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.
"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”
"Having worked in this industry for nearly 13 years, starting off washing pots as a 13 year old, to progressing to Head Chef, it’s been like a rollercoaster; exciting, fun and enjoyable times with life going 100mph, but with the thrill comes the low points. The not feeling good enough, personal problems as well as work too, I have witnessed first hand the effects it can have on a person.
This industry can turn the biggest, meanest person into a whirlwind of destruction with the long hours, limited social/family life and responsibility/pressure to succeed.
I am so glad I found The Burnt Chef project, it has helped me personally to overcome that stigma and allowed me to talk about mental health and the devastating outcomes of bottling it all up.
Far too many chefs have given up their careers or worse instead of talking to someone, it’s time to stand up and tell everyone that it is okay, it is normal and we ARE there for you.
Lets get back to enjoying this beautiful trade and pump the passion back into ourselves.
As one, we will stand up and Burn the Stigma
"I’ve worked in the hospitality trade for over 28years, I’ve seen first hand the impact, the long hours and difficult working conditions, has on people. On too many occasions is has steered people down a dark path.
The Burnt Chef Project is an amazing resource that not only raises awareness of the mental health impacts but also understands the industry enough that it connects with the people that matter. I would love to be more involved and help to spread the word and continue that focus on the people who need support."
My name is Kris, since 1999 cooking has been my life journey. In some moments can be very toxic for our own lives and our families. We Chefs dedicate our time and health to the mission of serving others.
Along my journey I’ve had many happy moments, great chefs, Michelin Stars, travelling, opening culinary schools, cooking practically all over the world, eating the best food, drinking champagne and caviar for breakfast. I know for many people it may look like this a dream job.
Behind the curtains we face many challenges including bullying, long hours, lack of holidays, permanent pain, burns and no time to ourselves or our families.
Some time ago one of my students tried to commit suicide. He couldn’t cope with the stress and micromanagement. My Sous Chef also ended up in hospital in a coma. I saw along my journey dozens of people leaving the industry because they had enough of the environment. Pushing towards perfection was the ultimate goal.
But, one day the dream was over. I started locking myself away from everything and everyone. I realised after everything that I too had got burned. I've achieved everything I could. The glass ceiling was broken. Cash was there, everything was in place however, the payback of not taking care of myself was looming. I lost everything.
Looking back after 3 years I'm happy to admit that I suffered a breakdown. I never went to MD or the hospital when I should have. As a result I’ve decided to go on a war against mental health stigma. I found inside myself a knew lease of energy and have started looking for a new sense in life.
Meditate, eat well, keep the balance.
I know that there are so many chefs struggling each day and now is the time for me to help others. I'm privileged to be a part of this project.
We are not make out of steel lets stay human and build a better environment together.
"I am Anita-Clare Field, Chef Patron of Multi-Award Winning La Petite Bouchée in Witheridge, North Devon. I have been a chef for almost 8 years and find my role both exhilarating and highly stressful at the same time. It affords me to be able to use my creativity, skill and focus, although sometimes during challenging times I have felt the pressure to push on and have suffered from anxiety and low self esteem.
I suffer with PTSD and am lucky to have received fantastic counseling over the years to help understand and live with my condition. This in turn has given me a greater understanding of the different types of mental illness and how to help others through active listening and emotional intelligence. I am proud and honoured to be an ambassador for The Burnt Chef Project because we need to keep talking, we need to F**k Stigma and above all be there to identify, help and make a difference to those in need of help."
Now working for a spirit brand, I have previously worked at every level within the hospitality industry. Started as a bar back, all the way through to ownership.
A hospitality career is not simply a job - it’s full on commitment, sacrifice & ultimately a way of life.
It’s not easy, at any level. I’ve experienced success, failure & all the stress & strain that comes with both, I continue to be surrounded by it daily in my current role.
The Burnt Chef Project is exactly what this industry needs, ditch the stigma & make people happy.
I’ve been a qualified Chef in the Navy since 2018. Prior to working in the Navy I worked positions all over the catering industry from working front of house to being the kitchen porter where I found the enjoyment of working in the industry.
