, unbalanced life can have a detrimental impact on once life.
I would be proud to be an ambassador for The Burnt Chef project and its mission and help our community of chefs to fight this stigma. You are not alone!
Many survivors insist they’re not courageous: ‘If I were courageous I would have stopped the abuse.’ ‘If I were courageous, I wouldn’t be scared’… Most of us have it mixed up. You don’t start with courage and then face fear. You become courageous because you face your fear.” ― Laura Davis
"I fell in love with the hospitality industry 18 years ago. Perhaps that’s because I was born with the spirit to serve people and I’ve never lost that...
Fighting my way up
I’ve worked my way up from a commi, sweeping floors in a bakery to a Private Chef Consultant. My journey as a chef has taken me all over the world but there was a price to pay for those extremely long, demanding, unsociable hours, working six and seven day weeks, not knowing when you’ll have time to recoup. A complete lack of holiday time, no time for myself or my family and friends, which made it impossible to create a balance in my life.
I kept sacrificing areas of my life and jet-setting because that was ingrained in me. The excitement and adrenalin rush of exploring a new country and its cuisine – working in hotels, restaurants, cruise ships, yachting and ending up in Palaces. BUT it’s not the glory its cut out to be. I went through sexual harassment, racism, bullying and eventually breaking down because of the management I worked under.
As a woman I’ve always had to work harder to prove myself and get my position and respect within the team.
The price I paid
My mental health has suffered. I’ve had PTSD from jobs I’ve done. Dealing with bipolar staff, micro managing clients and managers left me questioning my own abilities and confidence.
I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety on and off. There’s been anger, mood swings, taking the road down the alcohol and drug route to numb the pain and keep me pushing forward.
The pressure and mental health issues I struggled with increased the higher up the ladder I climbed. My health deteriorated due to the stress of the positions I’ve held as a chef and not eating properly - more gobbling on the go. I’ve seen my colleagues deteriorate mentally. I’ve had one of my junior chefs self-harm and attempt suicide. Without the proper training it was a challenging time and there has been no support until now.
What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candour, and more unashamed conversation.” — Glenn Close
Not long ago I pushed myself to the point of complete burn out, emotionally, physically and mentally. Now I hope I can empower others to step up and join this incredible movement and to speak out, knowing they’re not alone.
Turning coronavirus into a positive
Whilst Covid-19 has been no joy ride for any of us, it afforded me the opportunity to study and work on areas of my life I’d never had the chance to do. One of these areas is being given the opportunity to work with the Burnt Chef Project, and I’m really grateful for the resource they’ve made available. I realised I wanted to help other chefs in the private service sector and raise awareness in my network. I believe in paternalistic leadership to change the stigma and create a new ‘workplace culture’ that nurtures and supports the team.
Moving into culinary medicine
I’ve chosen to enter the health and wellness sector and focus on culinary medicine. My goal is to help people reach good personal decisions, eating high quality meals and beverages to help, prevent and treat disease. This is something chefs don’t do for themselves - restore wellbeing; to return to a state of being nurtured, nourished and feeling whole.
It’s an honour to be an Ambassador for the Burnt Chef Project, and I strongly believe in educating our industry on a global level. I look forward to collaborating with Kris and his team in the near future to change this industry that we all love so much. Let’s keep igniting our passion and creativity and most of all - be courageous and kind"
"I'm Jake, I'm 22,I have always wanted to be a chef and have been in the industry for about 5 years now.
I love eating, cooking and experimenting, with food, that's what drew me in. When I was just starting out the unsociable long hours and hard work appealed to me too.
I had one mental health lesson at college and that was it. It didn't teach me how to talk about my mental health and it didn't teach me how to deal with it. It's something that everyone should be educated on properly from the start.
I'm not ashamed to say that I cried one Christmas eve in front of my family due to mental health. I'm not ashamed to say that I had a breakdown in the work toilets mid service, and the owner wanted to fire me if I didn't come out. Thats the only way I could deal with it, I didn't have the tools or knowledge to know a better way, but now I do. I'm proud to have recovered from that and am ready to help anyone that needs it
The fact that a restaurant can be such a close brother and sisterhood of talented people, but at the same time a hostile, angry, macho, tense and stressful environment paints a frustrating picture.
