Meet The UK & Ireland Team
I support the project because it is about standing up and saying that it is ok to speak up and not be judged for saying that you are struggling. It shows so much strength to speak out and you should not be ashamed. The Industry needs to change and embrace what goes on in the environment.
We as an industry need to change by looking out for the people that serve our great profession. It can only start from the Owners, CEOS and all the way down to the General Managers and the Floor Managers. I love this industry that I have been a part of for so long. The Burnt Chef Project is seriously making massive waves to raise awareness and instigate change. I couldn’t not support it!
I progressed through the ranks of a chain steakhouse in south London, at 22 was head chef, and wanted to learn more and so joined Carluccios as sous and learned about how to become a leader and manager in a more productive way. As well as travelling the length of the UK as a chef, I trained to a Michelin level in Italy, and became an operations chef leading to openings cooker demos and more with Antonio. Then moved into an Executive role covering the UK with Jamies Italian. The workload and pressure became immense, and found my mental health and relationships change.
Realising this, I moved to an exec role in a local garden centre where I learned to manage my mental and physical health. When the pandemic hit it gave me the opportunity to train in mental health, and support others but also lose my role as an exec with a small group in Manchester. The Burnt Chef Project is something i wish I had at the start of my journey to recognise the signs, but so proud to be a part of it now to support those coming into the industry, and support the cause to help those understand it too.
Marc 'Sparky' Davies
I’ve been a chef now for 18 years working in all areas of the kitchen from Grill to Head Chef in a variety of establishments 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. This industry is great fun, and also hard work, but the satisfaction of imparting 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 chef’s 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.
I have worked in hospitality for over 20 years. When I started there was no mention of mental health, it was frowned upon if you were off sick and a badge of honour to work 14-hour days 6 days a week.
Chefs don’t feel like they can speak up and ask for help and they don’t know where to seek help. That’s why I want to be part of the Burnt Chef Project; to spread the word that it's healthy to talk and it’s important to seek help when you need it.
During a difficult period of my life where my thoughts were extremely dark, I didn’t know what to do or how I could feel “good” again. In the end it was the support from my wife and the love of my three kids that brought me back to being me again.
The Burnt Chef Project is exactly what our industry needs, and I am proud to be a chief ambassador.
I have been working in hospitality since I was 16, I have always loved food and loved my job. We all know that the hours are going to be long the stress/pressure is going to be high. But when I started to struggle with my mental health, I was disappointed at the response when I asked for help. I was so angry that I had given my all but was treated so badly when I needed supporting.
Now I am in a much better place, I still have my bad days, but I know how to get back into a positive mind set. I now look back at that situation of asking for help and realised that the people I spoke to had no training or exposure to this before. If more people spoke about mental health and more training was provided, then these situations would never happen again. Education and awareness are key to breaking the sigma surrounding negative mental health.
I have worked in hospitality for close on 35 years now, starting as a breakfast chef in the Outer Hebrides, working across the world in various roles and now owning my own businesses in Bangor Northern Ireland- where I can still be found behind the pass on occasion.
I believe hospitality can be a great career, it has been for me, and have always had an aim to make hospitality a first-choice career for youngsters. In recent years, I have come to realise that the way we look after our people is key and mental health at the heart of that.
Having lost a couple of staff members to drugs in recent years, dealt with the consequences of mental health issues in others, and been diagnosed with depression myself (completely by accident) The Burnt Chef Project and its message came at just the right time. I believe this message is vitally important for the industry in Northern Ireland right now and hope to make sure it is heard loud and clear.
I’ve worked my way up from a commis, sweeping floors in a bakery to becoming a Chef Consultant. My journey has taken me all over the world but there was a price to pay for those extremely long, demanding, unsociable hours. A complete lack of holiday time, no time for myself or family and friends, making it impossible to create a balance in my life.
Not long ago I pushed myself to the point of complete burn out, emotionally, physically and mentally. Now I hope to empower others to step up and join this incredible movement and to speak out.
Whilst Covid-19 has been no joy ride for any of us, it has afforded me time to study and work on other areas of my life. One of these has been to work with The Burnt Chef Project, and I’m really grateful for the resources they’ve made available. I realised I wanted to help other chefs and raise awareness in my industry - to change the stigma and create a new ‘workplace culture’ that nurtures and supports their team.
Being a Chief Ambassador for The Burnt Chef Project is an absolute honour! I see this as my opportunity to really make a change within our industry. Hospitality is a fantastic industry- it just needs some help to make it a sustainable option for the future.
We need to make the changes now to ensure it continues to thrive. Can you believe that only 5% of students leaving schools see hospitality as a realistic option for them to enter into? This stems from a bad reputation and misinformation that is passed on generation to generation. If we can make improvements from working hours, employer benefits and mental health awareness to make it a better place to be, we may have a chance to secure this industry as a real option for people to come into.
We can do this by raising awareness, sharing good practice, giving training to staff, students and employers. Collectively, these things that The Burnt Chef Project does will make the difference and the change that is well overdue
I’m currently a Managing Director for a hospitality training provider. I started working in the hospitality industry when I just turned 18. Initially working in pubs I 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. It was at that point I decided to go into training.
My best friend suffered for many years with her mental health. Sadly, she wasn’t given enough of the right support she needed. I choose to support The Burnt Chef Project so I can raise awareness to help somebody get the correct help they need when they need it.
In 2013, I started working in the hospitality industry in Dorset and progressed to management level, gaining hugely valuable experience in a supportive workplace. In 2019, I went to London, where I managed a reputable live music bar 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 also shown me the challenges in our industry and the impact this has on 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 go that extra mile to make someone’s day, but we must remember the importance of ensuring staff are working in a satisfying environment that makes the long anti-social hours worth it.
Each year we find ourselves becoming braver and stronger with mental health openness. Help is becoming 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.
I am aiming to be one of the first hospitality venues to be BCorp accredited. I feel the values around BCorp in terms of supporting staff, the planet and the local community and using business as a force for good link up very nicely with the aims of the Burnt Chef Project. I have also had a background in experiencing burnout first hand and I wrote a book about my story of setting up a wedding and events venue called The Wellbeing Farm, purposely designed to improve people's wellbeing. We openly discuss mental health and wellbeing in my business and I have completed mental health awareness training etc. I am also a former NHS Director with qualifications in stress management and wellbeing. My bio can be viewed at www.celiagaze.com
Having worked in hospitality for over 20 years across 8 countries and 3 continents I have experienced the best the industry has to offer.
I have also experienced how demanding and absorbing it can be and the perception of what you have to do to succeed; working long hours, traveling, high pressure environments and how poor culture can heavily impact someone's health and potential.
The last few years have shown that our teams need more support, help and the opportunity to talk. Now is the time for every business to educate their leaders to break down the stigma and stereotypes and help our teams achieve their best potential, and give them a platform to be comfortable to speak about how they feel.
I am extremely proud to be an Ambassador for The Burnt Chef Project because they are advocating for change on such an important topic that is impacting our industry today. Through awareness comes change and I hope to be able to help make a difference.