Working as a Chef in the Navy comes with a lot of diverse environments and challenges along with a mix in characters and tough situations.
I’ve seen mental heath issues both in the military and in the civilian side of the industry. Unfortunately due to this industry being such hard graft it can be easy to slip into bad habits as its the easy way to relax after working long hours, I’m a strong believer in being physically fit to help tackle mental heath and staying in good all round shape.
I think projects like The Burnt Chefs need to have more of a voice in the industry to help those who need help."
"I have been a chef for 6 years and have had periods of time where my mental health has really effected my work, my personal life and my general well being.
Taking care of each other is so important in our industry and through a strong awareness about Mental Health we can reduce the effect it can have on an individual, and as a group. That has to be our goal."
"I am 26 Years old and Head Chef at The Anchor Inn - Hillfarrance. I have worked in the industry for about 11 years.
Working in the industry is demanding both mentally and physically, the long hours, stressful environment can be difficult to deal with but also very rewarding. Our industry is one of the very few which allows so much creative freedom to showcase talents in many unique and wonderful ways.
2 years ago I lost a close friend/ colleague due to the effects of poor mental health and having had such great support from friends/family/colleagues during the difficult time and many others helped me get to where I am now and achieve what I have done in my career so far.
Taking care of each other is so important in our industry and through strong awareness we can reduce the effect it has on an individual or even a group.
The Burnt Chef Project is a great step to remove the Stigma around mental health , Needing help and improving our industry with such a positive impact which will change the lives of many individuals.
It's OK not to be OK...
"I’ve spent the past 14 years working in and around kitchens, working from pot wash to running my own restaurant. It’s a relentless environment, bringing a plethora of stress and pressures that are unique to our industry, commonly accepted as normal – long hours, limited social & family life, demanding workplaces.
These aren’t simple to deal with - our industry has a culture of putting these to one side, as the next service is coming up or your already behind on your Mise en place, putting the problems to one side or playing them down, as if to do so would show some sort of “weakness”.
I’ve seen many chefs and front of house staff go through this, and been through it myself – striving to progress yourself to be the best you can be, whilst trying to deal with your problems - lacking the support to do so.
I often burnt the candle at both ends attempting to help myself, fulfil that work life balance, relieve the pressure, endeavour to “keep pushing” even if this meant working to the point of exhaustion and burnout - mentally & physically.
I would end up using drink & drugs daily to try and help myself and hide from my realities - all the while heightening the problem, partly because the platform for addressing and talking about my issues hadn’t been highlighted or engrained in our industries culture, and partly because there’s a stigma, to not talk about our issues, until now.
I see the burnt chef project as part of the culture change, helping reinforce and sustain that platform. It’s a no brainer to support this cause from my perspective as an employer, and as one of the team making sure I have the knowledge, support and tools to help my team effectively and help highlight this new ethos to our industry, negating judgement or prejudice.
Our industry is like no other out there, giving people creative freedom, showcasing talents and passions in many unique and wonderful settings both front and back of house. By removing the stigma from our workplace and giving people that platform we allow these to shine through and burn the stigma away. "
"I have worked in hospitality for almost 10 years with a career ranging from michelin restaurants, top hotels, overseas restaurants and top bakeries. I have had times in my career where my mental health has really effected what I do and my personal life. Unfortunately I have also seen the effect the unsociable working hours and pressures the industry carries and the effect on friends around me.
The Burnt Chef Project is such an incredibly important step for this industry to finally tackle deep issues such as mental health and physical well-being which are all to frequently ignored with the classic chef mind set just to crack on. I am very proud to be an ambassador for this amazing project and hope to raise more awareness and encourage more conversations around the issues we face."
"Hospitality is a fantastic industry be a part of, it's inspiring, creative and incredibly rewarding however there is a huge stigma surrounding mental health.
The working hours can be a challenge alone, but chefs often have this incredible but unsustainable work ethic, feeling guilt for taking any time off, resulting in personal life being greatly impacted. More often than not family events and social gatherings are missed making you feel as though you're missing out on everything and finding yourself lonely and cut off from your loves ones. In addition to the social aspects we adopt such unhealthy eating habits and lifestyles. There often feels there isn't enough time to stop and eat to fuel our bodies or drink enough water, which can be detrimental to our general wellbeing.
