The Burnt Chef Project (a non-profit social enterprise) was setup back in 2019 off the back of countless conversations with friends and colleagues within hospitality who felt that they could not speak out about their mental health. Having experienced mental ill health in the past with depression, anxiety and identity crises I felt that I felt it was my moral duty to work against the stigma of this subject. Too many lives have been lost because of staying quiet.
The Burnt Chef Project was originally a photography campaign featuring black and white photographs of hospitality staff to convey that more goes on behind the scenes than you can often see. Having photographed many individuals who have opened up about their own experiences of ill mental health I decided that it was time the tide was turned and personally invested in making sure that a clear message was set – “It’s Ok to not be OK”. At the end of the day we are still made of the same biological processes and makeup that we were 36,000 years ago when life was much simpler and based heavily around “Fight or Flight” responses. A survey we completed back in May 2020 of over 1200 hospitality professionals showed us that 4 out of 5 had experienced at least 1 instance of ill mental health during their career.
Fast forward a year on to May 2020 and The Project has reached over 6000 people within hospitality including as far as Tokyo, Australia, South Africa, and Canada and continues to grow on a daily basis. We raise money through donations from both individuals and businesses across the trade as well sales through branded merchandise fit for day-to-day use within the busy hospitality environment.
This money is then used to fund mental health training including Mental Health First Aid and Mental Health Awareness Training as well as management training such as effective communication and active listening, so that we can up skill Managers who may have been promoted without first gaining these necessary skills.
We’ve recently launched a recipe book called “Recipes for Mental Health” to further the exposure of our message and provide inspiration to those who are looking to enter, or are currently in, the kitchen environment.
The book has a whole host of contributors who have all donated recipes to for the cause including James Golding, Jean Delport, Adam Simmonds, Adam Handling, Alice Bowyer and Ryan Blackburn to name a few. The money raised from sales of this book further aid the project in continuing it’s work of de-stigmatising mental health within hospitality and paying for mental health training so that others can be more effective managers or can aid both themselves and those who may be struggling with their own mental health.
We have launched both and e-book version for £10 and a paperback version for £26.50 which are available from the Burnt Chef Project website. In addition we have a range of merchandise including t-shirts, PPE Masks, Water Bottles, Hoodies and Aprons available with profits going towards our objectives: www.theburntchefproject.com/shop.