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.
I have worked as a chef for the last 20 years across a variety of sectors of the industry including running my own catering company for the last 18 months.
I love what I do but there are side effects to working within the industry, I have worked through stress, time pressure, struggling with work/life balance and have coped with them in a manner of ways some healthy and some not so much, these experience have shaped how I deal and manage these issues today.
I want to create a culture within my business that lines up with the ethos of The Burnt Chef Project to promote, encourage and support the mental wellness within my team.
I’m honoured to be a Burnt Chef ambassador and to be able to support and promote the fantastic work being done by Kris and his team.
I have been a Chef for over 10 years, cooking and hospitality have been my passion for as long as I can remember however, I have also suffered along the way with my mental health and how it has affected me in my career.
I met my partner last year and she has supported me in a way that I haven't experienced before. Through her charity and The Burnt Chef Project’s posts on social media, it has given me hope that there is help and support out there and we as chefs are definitely not on our own.
As an Ambassador for the project I want to show my personal support and help others get through their struggles just as I had to go through mine. I really do believe this movement will improve and change the trade forever and it will no longer be labelled as a "Thankless job" and,in fact, will be viewed more in admiration.
I have been a chef for over 30 years and absolutely love my job and everything about it. I 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.
Ever since I could crawl my favourite place to be was the kitchen. I am grateful to have a job where I can bring happiness through food and an escape from reality through the palette. Cooking is a never ending learning path which is the beauty of it.
I started working in small, local restaurants and bakeries, working up to Michelin-starred ventures through hard work, passion and sacrifices. I’ve met some inspiring souls and mentors on this journey who have made me mentally and physically stronger in the kitchen and away from the stoves. We chefs are all adrenaline junkies at heart or we wouldn’t be in this industry, but I have experienced first-hand the negative aspects of working in a high-pressure environment.
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.
I have been in the hospitality industry for 13 years on a national and international level working in a variety of fine dining restaurants, pubs, 5*hotels and private catering companies
I have witnessed many mental health issues that our industry faces and I'm glad to see that we are finally addressing these problems. I have had several chefs within my teams that have had mental health issues and I strongly believe that I could make a change alongside the Burnt Chef Project.
Together we can influence perception of mental health within the industry we all love.
The awareness of how mental health affects this industry will be essential and the continued work of the Burnt Chef Project is invaluable to me.
I have been a chef for over 20 years with experience working in a variety of different culinary environments across the UK and Ireland. Through my journey with food, I have had wonderful opportunities, met amazingly talented chefs and learnt my craft, gaining a deeper understanding of what this industry can give to chefs… but also what it can take away.
I have felt and witnessed first-hand the impact of this highly demanding industry on chef’s mental health and how quickly things can spiral out of control.
I aim to challenge the stigma around mental health in hospitality, encouraging and teaching younger chef’s better ways of recognising and managing stress. Creating an environment where chefs feel they can be open about their struggles without the fear of judgement or criticism.
I am excited and honoured to be a Burnt Chef Ambassador and to be part of a project I feel will be a real catalyst for change.
(East Lothian, Scotland)
I am passionate about offering a work life balance and supporting the team after having children. I suffered post natal depression after having my first baby. During this time I had little time off and worked 12 hour shifts 6 days a week. It was extremely difficult and I missed my wife and 3 week old daughter very much.
I now work for the Bon Vivant group. I am opening the new restaurant on the Royal Mile called Luckenbooths. I have had my second baby and feel nothing but support from my new employer. Having a family is life changing in all the great ways and some challenging ways. Hospitality members should not be made to feel like they have to choose.
I started working in kitchens when I was 16. I was young, naive and had no idea what I had got myself into. 11 years later, I realise how different my experiences could have been if I had had someone guide me through my first few years. I have experienced and witnessed abuse both mental and physical, as well as drug and alcohol abuse.
I’m now 3 years sober. I am a head chef at a restaurant in my hometown and I want to help change how young chefs are employed and trained- to highlight pitfalls in the trade, to watch out for dangers in the industry and teach them to navigate the kitchen knowing their self worth.
