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AMbassadors

NEW AMBASSADOR SCHEME LAUNCHING SOON

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Kate Lees

My first job was as a waitress in my local pub, fast forward 20 years and I head up the HR team for a hotel group! What I have recognised over these years is that the unique pressures of our industry do not always support good mental health.

 

One of the reasons I work in HR is because I want to help create the best environment possible for people to work in, and so partnering with TBCP was a no brainer to help me work towards that for our teams. The more we talk about this subject and support those around us with greater awareness, the better the environment we will create together.

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Amelia Heminway

  • Instagram

I've always been aware of the effects of poor mental health. As my roles have changed so too have my experiences of mental health. I’ve moved into roles in which I have had a duty of care to my teams, yet I’ve felt woefully unprepared. Supporting colleagues with experiences that I’ve had no concept of how to deal with, due to lack of training.

 

I knew things needed to change, when I was the in midst of dealing with a highly charged situation in the workplace and a personal loss at home which were taking their tolls on me.

Initially worried, after several months I decided to speak out at work, but the support I so desperately needed was not made available to me.

This led to heightened anxiety and depression. I don’t believe that the memories will ever truly leave me, but the experience has changed me in a good way. I've discovered how using my experiences, I can help others. I hope that by supporting Burnt Chef, I can help prevent others from experiencing what I felt, to ensure that support is always provided and that no one feels ashamed or embarrassed to speak up.

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Conor Halpenny

  • Instagram

My name is Conor Halpenny, Head Chef of the Square Restaurant in Co.Louth in Ireland.
I won the Eurotoques Young Chef of the year in 2017 and I am a member of the Food Council within Eurotoques.


I am 26 years of age and I have been in the hospitality industry for nearly 11 years.  I have struggled with my mental health for a long time, but I have been fortunate to work with people who were able to help me when I was at my lowest.

I would love to be able to provide help to any of the people who I work with so working with The Burnt Chef Project will be of great benefit to me in order to help others. 


We need to be able to talk about our mental health and I would like to be a part of breaking down the stigma attached to it.
 

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Nico Rasile

  • Instagram

My name is Nico and I am the Head of Food and Recipe Development for Vertical Future.

I have been working in restaurants my whole life, as my father, now retired, was a chef and restaurant. I have always seen the stress of the world. The long hours and the pain people go through just to give good service.

In my late 20’s I had a stroke, while at work, it was a massive life-changing event. There was very little support for my mental health when I returned to work only one month after the incident. The stroke caused me to have many different mental health problems.

I had to struggle, and overcome these, I was lucky as I had a wonderful supporting family. But the workplace needs to do more to help the staff. To see the signs earlier, to support the employees and make the catering industry a safe place for people to work.

I am now happy, well and a  father.

 

I want to make the workplace a better place for people as everyone is someones son or daughter. With working on The Burnt Chef Project, I hope to help the industry change for the better

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Neil Perkins

My Name is Neil Perkins

 

 I have worked as a Chef for about 40 years, firstly in London at the Royal Gardens Hotel Kensington then at different establishments around the country for THF, whilst on their Chef graduate scheme , a stint in France was part of that as well as stages at many establishments in the UK I then moved to be Executive Chef at the National Police Training College in Hampshire for 23 years till its closure in 2015. I am at present working as Executive Head Chef at Parkstone Yacht Club in Poole.

 

I have had a lifetime experience of mental health as my Mother suffered with it all her life and was in hospital with her illness on many occasions during my days growing up in the 1970s It did sadly have an effect on me and led to me suffering from depression as a young man on occasion especially during tough times, when the tough times occurred  I would find that I drunk a lot of alcohol that could lead to bad situations, which would then increase my anxiety even more. At that time there was no support for mental health so you were left to get on with life.

 

Working in the industry has had a positive and negative effect on my mental health, the positive side is the passion and creativity it invokes and the camaraderie you feel working with such great people.

The negative side can be the long hours and stress on occasion that we bring upon ourselves to deliver the best product we can. It leads us to neglect ourselves and if not careful it can have a detrimental effect on our mental health.

 

The last year has been tough and I have seen close up the negative effects it has had on peoples mental health.

 

I hope that my experiences can help me to help others in the industry and that is why I am supporting the Burnt Chef Project and would be proud to be an Ambassador

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Katie Pike

  • LinkedIn

I started my career in the Hospitality Industry in 2015 and having studied in Hospitality at University I found it a fulfilling reward in working along side such hard-working and diverse people. In having worked in the sector you realise the pressure of long hours and the need for resilience. 

 

There is a huge stigma around mental health within the industry and I believe that The Burnt Chef is offering a great service. We should all try and help make an impact and help face challenges that we all fear. 

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Andrea Dodd

  • Instagram

I’m currently a Managing Director for a Hospitality training provider delivering apprenticeships and training for the Hospitality industry.