The Burnt Chef Project is something I wholeheartedly support. I am incredibly proud to become an ambassador because I want to get people talking about mental and physical health and wellbeing. We should join together, listen to one another without judgement, support our peers and strive to adapt our beloved industry in a way we can all benefit from."
"I’ve worked in the catering industry for roughly 9 years, doing both front and back of house. I have overcome my own mental health declines and seen the effects on others around me. It can be misinterpreted as not caring, laziness or weakness, all things I have been told. However anyone living with mental health will know the strength it takes to complete daily tasks, let alone work.
Hospitality is unique, it is both physically and mentally draining but so creative and can bring many highs. It is tough on the body, mind and soul.
The Burnt Chef Project is an incredible step to remove toxic mindsets and the stigma around mental health or needing help. We can improve the industry, the effects can only be positive."
"I first became passionately interested in food as a teenager cooking or baking with my Nan in her kitchen, years later a local restaurant opened near to me and needed a job (as a potwash) which I think most of us start out at 15.
I moved through the ranks, and became head chef of the same place 7 years later.
I then moved to work in a new era of high street branded restaurants opening rapidly within London called “Carluccios”. I gained success there and was mentored by Antonio to host cookery demonstrations and cookery training around the country with him and accompanied him at several book signings, opened 20 restaurants and became a regional training chef for him and the team.
Camaraderie and bond was something I cherished, delivering delicious food in new kitchens, passionate eager chefs lead me to be head hunted and become executive chef for Jamie Oliver at the height of his British boom and training new teams, and opening new restaurants such as the incredible flagship Newcastle site and supporting 11 others along the way with me coaching, costing and specials creation as well as recruitment and all the other stuff to do with running 12 kitchens!
This became increasingly complex and challenging when my wife had baby number 3, and the demands of such high profile establishments and family life was becoming very one sided I chose family over career. I didn’t realise at the time but looking back now 7/8 years later mental health becoming increasingly strained. And certainly was the best route to depart.
I became Executive Chef of a high profile but local, family ran garden centre, independent and huge volume, but with immense detail, incredible national award winning team of 25. I learned how to manage my mental health strain using physical exercise and a mind journal to channel my thoughts and pushed forward being able to manage the dark times from before.
At such a different pace and lifestyle I increasingly missed the drive, and camaraderie of the high street, and found myself offered an amazing role as Executive Chef for a unique and small pan Asian brand within the north west.
This was a brilliant opportunity but very pressured compared to my previous role, along with very long demanding hours, but my understanding of mental health gave me the tools to juggle workload and demands. However, COVID struck us all and my role was simply dissolved, like thousands of others I felt hurt that I wasn’t able to be supported but also could see the potential of this happening given how many others had the same situation. However given the time of the year agencies literally ignoring, not responding very little was on offer of these previous typed of roles, and took a head chef role local to me to be able to be close to family and very little travel means the hours don’t quite effect family life so much as previous regional roles.
I’m much more balanced mentally and clearly focused on a future - whatever that may be, either progressing through the ranks of a branded business, or pursuing my own."
"I have worked in this industry for many years, with my first job as a KP starting when I was 16 after exams at school. I didn't go straight through to cooking from that job but worked as a nurse, and then in security at sporting events and music venues in Dublin.
At a loose end I took a kitchen job on my return to the UK from Ireland and worked my way up from general kitchen assistant to head chef over a period of 20 years.
In all my jobs I have seen how mental health issues affect people both in and out of work. With the hospitality trade Probably being the worst trade I've worked in for being pushed to work when you are ill.
I was first diagnosed as a manic depressive when I was 18, and although having a diagnosis of why I was like I was was a massive weight off my shoulders, back in the 80's it was a very taboo subject. It wasn't talked about.
I am now being treated for bipolar, and I am very aware that the stigma about mental health is very real. But things are changing. People do talk about it and it is recognised as a very serious issue within life, but it still remains a taboo subject in many areas of life.
I always say to my colleagues, friends or family, I would rather sit and talk and listen to your problems than sit at your funeral listening to your eulogy.