I want to keep working against the issues in this industry and help show that abuse, threats and hot headed behaviour in hospitality is not the best way to motivate staff. And I want to see what people can accomplish together.
I have worked in the hospitality industry since I was 15 years old, from KP to Head Chef. I studied at Westminster Kingsway College and then worked my way up in restaurants and pubs throughout Dorset and Hampshire.
Along the way, I found myself sinking into a hole of anxiety and depression, fuelled by exhaustion and burnout. Thanks to The Burnt Chef Project, I came out the other side. I found Butcombe pub group and I have not looked back.
I hope being an Ambassador means I can help one person get through a bad experience like I did.
I’ve been a chef for most of my working life. After all these years I am still passionately amazed by our profession. I have been lucky to work and meet great people from all around the world, sharing ideas, methods, and passion for creating sensory experiences and giving lifetime memories for customers eating our food.
Coming from France, and from the generation where the “can take it all” attitude was a must to have, I was no different, I learned the hard way and the sacrifice that comes with a chef's life. Although very rewarding, our vocation comes with a cost for yourself, your colleagues and the ones that share your life around you.
I heard of The Burnt Chef Project through a sous chef, and I immediately adopted the philosophy as a working tool for myself and the team. Being an ambassador means that I will be able to not only create a work environment that promotes a work life balance but also promote health physically and mentally.
My background in Hospitality has spanned 20 years; 15 years working for a food supplier, and 6 years in my current role as Senior Recruiter for Platinum Recruitment. Throughout my whole career, I have been forming close relationships with Chefs up and down the country. Many have become close, personal friends.
Lockdown hit our industry hard and in its darkest hour we lost some of our greatest Chefs to mental health problems.
For me, The Burnt Chef Project represents more than just a great non-profit organisation. They are a beacon of light for those who need it most, a shoulder of support on our toughest of days and a hope for the future of all hospitality staff in the UK and beyond. It is an honour to be considered an ambassador for the Burnt Chef Project and I look forward to spreading news of the magnificent work of all who are involved.
Having spent the past 20 plus years working in a large cross section of the hospitality industry I was engulfed in the macho culture around chefs; not taking time off sick regardless of how unwell you where, working all the hours under the sun and wearing it all with a proud “you can’t break me” smile.
Not until I faced my own mental health challenges did I truly start to see how bad things had got within the industry. Having the support of my wife and 2 beautiful daughters is what pulled me through. Chefs are notoriously bad at asking for support as it is still falsely seen as showing weakness. I love the Burnt Chef Project for giving people a voice and giving others like the ambassadors a platform to help wherever they can.
This is the reason I applied to be an Ambassador and I’m proud to be part of the Burnt Chef Project Family.
I have worked closely over the years with mental health organisations and recognise the need for action and reform within the hospitality sector.
From long unsociable hours to the enormous pressures daily work brings, hospitality can be extremely hard. But it can also be incredibly rewarding, bringing a close family like bond that no other sector can touch and a feeling of incredible achievement.
I hope to be able to aid people in this industry find the tools to cope better with daily life while also improving the well-being of my team.
Hospitality has been a huge part of my life now for almost 20 years, predominantly as a chef. It has been an amazing rollercoaster ride with a crazy mix of awesome highs and some incredibly difficult lows.
Sadly, like many others, I have experienced mental health difficulties and burn out during this time and witnessed others who have suffered due to the effects and pressures the industry can have on your physical and mental health and directly on your personal life.
In the past, support for those suffering was distinctly lacking (especially in hospitality) so I was very pleased to see The Burnt Chef Project launch and go from strength to strength. I'm passionate about spreading this important message and helping other people by relating to my own experiences.
Times are changing and hospitality is coming together to create a force for good. It's time to protect the future welfare of the amazing talented individuals that work in hospitality and encourage younger people into the trade.
I've worked in hospitality for over 10 years and fell in love with such a great industry. I've worked in various front and back of house operational roles for 5* hotels, contract caterers and award-winning restaurants. I've seen first-hand how important speaking about mental health is with colleagues and friends.
Working under pressure and meeting deadlines is part of our everyday work and we should have the support network and techniques to ensure our team members don't feel isolated or alone with these pressures.