 

I started working in the hospitality industry when I just turned 18. Initially working in pubs and then transferred into hotels and restaurants. I immediately fell in love with the industry. I didn’t mind the long hours or being on my feet all day and night because I loved what I did. I’ve always been a very positive person and very upbeat, it was only after I’d been in the industry for a few years that I started to notice how people’s job roles and shift patterns were affecting their mental health. The majority of staff I worked alongside, either turned to drink or drugs to get them through days as well as weeks. I fell out with quite a few people I worked with because that path wasn’t for me, I was judged because I didn’t turn to drink and drugs as I could see how much it was affecting people’s moods on a daily basis, which in turn was affecting mine. It was at that point I decided to go into training.

 

I loved Hospitality but needed to be away from that environment; so now I have the best of both worlds.

My best friend suffered for many years with her mental health; progressively getting worse due to differing reasons. Sadly, she wasn’t given enough of the right support she needed. This is why I chose to support The Burnt Chef Project and be an ambassador for mental health awareness. If I can raise awareness to help somebody get the correct help they need then it will all be worth it.   

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Kevin Steele

  • Instagram

I started my career working in high end establishments and hotels in and around the midlands. Working my way up to head chef at the age of 26. I then progressed into contract catering in 2017.

I Currently  head up a team of 10 as the Executive Chef at Gymshark in solihull and provide healthy nutritious meals to over 500 staff daily.

I have personally experienced and witnessed the effects of mental health issues and lack of mental health knowledge in many forms throughout my career as a chef.

Following the death of a close friend and fellow chef due to suicide I am on personal quest to put mental health at the forefront of managers, restaurant owners and chefs agendas and end the macho stigma associated with hospitality roles.

Hopefully my experience in fitness and nutrition can help chefs put their mental health and diet first and educate them in a holistic approach to wellbeing.

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Conor Bartley

  • LinkedIn

My name is Conor Bartley I am currently the Front of House Manager, at Kimpton Fitzroy London. I started my career in Hospitality at the age of 16. Whilst Hospitality is a truly rewarding industry to work in, there can be unsocial hours, long days, and pressure to deliver. I truly believe the good days strongly outweigh the bad, however many hospitality operators are continuing to neglect employee’s mental health.

A positive work life balance is incredibly important to keep the industry strong, breaking the stigma and promoting mental health in the workplace should be the forefront of every employer’s people strategy.

The Burnt Chef Project is a wonderful initiative which will positively help change the face of mental health in the Hospitality industry. The Covid-19 pandemic has hit our beloved industry to the core, now is the time to positively rebuild workplace culture and support.

I am extremely proud to become an ambassador for the Burnt Chef Project, looking forward to raising awareness and training my team on the new normal.

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Brandon Clemens

  • Instagram

I am currently Executive Chef of the Bruce Hotel in Stratford Canada. I have spent 15 years in Kitchens; many considered the best in the world.

 

The atmospheres I have worked in have driven me to be more dedicated and focused than I could have ever imagined. Competitions and the pursuit of stars have humbled me into a well rounded adult. 

 

Food is a foundation of life and being able to express myself and pay my bills doing the same thing is always fantastic. Ours is one of the hardest industries for mental health; immense pressure does not always form diamonds.

 

The Burnt Chef Project is creating a web of support for an industry and its people at their lowest. We are breaking the stigma, and reinventing the norm.

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Tim Brown

  • LinkedIn

I’ve been working in the industry for 12 years now. Starting as a part-time Public Area Cleaner and through many years of hard work I have moved from department to department gaining a good understanding of the industry and the challenges people face in their different roles. 

 

I never planned to work in this industry and I did not plan on staying either, if it was not for the few special people that helped support me, guide me and give me one more chance I know I wouldn’t have made it this far, but I did and I thank them for it. I hope to pay them back by doing the same for others.

 

This industry can be amazing and so rewarding, but can also be very negative & without proper management, it can consume your life. 

Through the years I have seen many good people be chewed up and spit out, I want to do what I can to stop that from happening.

 

I love this industry and I love the people in it. 

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James Reid & Lewis Greenwood

  • Instagram

We are Lewis & James of Fink Street Food, a company that exists to support good mental health and wellbeing.  Our mission is to tackle stigma, one bite a time. We are raising awareness of mental health issues and using the majority of our profits to support
community level mental health services.

 

Since our inception in 2019, we
have used engaging street food experiences to promote positive attitudes to mental health.
We are transforming their customer’s spend into positive social change.

 

Our commitment as a social enterprise is to use 50% of our profits to support our mental health mission. By breaking down stigma, signposting support and encouraging honest conversations about our own mental
wellbeing, we can help shape a different trajectory for the mental health of our society.


Together, we can create a more supportive, accepting and caring world for everyone!