A work life balance is essential, and talking about mental health needs to be seen as a strength not a weakness. I am proud to be part of the burnt chef project, the industry needs to be destigmatized and i can't wait to get involved, it's ok not to be ok, I think that's the key point here."
"I've been a chef for roughly 6 years now. Working my way through the ranks, and proving myself. Quite literally living and breathing work, never shutting down from it. I've put my hand out to many people, just so they can grab it and have that support. After losing a close friend to Mental Health, I just knew something had to change. Which is when I stumbled across The Burnt Chef Project, which I've been supporting since I was made aware of it. The Stigma in the industry has to change, and to see everyone standing up to it, is so heart warming.
After fighting my own battles, I lost myself and I spiraled. If it wasn't for my work family, I would not be here writing this. So take that as a message to reach out."
"I have been a chef for 10 years now and cooking since I could reach the kitchen counter tops. I have worked my way up through the ranks in many different establishments. Being a chef and the hospitality industry means everything to me. I have made some life long friends and developed as a person so much due to the industry.
It has not been with out its fair share of hardship suffering from mental health myself for a number of months. This charity is exactly what was needed when I was suffering as I encountered a lot of stigma within the industry. We need to end the stigma around mental health and support our industry family "
"I have worked in the hospitality industry for the last 10 years from the bottoms to the tops, from the small business to a huge catering company, from a takeaway shop to Michelin starred restaurants.
I myself find it is very hard to manage to have work and life going in the same direction at some point in the industry, the only friends I have had are people from work, or in the kitchen. They are the best people, however, we all are all struggling at the same thing. Long working hours, stress, anxiety, bullying, discrimination, brutal pressures, injuries, etc. All of which leads to unhealthy habits including depression, breakdowns, drugs and alcohol consumption.
I personally think that everyone need to speak about this more. No one should ever be alone in any circumstances in this industry. I and my team are strongly supported the burnt chef project and so on to make the industry stronger and better. I love my life as a chef and I want everyone in the industry see it the same way I do. “
"With more than 15 years of experience in the hospitality industry, I have seen some amazing places, travelled the world, and made some lifelong friends. The industry has evolved massively since I started as a teenager and it is becoming an even better place to work, especially as restaurants and hotels are really starting to care for their staff and initiatives like The Burnt Chef Project are taking off.
Having worked in every kind of kitchen imaginable, from local pubs to high-end VIP locations, I can say that the demands and toll cheffing can take on your mental health can happen anytime, anywhere, no matter where you are in your career. I have had my own journey with mental health and look forward to sharing my experiences and giving back to the industry as part of The Burnt Chef Project. We can all relate to the unique stressors, anxiety and pressures we can face in and out of the kitchen - and by talking about them, we can keep our fellow chefs from going through it alone."
"I’m Lara Norman, a young passionate cook from Ibiza.
Ever since I could crawl my favourite place to be would always be the kitchen. I am grateful to have a job where I can make people happy through food and offer an escape from reality through the palette. Cooking is a never ending learning path and that is the beauty of it. It’s important that we learn from each other’s journeys and explore all the different culinary cultures. I believe that our mistakes are our biggest tools and learning from them is the only way to move forward in this magical culinary journey.
I started working in hospitality when I was a teenager. I started working in small, local restaurants and bakeries, making my way up to magical Michelin-starred ventures through hard work, passion and sacrifices. I’ve met some inspiring souls and mentors along this journey that have made me mentally and physically stronger not just in the kitchen but also for when I’m away from the stoves. Let’s not lie to ourselves, we are all adrenaline junkies at heart or we wouldn’t be in this industry. But I have also experienced first-hand what the negative aspects of working in such a high-pressure environment.
The pure silenced anxiety, disrespect, poor diet and lack of sleep seem like a very dated and unnecessary mentality to have in this day and age. It is not a smart discipline to have if you want to get one hundred percent out of your team. Many people in the industry are negatively affected by this but are too afraid to speak out on these issues.
Mental health is an issue that should be spoken about out loud. I’m honoured to be part of this collective of chefs uniting together to fight against this silenced stigma."
"I have been involved in the culinary industry for years--working my way up through the ranks and earning more than a few scars along the way. I now own and operate a restaurant that I get to call my own.
