Meet The American Team
My first job in the hospitality industry was at the age of 15 in a pizzeria and I immediately fell in love with the restaurant business. For many years, the hustle & bustle, long hours, No Days off, and missing all family activities didn’t faze me, until eventually one day it did….
I joined the burnt chef project to tell my story and to help others understand that it is OK! to ask for help. To me, asking for help seemed to be a sign of weakness; but what I later learned was that it is a sign of strength.
It is possible to create a meaningful life in this industry; but we must create balance, draw boundaries, and live mindfully.
I am extremely grateful and honored to be a burnt chef project ambassador. I look forward to being a part of this revolution to disrupt the industry that I love and eradicate the mental health stigma within hospitality.
I started in the hospitality industry 24 years ago in a small brewing company in Alaska age 14. That experience fueled my passion for the culinary arts and by age 16, I knew I was going to be a chef. I went to culinary school at Scottsdale Culinary Institute Le Cordon Bleu, where I received my Associate’s Degree.
Through my time in the hospitality industry, I have worked under some great chefs and love mentoring others. I am a Pro Chef mentor through The Culinary Institute of America and instruct any chance I can at Christian Culinary Academy in Cannon Beach, Oregon.
I now live in Washington and have spent time traveling throughout the Pacific Northwest looking for adventure, places to forage and promoting the beauty of our unique cuisine.
Like many hospitality workers, I have struggled with mental health. I never felt there was a comfortable place to express my challenges. As an ambassador in the USA my goal is to ensure there is always a safe space to work through the mental struggles we face in our industry.
(Saratoga Springs, NY)
For over 20 years now I have continued to find myself in kitchens. I fell in love with kitchens from the dishpit. I have the privilege to be a part of so many people's lives by simply cooking.
In all these years good was never good enough, I had to get better and be better. As the Sous Chef to a Certified Master Chef for over a decade- it always had to be better. Numerous ACF competition gold medals hid the hole growing inside of me. I became so disconnected to who I really was that I couldn't tell the true from the false. Bottom was hit. I am lucky to have hit it once.
Because of support of programs like The Burnt Chef Project I have found my passion in people. Using my personal story to show anything is possible. I have been named manager of the year for the largest hospitality company in the world and I recruit and train culinary students from across the globe.
The kitchen has always brought me joy, a rush of adrenaline and a way to bury my thoughts and provoke creativity. I obtained formal training and a degree in Culinary Arts from Johnson and Wales University. From there my adventure continued to restaurants, catering companies and classic hotels such as the Hotel Intercontinental in Sydney Australia and the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver, Colorado. Just as my career was on the move I was crashing hard into a wall and eventually burnt out. I needed to make a change and decided to join the US Military. My path in the military is not a traditional one however I continue to serve in some capacity of hospitality through the range of jobs I have had.
If the Burnt Chef project was around as I was coming up through the ranks or even having the awareness of kitchen mental health would have been a game changer. To have an opportunity and the ability to reach out, communicate feelings of unease to a peer group that is there to help and can relate is the shoulder we all need to lean on. Having the opportunity to be part of this project for those who need that escape is thrilling. If we want to learn a new skill we seek out a coach or a teacher, the attitude needs to be the same with mental health.Find that coach.
WE are a community! We are a support network! We are Hospitality!
I have been in the culinary scene for over 20 years. I have started as a Pantry Chef and worked hard to get to where I am now. I will never forget the sound of a ticket machine and the adrenalin that comes along with that. Through my years in the restaurant world, I dealt with ups and downs. I have dealt with long hours which leads to no social life. I have dealt with emotions and I have seen a lot of emotions. Culinary life is stressful, and it is sometimes hard for others to empathize. We strive for perfection and making others happy, that is a lot to handle. Mental health is like a dinner rush, but it is up to you how you want to handle it.
I joined the Burnt Chef Project because I believe. I am here to listen and share my story because that might be helpful.