This is why we stand side by side with the Burnt Chef Project to help create and improve the support network for good mental wellbeing within our industry that we have both spent 15 years+ in and witnessed first hand the pressures and impact on our colleagues at all levels.

James Reid and Lewis Greenwood
Co-founders

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Mark Donlon

  • LinkedIn

I have been a chef for over 30 years and now live in London. I have worked in hotels, restaurants, private households, education and now as an executive chef in B&I.

I love working in the hospitality industry. I have witnessed the pressure chefs are under on a daily basis. The old adage of no two days are the same rings true.

Whilst it is exciting to have variety in the workplace it can lead to undue stress and strain on the mental wellbeing of our teams.

Mental health in the catering industry is something that is not as openly discussed as I think it should be.

There is a stigma around opening up about pressures you may feel.  The industry is tough and relentless. We can all suffer from stress or fatigue and need someone to talk to. Sometimes a chat is what is needed to allay fears and concerns. Being part of a support network can only aid the industry and more importantly us, its workers.

I feel the Covid epidemic has affected the mental wellness of many within our great industry.

I came across the burnt chef project while looking into wellness within the hospitality industry. I believe the burnt chef platform is well placed to help chefs who have been made redundant have gone out of business. When the industry reopens our teams will need support, guidance and encouragement to settle back into working life.

It is time to support and aid people back to the workplace. We know our industry had been hit hard so let’s rebuild together, step by step.

These are strange and unique times but let’s embrace all that is great and diverse across hospitality.

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Jimi Tegerdine

  • Instagram

I have been in the F&B industry for over 20 years, I came straight out of high school with bad grades but a passion for food, that passion drove me. But I couldn’t find what I was looking for, be it respect or the challenge I needed to thrive.

 

I moved to Australia where my eyes and doors opened, I felt I’d succeeded. But that was just the start. My hunger for excellence pushed me, but the self-doubt pushed me harder. Battling self-doubt and low self-esteem whilst juggling a personal and professional life was hard. But it didn’t show in my food, after 7 years in Australia I was appointed as Executive Chef in Singapore where I found my calling, but that came with no less stress. I was 27 and had to fight to become one of the best.

 

I am now in the UK, after 15 years away from home. I now share my travels and passion with all generations in the kitchens I work. I nurture my staff like I would of liked to of been back when it all began, we all need that little bit of help.

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Aimee Applegate

  • Instagram

Hi, I’m Aimee Applegate.

The hospitality industry grabbed my heart and full attention from an incredibly young age. Being a Chef is an aspiration I always wanted to achieve. I went on to pursue my dream of becoming a Chef, beginning my training on the Specialised Chef Scholarship with the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts. Each day, my devotion for the industry only becomes more established. 

I am no stranger when it comes to having dealt with some ultimately life changing, unfortunate experiences in the industry; unforgivingly leading to mental health issues.

Our industry generates such passion and excitement to both the people who work in the trade, and the people who enjoy our products and services. So, the mental health issues and stigma that overshadow such a positive, vibrant, diverse industry need to be overcome and supported.

Organisations like ‘The Burnt Chef Project’, bring people together to advance the levels of education regarding mental health as well as building strength within the industry and ourselves as individuals.

I am honoured and very excited to be a part of this incredible organisation amongst likeminded Chefs to help combat the stigma that lives within the hospitality industry, changing the way mental health is dealt with and perceived.

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Nat Tallents

  • Instagram

I have been working within hospitality for 20 years now and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. The industry is full of some of the most creative, hard-working, passionate and incredible people I have ever met.

Unfortunately, this industry has also suffered with high rates of addiction, mental instability and the stigma that comes with it. The ingrained rules of going to work no matter what and ultimately ruining your own health in the process is still just accepted as an unspoken kitchen rule.

I have suffered from severe burn out in my career through over work and the feeling of having to keep going and not let the team down. Working through injuries, illness, severe lack of sleep and malnourishment. My employers would reprimand for poor performance rather than unloading the mountains of stress put on senior positions.

Now as a manager I pride myself on supporting my staff and it is organisations like ‘The Burnt Chef Project’ that help us to bring like-minded people together to educate, support and look after our own 

I am proud to be a small part in changing the future of health & wellbeing within the workplace, especially for chefs.

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Marc Davies (Sparky)

  • Instagram

So after 14 years programming on Mainframe computers I decided it was time for change.

What else can I do? Cook.  So that’s what I did.  A new career and a new life and to be honest I’ve never looked back.

I’ve been a Chef now for just over 18 years working in all areas of the kitchen from Grill to Head Chef.  Also working in a variety of establishment from Private Schools, Care Homes, Chain Pubs, Restaurants and Private Boutique Hotels.

One thing I found immediately with this industry is the sense of family. Always welcoming wherever I went, and as a freelance contract Chef for 8 years, that was a lot of places.