None of the work has been without sacrifice, but the work can come without being physically, emotionally and spiritually devoid of balance and happiness. Having experienced my own battles with anxiety and depression throughout my life, I find it refreshing to discover how frequently others will discuss mental health when there is more normalization, acceptance and resources in place of judgement.
Becoming an ambassador for others who may be experiencing challenging times is not only something I am passionate about, but it helps me eliminate the feeling of isolation that can come with hard work and long hours in a sometimes unforgiving industry.
Together, I trust we can take the steps necessary to eliminate the stigma."
"I have been in the industry 16 years working in a number of positions within multiple outlets, settings, properties and city’s up and down the country.
For those that know me also know that I live and breathe my work. Hospitality is by far the most rewarding and exciting industry to have a career in, however it does not come without sacrifices.
A career within a 24/7 environment means long hours & days and isn’t an easy feast for anyone. This has meant struggles with a work / life balance for as long as I have been working and resulted in many up’s and down’s along the way, something that will sound familiar to so many.
In an industry, where the spotlight is always on and the pressure to perform at the highest level is constant, stress and anxiety isn’t far.
Creating awareness, talking about mental health and eradicating the stigma is so important. ‘The Burnt Chef Project’ will change people’s lives and have such an important and positive impact on so many. Let’s eradicate the stigma as one!"
"I am an accomplished homecook who is passionate about food and hospitality. Whilst I don't work in hospitality myself many of my friends work across the board from Chef's and Restaurant Proprietors to the Bar and Event Industry.
I am a passionate leader and foodie, with over 15 years of working in business development with recognised brands. I believe that the conversation around mental health needs to be heard and listened to globally and across all industries and I want to utilise my experience and position to support the voice being heard."
"Having worked in the industry for 20 years I have seen how the industry has evolved and also I evolved with it. Over the twenty years I started working part time in a butchery with my mentor my grandfather, to my current role today as Executive chef for a unique concept in the capital.
It has been a whirlwind of complex and hard challenges, and I had a clear vision and direction I wished to follow. This is not the case for all and some need positive supported direction and mentoring. I have had failures along the way too, learning some hard but valuable lessons. I believe that what supported my success has been due to a consistent “FAMILY!!”culture and a remarkably understanding wife. Always having focus without compromise, maintaining transparency and integrity to myself and my teams.
I have had the privilege in my career in boutique hotels, Maze at Ramsay holdings & more recently Jamie Oliver, as a operations chef within in the UK opening new and exciting hospitality concepts & training people from all over Europe for nearly a decade.
Taking this experience I will create a culture, within my hospitality future that supports the colleagues in all aspects and vitally that helps our future talent to be drawn to and want to embark on a future into our industry.
We must strive to deliver balance that reflects on our physical and mental health positively. Our industry can also become a platform on food sustainability."
"I am from a small area called the Scottish Borders in Scotland. I started chefing when I was 16. I Have worked in hotels, pubs and restaurants/
Last few years I was battled depression being bullied and not having a life outside work and feeling sick about going into work. 7
Since then I said to myself enough is enough I found a new job that I love and came back as a winner thanks to my friends and family and work colleagues I now have my life back.
Now I am here to help people that deal with mental health and to let them know it is ok not to be ok and let them know about The Burnt Chef Project."
"I’ve been cooking since the age of 5; you could say cooking was sort of my first love. It’s something that’s always brought me so much joy, which is why it was so hard to see how broken I had become.
Working at one of the most prestigious kitchens in London from such a young age, is strangely isolating. I was part of an entire kitchen brigade, yet I felt entirely alone. I was burnt out, exhausted and constantly bewildered at how everyone around me continued to put themselves through this day after day. Lack of sleep, lack of self care, poor eating habits, it was bizarre, but we just kept on ‘pushing’.
I would catch myself think each and every day ‘If they could all do it, why couldn’t I?’
Every day I worked with the fear of knowing there was someone right behind me ready to take my position. Terrified to make a mistake or face being berated. The joy I had once felt turned to constant and crippling anxiety, followed by darker depression. As the days went on I felt more and more alone until I eventually hit my breaking point. My mental health deteriorated right before me, and before I knew it, it had spiralled out of control.
