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We were overwhelmed at the response to our first Mental Heath Champion Award, thank you to everyone who took the time to nominate some very special people. So many of you came forward to share inspiring stories of people who were really making a difference. It was such a tough call to decide on the winner, and we had to be really strict with our judging criteria.

We’ve decided to also give out five commendations to some of the nominees who really stood out.

So without further ado...

Drum roll please...

The winner of the Mental Health Champion Award 2021 is Simon Barton

Simon is a Chef Lecturer at Doncaster College in the Catering and Hospitality department. Simon's drive to ensure mental health is at the forefront of teaching and learning for his students and staff within the Hospitality and Catering department is outstanding. He has continued to drive The Burnt Chef Project and his passion and dedication makes a massive impact which he has passed onto the wider team. Empowering his students, the future generation of the Hospitality and Catering industry to talk openly about mental health, opening debates and conversations, making it a normal everyday conversation.

Simon continually signposts all support services, locally and nationally. Since becoming an ambassador, Simon has dedicated an area to the project in college and has arranged a charity event to support the future generation ensuring that the college works hard to pass on all the information needed to a wider audience.

We felt Simon was a prime example of someone leading the way to inspire a happier, healthier and more sustainable future for our great industry.

His college wanted to pay special thanks to Simon for introducing them to The Burnt Chef Project in very difficult times while the industry struggled with lockdowns. ‘He arranged for online workshops from the Burnt Chef Project, this really made an impact to our staff and students who were struggling in isolation. Simon arranged for food pack ups and lessons still to take place, ensuring that important contact with vulnerable and isolated students with the support of the amazing catering team’.

Simon does all of this work alongside his teaching role and constantly embeds the importance of mental health daily. Simon is a truly outstanding teacher, colleague, and person. Someone the Catering and Hospitality industry should be enormously proud of.

Simon will be heading to the iconic Swinton Park Hotel. The Swinton Park Hotel sits at the heart of the 20,000 acre Swinton Estate on the edge of the beautiful Yorkshire Dales in North Yorkshire. He is invited to attend a reception hosted by the owners of the Swinton Estate, the Earl and Countess of Swinton, take dinner in Samuel’s Restaurant, and enjoy the country club and spa for a bit of R&R.

On winning, Simon said "What a privilege and an honour to be recognised by the project and my colleague who nominated and shared some humbling words. I love this project and what it stands for! The ambassadors and Kris are fantastic and such amazing support for myself our students, and the industry".

We’re sure you’ll put your hands together for Simon, the winner of the Mental Health Champion Award 2021.

We also wanted to highlight four people who were so close to the winning post, we felt they deserved recognition for the work they do.



Melinda Dorn

Melinda is relentless in her pursuit of offering resources and support to culinary professions. Through her outreach work with CHOW (Culinary Hospitality Outreach and Wellness), she has touched hundreds of people on their journey towards wellness and recovery. She is frank and open about her own journey in recovery, talking with pride and grace eliminating any stigma around recovery by leading by example, she is an excellent mental health advocate in our community, who goes above and beyond.


Imrun Texeira

Imrun continues to break the stigma of mental health. Imrun has written articles in Canadian news agents, recorded podcasts, and initiated fundraisers all around mental health within the hospitality sector. To see someone so young in age and the industry, but yet well established, he is using his platform to really lead and change the industry for the better in Canada. Overcoming physical and mental obstacles, he’s a true testament to the The Burnt Chef Project mission.


Paul Hyatt

Paul stood out for us because of his presence within his business and team. We were told of many instances of Paul highlighting what a true leader is, showing compassion, support, discretion and thoughtfulness, not only to his direct reports but to all members of staff with his calm and compassionate approach which has an immeasurable impact on the whole business. We think we all need a little more Paul in our lives.


Tony Lewis

Tony's burning passion was the clear highlight for us in his nominations. Someone who is always there to support, offer guidance and mainly, listen. His tenacity to ensure those around him are cared for and valued, making him easy to give this commendation to. Keep going Tony, you’re making a true difference to so many and your support is appreciated more than you could know.

Thank you once again to everyone who nominated, we loved reading all your stories of positive impact from these fantastic individuals.

Look out for 2022 nominations opening!

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