It's time to break the stigma! "
"I have been working in this wonderful industry over 20 years now. I
paid for university by working as a Band caterer on Tour, have taught over 1000 cooking classes on 2 continents and simply have done it all. From working as a private chef for the rich and famous, running the kitchen in Surfcamps, from Michelin starred restaurants to running my own Kitchen in Australia – “been there – done that”. And I am still loving it.
Working as a pretty female in this industry is always a little bit more challenging – especially when you grow up in Germany and work in the industry without the “proper Apprenticeship/ classical training”. It’s extremely important for German Head Chefs that you have a certificate to be taken serious. So I always had to work as twice as hard as others to be recognized max. as half as good as others. I would lie if I`d say that this never ever bothered me.
10 Years ago I had a mental breakdown. I suffered heavy depression and was also diagnosed with a severe GAD. 5 Years of constantly proving that you`re “just good enough” to others in combination with everything else took a toll on my mental and physical health. I swallowed the pills - and took on the biggest challenge of my life. Against myself and the Stigma. It took me a year including therapy and some weeks even in the clinic to get back on my feet..
I am very open and verbal about this episode because I thing it needs to be addressed – now more than ever. “R U OK” can be so much more than just a phrase. I support this cause because the reason why it exists made me who I am – but other shouldn’t suffer this hard. Prevention is key."
I have worked in the industry for over 12 years now and I have had the absolute pleasure of working with a lot of chefs from all walks of life.
I took after my father who is a chef and I am currently a Head chef in the south of a small countryside pub with rooms.
This is a very demanding industry to be in especially with staffing issues across the country.
A lot of neglect in this industry has led to a lot of very talented chefs leaving this industry for good.
With this industry falling to its knees during this pandemic I believe a lot of care and attention is much needed in this sector. This is why I have signed up to be an ambassador for the "Burnt Chef Project."
"Hello my name is Chris golding, I am 36 years old, I currently work as a chef de partie for St austell brewery in Cornwall. I have been a chef for the last 5 years. I retrained and moved to Cornwall to be within this industry. My goal is to have my own pub or restaurant in the near future.
Working in this industry is demanding and can really take it out of you physically and mentally, the hours and stressful environment can be very difficult to deal with at times but also can be rewarding.
The Burnt Chef Project is fighting for a cause that is very close to my heart. Two years ago I split from my long-term partner and also got the news that my mum had terminal cancer. I kept working through it and eventually the hours and stress got the better of me and I had to take some time off to work on my mental health and issues with depression.
It’s with this in mind that I wish to be part of this project.
To be an ambassador for this cause and offer support and help to colleagues who may be going through what I went though is some thing that I feel is very important."
"My name is Aidan king. 24 year old pastry chef from Tiverton. I have been a chef for almost 9 years. It’s all I have ever done. Straight from school to college.
I have worked in various places from pubs, cafes hotels and restaurants. Most recently I worked for 5 years at the Jack in the Green in Exeter as a senior CDP.
I have recently moved to head pastry chef at the Hartnoll Hotel in Tiverton. I’ve partaken in various events like a couple of Devon chefs dinners, South West chef of the year semi finals, and Exeter food festival.
Just after college I lost a good friend and fellow chef to the effects of poor mental health. We all have down days but it’s about being there to support others on those down days and that’s why I want to help spread and be an ambassador for the Burnt Chef Project."
"I ‘accidentally’ fell in love with hospitality after realising that I was enjoying my life of working late night bars, setting up gigs, slogging in dish pits, carrying plates etc at 19 more than I was enjoying my university courses. So, without really knowing what I was doing, I left, and got stuck in to every aspect of this world.
That was 32 or so years ago.
Pubs, bars, front-of-house, to the battlefield of the kitchen. High volume, high street, private dining, Michelin, function catering, food trucks, the lot. I loved it, the camaraderie, the sense of invincibility, the passion, the feeling of belonging, and then later, the practical & commercial details of the business, the openings, the maximising of P&L’s, the HR, the role of inspirer, the ‘arms-round-with-a-foot-in-the-backside’ complexity of getting the most out of people who didn’t even think they had anything to give. Breaking away from being an employee and starting businesses, being the employer, getting food awards, kudos from business peers, magazine features, all that stuff.