It’s almost like you’ve got everyone’s typical family with you everyday – the cheeky one, the studious one, the “Mum & Dad”, the one who’s always late – I found myself falling into many of these roles but always one to take an interest in people for who they were.

This industry is great fun and also hard work but the satisfaction of emparting your skills to provide happiness to others is priceless.

My story doesn’t need telling but I have suffered and come through the other side.  I heard of The Burnt Chef Project through a Facebook Chefs Group and I immediately wanted in.

We are here to help and I hope we can do just that and start shrinking the Stigma surrounding Mental Illness.

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Matthew Baggott

  • Instagram

Hi I'm Matt, I've been working in hospitality since i was 18. I started as a bartender before I eventually found my passion as a chef and i've never looked back. During my time there's never been a boring moment even during the quieter months, sadly one thing has never changed in that time, everyday you come to work regardless of what's going on mentally or physically.

I think we can all agree it's time for a change.

Now more then ever we need to realise the old cliché of our fellow staff being a family is true and it's time we all stuck together to tackle the issues we face together.

I myself like so many others have experienced problems and gotten into positions with my mental health that i'm not proud of but if it wasn't for my family at home and in work i wouldn't be still going.

This charity is exactly what the industry needs right now and has been crying out for, there's no shame in asking for help and i'm glad to be a part of this project. 

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Shawnie Gregory

  • Instagram

I have been a Chef for 10 years and like many others, I came straight into the kitchen after leaving school. It’s hard to imagine not being in a kitchen. Even when you try to get out, you always come back - and I’ve never seen this as a bad thing. I love doing what I do. 

 

When you work in a kitchen you don’t just get taught about food and how to cook, you learn to be humble, graceful and how to work hard. You also learn that not everyone in the kitchen has happy days and everyone faces something different every day, just like everyone else outside of our white laminated four walls. 

 

As we all know hospitality is one of the most notorious industry’s worldwide, and depression and suicide rates are at an all-time high. When I heard about the Burnt Chef Project, I thought ‘Finally, there are people out there that can see the everyday struggle we go through.  The late nights, the ridiculous hours and so on. So I became an ambassador to show to the chefs and even other members in the sector that they are NOT alone, we are all in this TOGETHER. 

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Lorna MacPherson-Johnston

  • Instagram

I have worked in hospitality for 13 years; I fell into the industry and consequently fell in love with it also. I am a General Manager and have always worked front of house, I truly believe the centre of hospitality is the people. Both guests and staff alike, you cannot have one without the other.

Throughout my years in the industry, I have seen it change and develop, especially as a woman within the industry. Whilst hospitality provides so many wonderful opportunities, it has always (perhaps more previously than now) been known as an industry in which you tend to burn the candle at both ends.

I have seen first-hand the struggles of people very close to me, both friends and employees who have battled with their mental health and addictions, not knowing who to turn to or when to ask for help. I have had moments in the past in which I have felt anxious, with low self-esteem and did not know how to cope with the stress. Not enough people talk about their struggles, we need to be the new generation of leaders within our field who are encouraging positive mental health/mental hygiene and dissolving the stigma around talking about it.

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Luke Wheeler

  • Facebook

I’m Luke and I have been in the industry for 6 years working in the gastro pub environment working as a chef up to the role of kitchen manager and also FOH up to the role of team leader.

 

I have found the industry quite hard on my mental health as have suffered from depression, stress and anxiety. I understand the importance of talking to someone about your mental health and I know it is hard to do so but it is the best thing to speak out and get help about the way you feel to make yourself the best you can be.

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Simon Braz

  • Instagram

I started learning to be a chef over 18 years ago and I have learnt a lot not just about food but also about myself.

 

I moved to Bournemouth 10 years ago and as I have been promoted, I have had to look at my own mental well-being so as to be able to help others in my kitchen. 

 

The last year has been particularly difficult because of Covid-19 which has messed up chefs lives in more ways than one, but I felt that I could not let this dampen my spirits and passion as a chef. With that in mind, I decided to teach people to cook dishes I know and love, primarily from Japanese cuisine on Instagram, these are live and great fun.  

In this last lockdown I created my own website and launched my business with the aim of teaching people to cook fine dining restaurant worthy dishes from the comfort of their own kitchens over Zoom. Doing this was vital in keeping structure in my life and combatting lockdown fatigue but also giving me the impetus to focus on a new challenge in my cooking life. 

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Grant Seabrook

  • Instagram

Hi, I have been working in the catering industry for just over 15 years. I stepped out of the kitchen 5 years ago and I am now using my knowledge and experience in a shirt instead of whites as a General Manager.