If I had or knew about the resources and support TBCP has developed, or the stigma had started to be challenged, I might not have felt so isolated.
I feel very passionate about the burnt chef project and hold it dear to my heart, I feel very fortunate, although a continuous development, to have had the ability to work through my mental health but the thought of others struggling with no-one to turn to has to come to an end. As an industry, our job must be to support, encourage and to teach, it must have equal importance.
I truly believe, if the industry, starting from the top down, begins to make small changes, the effects would be tremendous and we can all reach our fullest potential, both professionally and personally.
Mental health stigma has to become a thing of the past, it cannot continue to be brushed under the rug."
“I have been a hospitality professional for 16 years. Working in kitchens as a chef all over the south of England and the Channel Islands.
I have progressed from commis all the way to Head Chef
Hospitality is a way of life and couldn’t imagine my life without it. I’ve been lucky enough to meet my wife and make life long friends within the industry.
It’s not always been a smooth ride in the early days dealing with stress was having a drink. Been clean and sober for 7 years and counting!!
Together we will make mental health a topic of conversation!!”
"Hello, I am an accomplished chef with over 15 years industry knowledge. Wealth of experience in all aspects of the kitchen.
Successfully managing multiple outlets within the UK and abroad. I am currently the Executive Chef @ Impact Food Group
Owning a restaurant and managing multiple establishments over the years has given me a real insight into the industry.
I have worked with many chefs throughout my career, some which I believe I have helped and some which I only wish I could have.
I really want to use what I know now to help as many people as I can, making the mistakes and learning from them puts me in good stead for this! Oui Chef 👨🏻🍳 "
"I’m Martino Selleri, 30 years old and currently Head pastry chef at Galvin at Windows.
I’ve started my career quite late, compared to many others; after my degree in Italian Literature I decided to foster this passion, undertaking a professional diploma in one of the most important academies in Italy: Alma.
My love for everything sweet and my passion for learning brought me to kick-start my career in London where I had the chance to work in multiple Michelin starred restaurants alongside international-famous chefs.
During these years I’ve dedicated myself entirely to the kitchen, dealing with long shifts whilst fine-tuning my skills. Learning to work under pressure and striving for excellence, staying continuously focused with not enough sleep is not been easy at all; working in a pressurized environment at a young age and away from home, without the relief of the loved ones and under more stress than what you’re able to handle it’s been mentally and physically draining, having a huge impact on how I slept, ate, took care of myself and how I perceived whatever surrounded me.
As most of the chefs, I have taken my share, dealing with anxiety, depression and sexual discrimination but eventually overcame them by focusing on physical wellbeing, team sports and supported by friends.
Pastry slowly became a way to express myself and to comfortably communicate with others, sometimes better than I can do with words; as well as writing or drawing, plating is very much about giving yourself.
As young chefs, we are spokesman of a new approach to mental health, better working conditions and here to protect the new generation.
I’m at the same time proud and lucky to be a part of this inspiring community, that is doing so much to bring back the magic to this amazing sector by speaking up and eliminating the stigma."
"I was brought up in a pub restaurant from the age of one years old. I've worked in the trade all my life from pubs to a two star Michelin restaurant and everything in between.
I owned my own restaurant for 18 years and during this time developed stress, anxiety, depression and depended on alcohol for relaxation.
Ultimately a spinal injury ended this dream which brought the problems of prescription drugs into the mix. Now that’s all in the past I’m proud to be a multi award winning chef working for Compass Group, winning gold in the culinary Olympics 2020 among many other achievements.
I’m extremely proud to be a Burnt Chef Ambassador as I’m proof people can get through their issues and succeed and I can pass my knowledge and experience on to others to break the stigma through this amazing movement."
Stefan Mircea Negura
"My name its Stefan Mircea Negura.
I have been a chef for over 21 years and now I am Head Chef in East London.
This job, its so amazing, you have the opportunity to work with so many people but so hard in the same time.
Some of us have problems and some of us are so ashamed to deal with them or to be honest and share them.
