Meet The American Team
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.
(Los Angeles, CA)
I have always been interested in food at an early age; helping taking orders at a family friend’s restaurant. I started my culinary adventure back in 1999 where I attended culinary school at the now debunked Le Cordon Bleu of Orange County and did my first internship at Disneyland.
I soon found my place at a French restaurant whose saucier taught me the basics by sight and taste. His wisdom has helped me to this day as I’m an award winning saucier; defeating two restaurants in a sauce competition as well as winning several awards at local fairs. I currently own and operate my own business.
Like a lot of fellow chefs/cooks, I have suffered with mental health issues. I’m glad I found this project as a safe haven for those who suffer as well. We all need to work together to fight this battle.
(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.
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.
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!