I have seen up closely the effects of what mental health can do to someone, A few years ago someone close to me struggled with their health and eventually were admitted into Hospital. Seeing them suffer really woke me up to how serious mental health is. We all work in an industry that is so fixated and focused on delivering amazing service and food to others, that we often forget about ourselves and the team. People still feel that there is a stigma attached to mental health, so it is not widely talked about, especially in the kitchen.

Covid19 has punched our industry in the face but I do believe it has brought us all closer than ever, we are going to have some of the toughest years ahead getting over this virus and I want to help where I can so we can get back to what we do, Just better and without any stigma.

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Dominic Gill

  • Instagram

I’ve been a chef for 20 years. It started as just a job, a way to earn money, but became something that really took over my life.

 

I’ve suffered from depression and anxiety for even longer than I’ve been cooking, but have only really recognised what it is and started to get to grips with it in the past few years. 

 

I used to think that being angry and aggressive and offensive was just part of being a chef and labelled everything as banter or ‘just how it is in the kitchen’. In one of my first senior roles I threw something at my friends head (luckily I missed him) and realised that things had to change.

 

I’ve found a way to be the chef I want to be without being that person, I’ve done a lot of work on myself by studying Stoicism, Buddhism and the work of Jordan Peterson. We can all do better and it’s time for chefs to really stand up and change things for the better.

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Ian Addy

  • Instagram

I have worked in the hospitality industry for over 40 years and I can honestly say my passion and love for this brilliant industry has not diminished in that time. I started my career as a 16 year old apprentice chef and once I had gained my City & Guilds; I went on to work in a large hotel in Cornwall. On returning to my home town in Yorkshire I worked as a head chef at a very popular restaurant for five years. I was offered positions to work in restaurants in London, but wanted to balance my career with my family commitments and therefore took a slightly different route and went into a career in hospitality management, working in many different settings. Latterly, I was in operational management.

 

It is a challenging profession and at times my resilience has been tested to say the least, so I quite understand how people can be dragged down into difficult places. 

 

If, in any small way I can support the great people within the industry I am passionate about, it would be very fulfilling. To be an Ambassador is a privilege and is the perfect way for me to be part of the great Burnt Chef Project

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Eva Grace Budd

  • Instagram

I have always been an advocate of opening the conversation around mental health, I graduated in Psychology before I became a chef. 

Working in a kitchen presents its own unique set of challenges, staying on top of your game when you may be sleep deprived, harnessing the adrenaline to focus and understanding yourself well enough to know when the pressure may be mounting up and becoming unmanageable.

Taking the time to enquire about others well-being can make all the difference. Many of us spend more time with our work family each week than our actual family or support network so it is even more important in kitchens that we look out for each other. 

I believe engaging in open, honest dialogue, without the fear of being judged, will help mental health concerns and issues to be identified earlier and hopefully empower people to seek support.
 

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Oliver Wood

  • Instagram

Hi, well my name is Oli and I have been in the industry for over 25 years.  When I started there was no one to talk to, no one to go to, I guess no body listened, actually no body wanted to listen nobody really cared after early starts and late finishes.

Don’t  get me wrong I love what I do and now with my own restaurant the mental health of my staff is very important to me and I support chefs from other bars pubs and restaurants where I can even if it's merely a txt or them dropping by before service, our door is always open.

 

After the past 12 Months we have all had the ups and downs it is more important more than ever to support one another

 

In short you are not alone we are in this together and together we can help fight the hang-ups within the industry we all know and love

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Anthony Baughan

  • Twitter

My name is Anthony Baughan, I have been in the industry for 27 years and gained lots of experience.

 

I feel I would be a good ambassador for the burnt chef project as I have suffered major mental health issues in the past though poor management and burn out. So much I ended up in mental health word after attempt to end life, talking has played major part for me as well as seeking help via many means.

 

Now I have changed career path and now I am a lecturer at Loughborough college teaching wide range of levels in hospitality. We talk every lesson regarding wellbeing to try and get message across from early stage there is help if needed.

 

I am in a fantastic fast paced trade which is the best, so by teaching I hope my story will hopefully help students understand pit falls not to fall in to and ask for help   

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Gavin Steele

  • Instagram

I’m Gavin, I’m originally from Northern Ireland but have been in England for almost 3 years now working in some 1 and 2 rosette kitchens from Norfolk to Wiltshire.

 

I’ve made many great friends over my 12 years in catering & hospitality which is one of the many benefits this wonderful industry can offer, like one big family and this can often be the way to combat some of the stigma and mental health issues in our world.

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Jamie Lumsden

  • Facebook

When I joined the industry it was a place where nobody spoke about mental health because of a very outdated  style of attitude. By that I mean, mental health wellbeing was never approached because it was seen as a weakness. It wasn’t like physical health problems; if you couldn’t see it, it wasn’t real.  The only emotions that were accepted were anger and aggression; depression and anxiety were never on the chef’s table.