Only together we can help and we can make our life easier. Depression and anxiety is a common problem and I deal with it as some of my colleagues are now. Only together we can become strong and I feel this group of people will help a lot. "
"I am proud to be able to play a part in the burnt chef project and the future it holds for the industry to give everyone a comfort blanket and say we heir you’ and we are here to support you along the way no matter how dark the moment. Kris is an inspiration and selfless to give it his all to help break the stigma within the industry that consumes our lives. Cooking is a lifestyle, job, hobby, passion, friend, partner and for a lot of us it’s what has formed the person we have become or will become. Being part of this world takes so much from us, but it also gives back if you have the right mindset and guidance.
I have had a very active and insightful 20 years in hospitality as a chef and I have been fortunate to have worked with a range of very talented inspiring chefs and businesses that have made me the man I am today, the challenges I faced because of this industry has had an unprecedented physical and mental strain on my life and taken me to some dark places that I would never want to revisit, that said’ I have come out stronger and more determined to become a better me and to help support the Burnt Chef Project and my team.
Together as “one” industry we will close in on unhealthy working environments, tackle mental and physical health stigmas and hopefully create more smiles, In my time as a chef and the many kitchens I have been in either multi accoladed or not I have seen things that shouldn’t happen in any industry to any human in any situation! but that said I have also seen the gradual change in the past few years of mutual respect from the bottom to the top and front and back of house coming together, this gives me faith.
The Burnt Chef Project will change people’s lives and I’m a strong believer that together we can help fight the stigma and grow a healthier industry.
“One and All”"
"I’ve wanted to be a chef as long as I can remember, and nothing gives me more pride than the perfectly executed dish. I went to catering college and have worked in the industry since.
My work is my passion and I give it my all. But it doesn’t come for free. There have been times where I’ve been plagued by anxiety, am I good enough? Will people want to eat here again? Will they leave a good review, or slate that dish I’ve spent hours perfecting. I’ve also struggled with periods of depression, the pressure of the industry can weigh heavy at times. I know I’m not alone in this.
This is why the Burnt Chef Project is so close to my heart. I believe this such a wonderful cause, and to know I’m not alone in this brings so much comfort. The work they do is inspiring. It’s time to break the stigma and spread to message. It’s okay to not be okay and it’s okay to talk and seek help. Now is the time for change in our industry and I am more than ready to support it."
"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."
"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!"
"I have been working in the industry for 13 years, starting as a KP and working my way up to Head Chef.
I've always been vaguely aware that poor mental health can affect anyone, but i never really thought it would happen to me. When I first spoke out at work about how I was feeling, the person I went to for help did not have the right skills, awareness or training to support me.
I struggled with depression and anxiety for almost a year. I don't know how, why or even exactly when it started, but the experience has changed me. I still have the occasional bad days, but the good massively outnumber the bad. I've discovered how I can try to help myself and let others help me. The positive changes began when I started talking. Through talking I realised I was far from the only one suffering with my mental health among my colleagues and friends.
I am hugely passionate about The Burnt Chef Project because I don't want anyone to feel the way I felt when I needed support and couldn't access it. I believe everyone should have some form of Mental Health awareness training in the workplace and have easy and clearly sign-posted access to professional help in whatever form that may take.
Mental health needs to be a subject everyone can talk about without the feeling of being judged. Poor mental health can affect anyone at any time and often without reason. As a Father of four I'd love to see the hospitality Industry lead the way in making mental health a priority in every workplace so that the next generation will never have to suffer in silence. I hope that in the future protecting mental health and safety will be seen as being equally as important as protecting physical health and safety at work.
F**k stigma, start talking!"
"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!"
"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"
"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."
"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."
"The hospitality industry is fantastic, hard, heart breaking, addictive, joyful and rewarding.
It builds strong resilient minds and characters but it can also break them in many different ways.
I’ve been a Chef for over twenty years, I would say I’ve experienced every emotion in that time and watched my colleges go through the same day in day out, supporting each other along the way as much as we can but we can’t do it alone.
The Burnt Chef Project is such a fantastic idea.
With the tools and support provided I feel that we can better equip support our colleges, identify issues earlier and at least try and break the stigma.
To be apart of a project that can do this is just such a great honour."
"Working as a chef is one of the most amazing careers. It’s exciting, creative, full of inspiring people and no day is ever the same. However having been a chef for a few years now I know how mentally and physically exhausting it can be. No one can realise the full extent until they actually work in a kitchen. The toll it can take on ones mental and physical health is undeniable.