With over fourteen years in the hospitality industry, I have cultivated my culinary skills and expertise in creating plant-based cuisine. However, my pursuits extend beyond the kitchen. As I worked with clients, I realized the importance of nourishing bodies and also understanding their mental and emotional well-being. This revelation sparked my curiosity, leading me to explore functional and adaptogenic medicines and recognize the significance of mental health in overall wellness.
My journey of self-discovery has been a kaleidoscope of practices and philosophies, immersing myself in yoga, somatic practices, and transformative modalities like Kundalini and Sufi breathwork. My expertise with cooking, combined with personal experiences of overcoming struggles with substance abuse disorder, has deepened my commitment to supporting others on their healing and recovery using food as a vehicle.
Through study, exploration and transformative practices, I have gained unique insights and a profound understanding of resilience. It is my mission to use my knowledge and experiences to make a positive impact by assisting others in their healing and growth.
I am currently enlisted as a culinary specialist in the United States Navy as of March 2008. My military background has given me a great deal of experience when assisting cooks, peers and mentees with mental health and life situations while still maintaining food service operation.
When off duty I operate and own my private company Roman Shield Inc named after my son Roman diagnosed with Autism during Covid.
I am honored to represent The Burnt Chef Project and pay forward with my undivided attention and support.
I’ve been working in restaurants for 25+ years. I have had amazing highs and lows in this industry. I’ve made many good friends, and lost some too.
I have seen addiction first hand. I used to wear the scars, the long hours, lack of sleep, and chaos that comes from a very high paced and stressful environment, like a badge of honor. I have missed many birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays.
I almost lost both of my daughters to suicide, and I had to take a long hard look in the mirror. I had to come to terms with the fact I was pushing myself to extremes, not being there for those that needed me. I had to learn how to talk, express my feelings, and listen to other people, and myself, and that it is absolutely ok to talk about mental health.
I heard about BCP on social media, and knew that I wanted to do what I could to help others in this industry that we love, and say F*&% Stigma.
I am a mother, wife, businesswoman, and self-proclaimed Hospitality Hustler with nearly two decades of hospitality experience. With a passion for storytelling and customer engagement, I evolved my career from Executive Management & Operations to Branding & Marketing. I am now the founder of Hospitality Bites Media and Host of Hospitality Bites, a podcast with a purpose.
Like so many in the hospitality space, I often found myself down and out, living to chase the high of a great night of tips and socialization, but I was suffering on the inside, and it wasn't until I started sharing my experiences did I find that I wasn't alone.
Through my show, and now as an Ambassador, bringing awareness to these struggles, I hope to destigmatize, enlighten, and normalize a more realistic expectation of this industry. I look forward to sharing resources with our industry friends through The Burnt Chef Project.
I have worked in hospitality since the age of 15 starting off as a busboy and dishwasher. Over the years I have held positions from executive chef to Global Director of Culinary for a large contract foodservice company. During this time, I have had my share of challenges with burn out due to the day stress and everything that comes with the pressure of leading culinary teams. One of the keys to overcoming these challenges has been a healthy lifestyle which includes healthy eating, exercise, the elimination of alcohol and staying connected with like minded people.
I learned of The Burnt Chef Project through social media and wanted to become part of the team and help others. As an ambassador, my goal is to spread the word and break the stigma to make it more acceptable for people to speak out and understand it's ok to not be ok. Admitting that something is wrong is the first step in fixing whatever the issue is. Expressing your emotions is never a bad thing and if you are not ok, it's okay to say so.
I find the kitchen environment to be very enjoyable. There's a sense of connection with a group of people who are determined to overcome challenges. However, the long work days, missed social events, and constant high-pressure situations can all affect one's mental health. That's why I want to emphasize the importance of being proactive about mental health in the hospitality industry and encourage the leaders of hospitality organizations to take the right steps.
In the 15 years that I've worked in the hospitality industry, I've seen how difficult it can be, which is why I'm proud to be part of The Burnt Chef Project. Through this project, I aim to raise awareness and provide resources to my community. It's my responsibility to use my experience and knowledge to offer new perspectives to the new generation of hospitality workers and build a stronger community. Ultimately, I want to make being a Chef a truly fantastic job once again!