Then I got sick.
Auto-immune, out of nowhere, knocked on my ass sick. Can’t function day-to-day or hour-to-hour sick.
Losing my business sick.
I’d always worried about the mental side of the business, and had gone from the early days, especially the chef days, of almost certainly being one of those propagators of unhealthy, chest-beating, poor working practices, to realising that there are far better ways to really develop the people around me, but what I hadn’t ever done, was take care of myself.
3 big surgeries, a forced, financially negative sale of my hard-earned business and a total collapse of my self belief and sense of purpose later, and I was in trouble. Real trouble, that I didn’t see a way out of.
But I’m OK. It hasn’t been an easy process, and I’m not finished on that road yet, but I’m definitely OK now; things are clear, and I am determined to speak out for change in the industry that I love, and that has a crazy and exciting time ahead of it.
I figure that if I can help 1 single person to have a better understanding of their own needs, give them some tools to more easily deal with whatever work or life throws at them, then it’s what I should be doing. But 1 isn’t enough. We need a sea change in the entire industry’s approach to caring for the only thing in it that truly matters; it’s people.
The Burnt Chef Project looks very much, to me, like something that can start that change happening, and then drive it home.
I’m here. Or more importantly; I’m STILL here. Let’s change things."
"I’ve been working as a chef in the hospitality industry for over 17 years now and have worked in various different kitchens from busy hotels, country pubs, cookery schools, private dining rooms, corporate events and outside catering.
Poor mental health is something that has affected me for most of my career and in many different ways.
I have experienced amazing highs in my career but have also experienced some terrible lows. I’ve been made to feel completely worthless at times and sometimes wonder whether all the anti social hours and sacrifices I make are worth it.
The toughest thing I’ve had to deal with during my career is the death of my father. I went through a really dark and horrible place both in and out of the kitchen for a very long time. I used to rely on alcohol most days to make myself feel better and numb the pain that I was going through, I’d finish a shift in the kitchen and head straight to the nearest bar for a drink. On days off I wouldn't leave my house and didn't feel like socialising with friends or family at all.
Eventually, I realised that I had to do something to regain control of my life. I knew my diet and lifestyle needed to change so I started running and eating healthier. Running gives me a great buzz and I feel so much better after I’ve been out for a run, no matter how bad my day is or how much pressure I’m under at work, as long as I get out for a run my mood is completely different and I’m a better person to be around. I still have good days and bad days in the kitchen but I feel a lot more in control of my mental health nowadays. I know that it's ok to not be ok sometimes.
Getting married and becoming a father are two of the best things that have happened to me in the recent years, and I finally feel that I’m in a happier place with myself both in work and family life.
The Burnt Chef Project is doing amazing work in the hospitality industry and I am proud to support them!"
"I’m 33 years old, I’ve been a chef for over a decade and I’m currently head chef of a small hotel in Edinburgh.
When I was first promoted to head chef, I was hard to work for. I thought it was how it was done, you had to be demanding and aggressive to keep everyone on their toes. I realised far too late that it was my own depression and anxiety that was causing me to be stressed, and as a result I was pushing that on my team and punishing them for this that weren’t their fault.
I’ve seen a lot of talented cooks leave the industry altogether for the good of their mental health. People are seen as being ‘unable to hack it’ which is nonsense. Everyone has problems, and everyone deals with them differently. No two people are the same, and there isn’t a blanket approach to mental health.
A lot more needs to be done from within the industry to change the culture of bullying and harassment that is so deeply rooted in the past. It starts with things like The Burnt Chef Project, and I’ll be getting as many of my team involved as I can to provide the support we need. "
"From the beginning of my career in the hospitality industry as a chef, my 17 years of experience have allowed me to expand my skills. Starting from doing the dishes and advancing to Chef de Partie up to Head Chef and Kitchen manager in my current role at Tyrrells Wood Golf Club.