That is why projects like The Burnt Chef Project are so incredibly important. Mental health is far too frequently not spoken about or ignored and feeling you have to suffer in silence is not ok. In an industry that strives for perfection the way it deals with mental health is far from perfect.
I feel very fortunate to be an ambassador for such a brilliant cause and want people who may be struggling within the industry to know you are not alone we are here to support you."
"As someone with close family and friends who suffer with mental health, I always try my best to help where I can to whoever requires it.
That is why the burnt chef project really resonates with me. Hospitality has been my life for the last 7 years and I am proud to be a chef.
Throughout those 7 years I have seen an large amount of chefs that are suffering needlessly and that must change.
Through help and proper training we can burn the stigma and win the fight against the industry. But we can only do this together. One brigade, one step at a time."
’’I have been working in hospitality for most of my career. I currently hold the position of head chef in a coastal restaurant in Shaldon, Devon.
I suffered from Mental Health issues in my early 20’s when I got my first senior position in the kitchen, Unfortunately I suffered in silence and had a breakdown. I wish The Burnt Chef Project was around then.
That is why I am very happy to be an Ambassador for the project, and together we raise awareness and end the stigma."
"Having served in the Military as a Chef for 23 years and having had the opportunities such a job provides, including representing the British Army and Combined Services at national and international catering competitions; stress has not been uncommon.
After a personal trigger a few years ago and a fight with depression and self-harm I was diagnosed with OCD, but not in the expected sense. I have OCD in ordering and planning, this coincides and often battles in my head with GAD, generalised anxiety disorder, together making life very interesting. Speaking out and gaining support from friends and family was the hardest but most beneficial step I’ve ever taken, this is my reason for Personally wanting to become involved in this project
Mental health stigma is the biggest negative within our industry and also within the Military, the Burnt Chef Project is a great concept of driving that out and supporting each other. Everyone has bad days, let’s help make them days a little easier"
"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!"
"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."
"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."
Cpl Chef Royal Air Force (RAF)
"I have been in the RAF for over 16 years. I have been a member of the Royal Air Force Culinary Arts Team (RAFCAT) for 8 years, in 2017 I was awarded the prestigious award of Best Male Chef. I am also a member of the Combined Culinary Art Team (CSCAT) for 4 years. I have been fortunate enough through CSCAT to represent the United Kingdom at the Culinary World Cup 2018 and Culinary Olympics 2020.
During my career I have suffered with anxiety and depression. At one stage it got so bad that I could not cope. I would mask my problems in front of others. I would go to work and pretend that everything was ok. Eventually I found the courage to speak up, I realised that talking can really help. I want to be apart of the Burnt Chef Project and help promote mental awareness within Military Catering. I want to be able to use my experiences to help others and support those who need it."
"I have been chef for over 10 years and now work for a private home as a chef.
I have seen a lot happen in the industry. From chefs having a breakdown right in the middle of a busy service, to seeing chefs loose their passion and love for the job and leaving the industry completely. The industry can literally suck the life out of us.
I have suffered with depression and anxiety for 15 years, have experienced a mental breakdown and have been at rock bottom.
Only if there was something then like the Burnt Chef Project! It would have made a complete difference. I know since I have been following them I can't stop talking about it to my friends and family. I get every chance I can to share the amazing work they do and I want to be part of this amazing project.
Something I will continue to support for a lifetime and together we will burn the stigma around mental health!"
"I have been working in kitchens for over 10 years now, with a career spanning from contract catering to 3 rosette establishments I now reside as the head chef of a hotel in Hampshire called Aviator.
When I first started out in this industry, it was always deemed a tough career. You had to work hard, you were told to take the knocks and the put downs as a normal part of learning. This is something I agreed with in principle, but I can’t say you often saw this done in a way that was helpful or constructive often it created fear and anxiety.
Poor mental health has been a part of my life, the mixture of the stress of professional kitchens whilst trying to maintain a home life has manifested itself as problems with stress anxiety and depression. The biggest strain being on the people we care about most.
When I took my first role as head chef, I realised the effect that my approach to work has on the people that I stand beside. This was now something I was responsible for.