We know it's ok to be not ok, so let's keep this conversation going, spread the word and be a champion for each other and the hospitality industry. We can do this, together
As a former chef, and with over 30 years’ experience in foodservice,
I have a great passion & connection with the catering industry. It's
amazing to see how it has changed over the years, and to see how
everyone is becoming more connected to each other, through shared
I've supported the project from the early days because of this
passion; and because it is so important to have a support function to
help you talk, and destigmatize mental health.
This is true in all walks of life but especially in our challenging
and demanding industry.
I am extremely proud to be an Ambassador for The Burnt Chef Project
and will continue to raise awareness, spread the word and F**k the
My first job was washing dishes in a family run Thai restaurant when I was 14. Later on, I completed an apprenticeship and a diploma in Hospitality Management. This was to give myself a more rounded front and back understanding of hospitality. I worked my way up to a sous chef level at a Canadian upscale chain, before moving to Hong Kong. Working in Hong Kong provided me with countless opportunities for pop-ups internationally, as well as an amazing lifestyle.
When Covid-19 struck, I started looking into more development training for myself as a leader, which is when I started my training as a life coach. During Covid-19 I moved to Glasgow with my partner, where I am currently working in my first Head Chef role. I have become certified as a coach, to provide support in a healthy way to my peers and chefs around the world.
I was hooked by The Burnt Chef Project from the first time that it popped up on my social media. My desire today is to mentor and educate the next generation of chefs- to accept that it's ok not to be ok.
I am in my 30th year cooking as a professional chef, an industry fuelled by extremes. To counter the highs and the lows I fed multiple addictions to either maintain the highs or mask the lows. Depression, low self esteem, the abject feeling of fear of failure are accepted symptoms of climbing the kitchen ranks. These symptoms were seen by all as a badge of honor and the trauma passed through the ranks.
Together, let's break the stigma.
Let’s celebrate the joy that food brings.
Today I am sober in every form, I am no longer tired of life and this amazing project has played a part in my maintaining that.
My parents wouldn’t let me go to college saying “Get out there and earn a wage, you won’t get rich as a chef”.
But I wouldn’t change the last 10 years in Gelato as they have been amazing and have been the happiest in the workplace. I have met some truly amazing people in the kitchen. I wish I had done it years ago to be honest.
Since my 20’s I have suffered from depression. When I look back and I wish there had been someone I could have reached out too. I was told I was lazy and that you can’t stick at anything . But all along I was struggling and trying to find my place in the world. It’s a horrible dark road but through talking to the Burnt Chef Project, I know I can make a difference and make others aware that it's ok not to feel ok.
I began working in hospitality at a very young age, and like many other young chefs I was attracted to the loud and exciting nature of working in the kitchen. Almost 18 years later, I’ve made my way through the Michelin star kitchens of Europe and high-end pastry to become an Executive chef in Manchester.
As chefs in senior roles, we have a responsibility to create a safe and happy environment for young hospitality workers to come on-board and develop. We also should take it upon ourselves to filter out toxic behaviour so the industry can once again thrive with positivity.
I became interested in the Burnt Chef Project shortly before my own burn-out a number of years ago, since then I’ve taken a keen interest in providing support for other hospitality workers so they can develop the tools to manage their emotions and personal experiences in a healthy way.
I started in hospitality at 16, when there was no awareness of mental health. Within restaurants, I felt I had found ‘my place’. In reality, along with all the good, I had found somewhere to hide.
When I hit a particularly dark point in my personal life, I worked every hour both FOH and BOH to hide. I ceased to be a person, other than that job title. Due to this I got promotion after promotion but it reinforced dangerous behaviors which then took years to unpick.
It was stepping into the role of Ops Manager & HR Manager that opened my eyes. I saw all these amazing team members, who I cared about, who were burning themselves out. I promised that I would try and make a difference.
The Burnt Chef Project inspired me. I was amazed that someone had seen what I had seen but was brave enough and dreamt big enough to challenge it. I am honored to be a part of this team who want to be a force for good within our incredible industry.