 

So, after 8 years as a professional chef and having suffered with my own mental health, I decided to become a life coach; to help other chef’s, who like me, also shared the same suffering of working in a professional kitchen. I am happy to be a part of the ongoing positive change that this industry has so bravely been taking on.

 

These days, 14 years since I cooked my first beef bourguignon, I’m a full-time life coach working with a variety of clients from all different backgrounds. The hospitality industry is something that I still hold very close to my heart. 

You can find me on Facebook @EssexLifeCoachingUK

Or on my website www.jamielumsdenlifecoach.com

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Troy Horner

  • Instagram

Hey folks, my name is Troy Currently an Executive Chef over multiple sites in Liverpool. But definitely a fully paid-up member of the Hospitality Industry for 30 years now and still going (& loving it).

I have worked all aspects of the industry, from Industrial catering to fine dining (even managed to fit in a couple of royal banquets).

With all of this experience it helps me teach and nurture future talents as a lecturer &

it is mainly whilst teaching that I have to emphasize the importance of mental health within the industry to my learners, because in my day nothing prepared you.

 

I have seen friends and colleagues fall out of love for the industry due to the demands placed on them, physically mentally and emotionally.

Now is the time to raise the awareness and get people talking about this very difficult subject and promote the Burnt Chef Project as much as we can.

 

I am here if you need me, just look me up and remember…

 

You Got this

&

 We’ve Got Your Back!!!!!

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Ryan Ashall

  • Twitter

I fell in Love with cooking when I was 16. I worked as a waiter and they were short in the kitchen one day and I got asked to help out. It’s safe to say I stumbled upon cooking but my passion started there.

I Joined the Royal Navy (RN) in 2005 and have spent the last 15 years loving what I do. I’ve been privileged enough to represent the RN in many culinary competitions worldwide. My greatest achievement to date was when I was asked to cook for Her Majesty the Queen for HMS Ocean’s decommissioning ceremony.

 

The RN is such a diverse place and I’ve been very lucky to work with people from many different backgrounds. What I’ve found though is no matter your background everyone is susceptible to some form of Mental Health issue at some point, something I have witnessed too many times.

 

I want to be the type of person that can say to my wife and kids that I’m part of an initiative that helps change lives for the better!

The Burnt Chef Project are doing amazing things to support so many people in our industry.

Let’s tackle this stigma together!

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Harry Kimberley

  • Instagram

In 2013, I started working in the hospitality industry in Dorset (aged 17) and climbed the ranks to management level, gaining hugely valuable experience in a supportive workplace.

 

In 2019 I left Bournemouth to try my hand in London, where I managed one of the most reputable live music bars in Soho, and then took on the challenge of running the most in demand restaurants on the Kings Road, Chelsea. These experiences have given me immense enjoyment, but have also shown me the huge challenges we face in our industry and the impact this can have on our mental health. 

 

We all recognise the hours are long and no day is the same, which can be difficult. The number one goal in the hospitality industry is to make people happy, to go that extra mile to make someone’s day, but we must remember the importance of ensuring staff are working in a satisfying, happy environment that makes the long anti sociable hours worth it. 

 

Each year we find ourselves becoming braver and stronger with regard to mental health openness, in a world that is beginning to become more accepting. Help is more readily available, and thankfully, through the fantastic work that the Burnt Chef project does, we can continue to unite as a community to confront the stigma

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Nick Wood

  • Instagram

I have been a chef for over 30 years and absolutely love my job and everything about it.

Also believe this is the best industry to be in.

One of my goals is to help create a positive mindset where learning, training and development comes naturally to everyone in the kitchen and everyone has a desire to succeed and fulfill their own goals.

However as an industry we must all come together to crush the stigma over mental health and encourage people to talk & open up.

 

Having suffered myself I fully understand the importance of talking.

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Callum Dunne

  • Instagram

I'm Callum and have been in the industry 5 years now. Working in hospitality is not easy, everything starts to take it's toll and that's where we start to get hit the most.

My aim is to link the hospitality industry together in our battle against the stigma and disease that is mental health and find new friends and inspiration along the way.

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Ben Ryan

  • LinkedIn

Hi, I’m Ben Ryan an operations specialist.
My career within the hospitality sector began at a young age working for the family business.
I headed up one of the most iconic venues in Borough Market, Vinopolis/Vinum restaurants and have also worked for various restaurants in London’s West End.  Currently I’m helping an independent group grow from strength to strength.


In this industry, we get to enjoy working with amazing people and establishing long term friendships.
Now nearly 25yrs down the line, I still get a buzz but sometimes it can be tough and that’s why its now time to promote the Burnt Chef project and support each other through mental health.


Having a conversation about mental health has the power to make a big difference so please do reach out.


Keep up the good work and stay safe!
 