Too many people believe that this is the way this work has to be the way in which we behave and carry ourselves is seen by some as a badge of honour. I know I have done this, but I know it isn’t right. Hopefully with the Burnt Chef Project we can start to address what we call normal and move in a more positive direction."
"I have been cooking for more than 20 years, since I was 15, and have felt the highs and lows of the hospitality life.
For the last couple of years I have been trying to find a balance of my love for food and my need to take on less stress. Kitchens are hot, we work long hours and are always on our feet. It's very unforgiving. That's why I believe we need proper change in the stigma of stress and mental health in the hospitality sector.
I am so proud to be an ambassador for The Burnt Chef Project, together we can support the industry's talent and achieve our goals. One step at a time, supporting each other as we go."
"I have been in the hospitality industry for 28 years working in a variety of establishments from 5 star exclusive hotels, Michelin star restaurants and large 5 Star multi outlet properties.
I am a Great British Master Chef, a Spring Board Future Chefs National Final Mentor and a judge.
I have met some amazing chefs along the way cooking for Charities such as The Keech Hospice and Childs liver disease. I am currently a Private Chef for high profile clients in Canada and run a and Catering and Events Company in GTA, Canada
I have struggled with depression since late teens and later progressed to a Bi Polar disorder. The pressure of working in luxury establishments that demand perfection as I did myself, the grueling hours and managing it day after day can take its toll on your mental health and with me led to alcohol and drug addiction.
After rehab I assessed my lifestyle, work place and family and made it a a happier, healthier and less stressful place to be.
I am very passionate about The Burnt Chef Project as I know first hand how hard it can to deal with mental illness in the hospitality industry and have always suffered in silence. Now it can be made aware of, addressed, moved forward and dealt with as it should be. No person should be embarrassed or afraid of mental illness or the stress that causes it."
"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."
"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."
"I'm proud to say that I've been working in kitchens from around the age of 15 to up until now at the age of 27, and i intend to carry on going.
Doing your GCSE exams and getting through the last push of secondary school is a big defining moment when you get a glimpse of what you want to eventually get out of a career and equally the rest of your life.
Becoming a chef was not what I ever planned for……
I tried my best and succeeded in gaining entry into the Royal Navy but rather ironically it was my numerous food allergies which cut my naval career short before it had even begun, and so I kept working as a kitchen porter and discovered that I enjoyed the environment, pressure and sense of achievement that comes with the job.
The years rolled by and I kept growing and learning. I really thought that I had landed on my feet in finding a successful career path, with something I never knew I loved doing.
Of course every job has its downfalls and stresses and throughout the different places and areas I've worked in i found that this particular job has many.
You really do have to commit and give it your all day in and day out, it demands so much of us but we keep pushing and fighting the urge to just give up, because after all we love being chefs, but hate it as well. It's a beautifully self destructive life.
This project is vital as every chef when they were younger would probably have needed a platform and community to rely on such as this.
I know I did.
Thankfully I married the most amazing woman and throughout my career she encouraged, tolerated and understood the life I had chosen. She also kept me sane and always made sure that I did my best to look after myself. Not everyone out there is so lucky.
That's why The Burnt Chef Project is such an important lifeline and resource for some people, and I'm proud to be a part of it."
“A journey into the hospitality world is no easy task and one that should never be taken lightly. I am really at the beginning of mine but even in the few years of being a chef I have learnt the hard way of the stigma behind mental health. I was ready to crumble and fall into a pit of despair but I have learnt I am not alone.
The hours are enough to throw anyone off balance let alone when you add the unruly expectations in with physical and mental abuse that always seem to get unnoticed. I have seen many of chefs and front of house workers walk out of their jobs because at some point enough is enough. I want to do more to make sure that it doesn’t get to that point for everyone.
There is such a misconception about poor mental health being a sign of weakness but I want to stand up and fight for this not to be over looked anymore. No one should feel guilty for wanting to put their health and self care as a priority so talking about the right environment and balance for your well being should be done more.
If this isn’t hard enough already being a woman in a kitchen you can receive a lot of sexism and harassment as well, being on the end of this can truly disrupt your livelihood and self worth. Having gone through this myself I want to now help in anyway I can to address the toxic attitudes in hospitality and the burnt chef is a great opportunity to do so and I am excited to see the movement progress”