Staff in this industry often find themselves working unsociable hours up to seven days a week, just to keep their departments going. As those in hospitality know, this often has a big impact on one’s mental health. I often tell people ‘I’m okay’ or ‘it’s fine’ but this is not always the case. I say this because it is easy to say. Knowing I do this just highlights the problem to me.
This is why I have signed up to be an ambassador of the Burnt chef, I want to help raise awareness of mental health and strive to create a nice working environment not just for my team, but for all the industries workers that have struggled or are struggling with mental health and wellbeing.
I believe this is such a great cause and It’s time to get people talking, together with the Burnt Chef we can do this!"
"I have worked as a chef for the last 20 years across a variety of sectors of the industry including running my own catering company for the last 18 months.
I love what I do but there are side effects to working within the industry, I have worked through stress, time pressure, struggling with work/life balance and have coped with them in a manner of ways some healthy and some not so much, these experience have shaped how I deal and manage these issues today.
I want to create a culture within my business that lines up with the ethos of The Burnt Chef Project to promote, encourage and support the mental wellness within my team.
I’m honoured to be a Burnt Chef ambassador and to be able to support and promote the fantastic work being done by Kris and his team."
'I grew up in the hospitality industry, and have worked in it all my life and have enjoyed many of it's benefits from both sides of the fence. The traditional mantra of 'work hard and play hard' has always been a way to avoid some of the harsher realities of the business and it is great that this initiative finally shines a light on the all to forgotten downsides to the trade we all love. I am proud and privileged to play some small part as an Ambassador for ' The Burnt Chef Project' in supporting Kris and the team to offer a line of support to individuals and organisations attempting to tackle the stigma of mental health concerns and benefit the wider industry and those striving to make a life within it.'
"I work as a senior sous chef in a award winning pub, in Malton North York.
I have like many suffered mental health through the years and found coping mechanisms to deal with certain scenarios"
"After having been a chef for 5 years, and starting out in kitchens from 15 years old, mental health was part and parcel with being a chef, only nobody would verbalise it.
I have lost good chefs, good friends, good people, to the industry because of the stigma of talking about it. Something that I have been trying to destigmatise myself.
I have also had my fair share of mental health problems, these came after missing my children grown up, having relationships crumble due to overworking in the industry, and family and friend relationships disintegrate, to name a few.
All due to the hours worked, pressure and stress of the job, and feeling like 'less of a man' for talking about it.
I am glad to be involved in destigmatising this, and more so am proud that the industry now has a support network."
"I was born with dyspraxia. I said my first word when I was 6 and started reading and writing when I was 7.
My mum and dad got told several times I wasn't going to make it, then my dad had a car accident and then got diagnosed with cancer, so I had dark thoughts when I was 13/14.
I've worked as a chef for 5 years I have suffered with anxiety since I was about 10.
I got diagnosed with depression when I was 19 and never spoke about it until my dad was diagnosed with cancer again last year.
Since then I have opened up and other chefs have contacted me about opening up and they too have shared their difficulties of this industry.
Last year was going a terrible time with my dads diagnosis but cooking kept me going and I could prove people wrong.
Everyday is a battle but working where I do (Marquis of Granby) and working with the people I do has enabled me to be myself and not worry about what people think.
"I have been the the restaurant industry for 30 plus years.
I started out as a kitchen porter, getting kicked around by aggressive chefs and front of house staff. Back then ,being so young, I never understood the pressures of this trade
And the lives that it destroys.
I’ve seen so many great talented people damaged by mental health issues so many times and instead of speaking out about how they felt they would reach for alcohol or gambling as a mechanism to cope with.
I have worked the long crazy hours this job takes never switching off from the role.
Losing out on precious family time missing key moments in friends lives all because of the pressure from being a chef and the enjoyment of cooking.
In my time as a chef I’ve achieved Chef of the Year in 2009 for Italian cookery cooked at a five star level.
Last year I opened my own restaurant and made one thing very clear to my entire team; that we would have a work life balance, that we would spend time speaking to each other and supporting each other listening to anyone and watching to see who’s mood changes and may be struggling in life and work… Giving great needed help to young people starting out in this wonderful trade.
I’m not perfect but I support anyone who may have mental health issues and the changes that are needed in this industry"
"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.