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Chris O'Neill

  • LinkedIn

I have been within the industry for over 20 years.  As a classically trained chef I have gained vast experience across many sectors from hotels to education.

The industry sucked me in from the very first moment I stepped into a professional kitchen and still love it to this day.

As a development chef today I visit and spend time with lots of chefs across all sectors and levels.  Having spent a long time on furlough due to the pandemic I had to get my own mental health in check. Which resulted in a change of diet, exercise and long walks with mans best friend.

The Burnt Chef Project has enabled me to understand mental health and want to help break the stigma and educate people I meet professionally and socially.

“It’s good to talk”

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Ethan Kilburn

  • Instagram

 I have been in industry for about 9 years, since I was 15 and it’s my life. As much as I love this beautiful industry I hate the stigma that comes attached to the job of a chef. 

 

The fact that chefs don’t feel as though they can ask for help because they feel scared or embarrassed, because asking for help isn’t ‘manly’ or ‘hardened’ or because Someone “never did it in their day”

 

This is a completely ‘old school’ way of teaching and working. I look forward to a future where this style is eradicated and when chefs can work at a high level without the unneeded extra stress that is added into kitchens by chefs all over the country.

 

The actions of causing constant anxiety and added stress is completely unnecessary and not only that but counter productive and intuitive. This will never be the way to get the best out of your team.

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Liam Goddard

  • Instagram

I have been a chef ever since leaving school, working my way up the ladder to Head Chef. Ever since being a young child I never wanted to do anything but cook and bring people enjoyment and happiness through my food. At times during my career this has come at the cost of my own mental health and happiness. Mental health can effect people of any age and you truly do not know who is suffering, feeling like they have the whole weight of the world on their shoulders with no way out. 

 

I have been there myself leading me onto a bad path in life, resorting to bad habits and bottling my feelings up. However finally speaking out and surrounding myself with the right Influences completely changed my mindset into a positive one. 

 

Coming out of the other end of bad mental health and depression makes you feel so strong and like you can take on the world. Makes you push yourself to be a better person ever day and  break any obstacles you face.

 

Times can be so hard in this industry and you may feel like giving up but just know you will get past it and good times are ahead. I am living proof of that.

 

With talking and opening up, surrounding yourself with good people and leading a healthy lifestyle you can defeat anything. Together we can break the stigma of mental health.

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Giovann Attard

  • Instagram

Hi there, I am Giovann Attard and I am 31 years old. I have been working in the industry for over 15 years. Since a very a young age I have always shown the interest in cooking and as soon as I have stepped into my first professional kitchen I was sucked into this amazing journey that I don’t regret not even for a second. Someone once told me ‘do what you love and you won’t work a day in your life!’ and until a certain point this is very true as probably I won’t be still doing what I do.

 

Although saying all this, through the years pressure starts building up and without even realising you are working endless hours, eating patterns disappear, your social life is just non-existent and so on. This is of course because you want to reach higher and higher and do better and achieve more in your career. This is when your mental health starts taking a toll. I have myself experienced this and I was lucky enough to say to myself stop, do something about it and change these patterns.

 

I have turned to running and this completely changed the way I look at everything. I signed up to a full marathon with a charity and boy this was the best thing that I have ever done!

I put my health, my mental health first!!

 

And this is why “The Burnt Chef Project” is absolutely an organization that this industry needs, that all of us chefs need. We ourselves need to spread awareness and make a change! I am willing to do every bit I can and this is why I want to work with ‘The Burnt Chef Project” to be a stronger force. 

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Jonathan Sutcliffe-Bland

Hi I'm Jonathan, I'm a classically trained chef, and manager with a hint of support and mobilisation, and a pinch of HR.

 

Enthusiastic, committed and self-motivated, I have gained extensive experience in the catering sector, which I have worked

in for the past 32 years starting out as a chef before progressing to management 19 years ago. I have worked in a variety of

catering establishments, classing myself as a true all-rounder in the industry. Working closely with both the kitchen and front

of house teams, in particular I am proud to have learned how to encourage, train and motivate others. 

 

Having struggled both physically and mentally with my weight over the last 5 years I took up mindfulness, mediation, and exercise. I went teetotal, took up running, and started dieting. Awaiting results...

 

The Burnt Chef Project is an amazing platform that I found last year when I was first furloughed. It raises awareness of mental health within the industry and understands that all lives matter. I would love to be more involved as an ambassador and help to spread the word and continue to focus on the people who need support.

 

Therefore, I have signed up to be an ambassador of the Burnt Chef Project, I want to help promote awareness of mental health and wellbeing within this wonderful industry

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Matthew Crossland

  • Instagram

 I have been in industry for about 9 years, since I was 15 and it’s my life. As much as I love this beautiful industry I hate the stigma that comes attached to the job of a chef. 

 

The fact that chefs don’t feel as though they can ask for help because they feel scared or embarrassed, because asking for help isn’t ‘manly’ or ‘hardened’ or because Someone “never did it in their day”

 

This is a completely ‘old school’ way of teaching and working. I look forward to a future where this style is eradicated and when chefs can work at a high level without the unneeded extra stress that is added into kitchens by chefs all over the country.

 

The actions of causing constant anxiety and added stress is completely unnecessary and not only that but counter productive and intuitive. This will never be the way to get the best out of your team.

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Matthew Gadsden

  • Instagram

Hi there, my name's Matt. I come from Crawley and I've been in the hospitality industry for just over 10 years; working in all sorts of kitchens. At the moment I am a Senior Sous Chef for one of the Brunning & Price pubs. I worked my way up starting off being a kitchen porter and even became a duty manager of a 5* hotel for a bit doing reception, events, restaurant and even housekeeping. I'm not going to lie.. I wasn't great at that..

 

Being type 1 diabetic I was told I would struggle being a chef. I went out of my way to prove those people wrong. I know first hand mental health can have a massive impact on all of our lives and it's important that we make a stand by doing more as a community to make mental health a much more talked about problem in our trade. I've seen it take over the best of people. When I was first introduced into the trade I was made to believe that you can't talk about it and that if you did, you're weak.

 

We need to change this mentality / image we hold as an industry. 

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Dave Lee

  • Instagram

My name is Dave Lee. This is my 10th year working in hospitality. I am currently an Estate Sous Chef of a prestigious Hotel in the West of Ireland. Having began my career in Ireland , I moved onto London, The Channel Islands and beyond. Few other industries offer the diversity found in hospitality, although it is offbeat and not viewed as the status quo - it can be incredibly rewarding in many different ways. To hit the heights of a career in hospitality, I am a firm believer in looking after your mental health. I have experienced the highest of highs and the oh so very lows and have struggled with my own mental health. I am sure many other chefs have found 2020 and now 2021 the toughest time in their working lives and have struggled with their mental health, just like I have. The Burnt Chef Project was a ray of light - none of us are on our own!

The Burnt Chef Project is a special platform to support one another through talking about issues in our industry, to educate ourselves and others in our kitchens on improving wellness and mental health, as well as to enlighten our colleagues with tools to help keep a healthy mind when we are not in the kitchen.

#FUCKSTIGMA

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David Hampshaw

  • LinkedIn

My name is David Hampshaw and from a very early age I knew that the hospitality life was one that would take me around the globe for life enhancing experiences and after graduating from Uni I started to work my way up the career ladder and have been lucky enough to manage successfully in multiple hospitality environments, meeting some amazing human beings on the way.
I am currently one of directors at Hargreaves Enterprises up in the beautiful English lake district, we are leisure, food and accommodation business with multiple venues.
The industry has many amazing benefits, when the highs are high, they are very high but the lows can be crushing, we have all had that horrendous shift! The lows can lead to increases in the disharmony of mind and soul.
2020 has been tough on the industry and through Covid 19 we can see how hard it has been to adapt physically by transforming our business and emotionally through retraining and supporting our staff and supporting their development and mental health through an unpredictable time.
We have seen many changes in our staffs well-being and its essential that we educate ourselves and give our staff the support they need to come through this journey back to health together and keep the industry alive, if we have the tools to support them then we are half way back to recovery.
I am delighted to support the Burnt Chef Project as it will be invaluable to reengaging with our staff and relaunching our businesses

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Oliver Grieve

  • Instagram

"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."

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Aaron Adraneda

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.

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Olivier Certain

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.

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Stuart Conibear

  • Instagram

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.

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Wayne Barnard

  • Instagram

"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."

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Phil Buckley

  • Facebook

"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"

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Melinda Dorn

  • LinkedIn

"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."

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Eugene Nyaundi

  • Instagram

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.

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Ian Mark (Bear)

  • Instagram

"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!”

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Werner J Hartholt

  • Instagram

"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."

 

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Jake Dolin

  • Instagram

"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."

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Chris Lambird

  • Instagram

"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."

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Helen Nathan

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. 

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Jimmy Taylor

  • Instagram

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.

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Lionell Zulu

  • Instagram

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.

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Joe Hammond

“ 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!”

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Alexander Wilson

"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."

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Lee Bryan

"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!"        

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Morgan Hanlon

  • Instagram

"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." 

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Patrick Leibache

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!

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Halima Ramos-Ferrerira

  • Instagram

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"

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Jake Mills

  • Instagram

"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."

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Callum Brown

  • Instagram

"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."

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Kieran Tracey

"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 "

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Nattaphon Othanawathkij

  • Instagram

"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. “

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Pete Goodwin

  • LinkedIn

"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."

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Lara Norman

  • Instagram

"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."

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Scott Pisani

  • Instagram

"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."