From Kitchen to Sky: Wayne Sullivan's Leap of Faith for the Burnt Chef Project

Posted on Sep 15th 2023

In an awe-inspiring display of courage, Wayne Sullivan, an Oliver Harvey customer & someone we have worked with closely over the years, is preparing to embark on a daring skydiving adventure with a twist. With the twist being that he'll be wearing a specially made Oxford Chefs Jacket provided by us. We couldn’t be more excited to see how our chef whites fare in the world of skydiving.

But Wayne's leap from the skies isn't just about the thrill of freefalling; it's a powerful act of support for a cause that's dear to his heart—the Burnt Chef Project. As Wayne descends from high above, he carries with him the weight of an industry's unspoken struggles with mental health. The Burnt Chef Project aims to eradicate the stigma surrounding mental well-being in hospitality. In this blog,  we'll delve into the reasons behind Wayne's heartfelt support for the remarkable mission of the Burnt Chef Project.

To gain deeper insights into Wayne's motivation for taking this daring plunge, we posed a few questions.

Q1: Why did you choose to support the Burnt Chef Project through your skydiving event?

A1: Having followed The Burnt Chef Project for many years and seeing their place in the industry in highlighting mental and emotional health within it, I wanted to support their support in a way. I’ve struggled with mental health in the recent past, and many chefs are too scared to admit it almost. What TBCP are doing is their best to remove the stigma surrounding it.

Q2: Wearing a chef jacket during a skydive is quite unique. Could you explain the significance of wearing the chef’s uniform for this event and what message you hope to convey?

A2: I want to get across to other chefs that no matter what challenges work or life throw at you, you may not be strong enough to overcome it on your own and that there are more chefs than you realize in the same place as you. Talk to them, be their ear if you need to. And if you don’t feel comfortable opening up to them, then TBCP are there for you.

Q3: What do you think are the most significant challenges when it comes to addressing mental health issues in the culinary world?

A3: One word, Bravado… In the past, it was seen as a weakness in a kitchen to even feel sad or down. Whereas anger has always been prevalent. No one has ever linked that those shouty and angry chefs were probably struggling with their MH but didn’t want to admit it, and would usually drink their night away and rinse and repeat the next day, and the next, and so on… I’d like to think that kitchens aren’t like that anymore. That a chef, whether a commis or an exec can be the person to lean on in times when you’re not feeling your best.

Q4: What message or advice would you give to other chefs or hospitality professionals who may be facing mental health challenges?

A4: Like I’ve said in the previous answers, open up. You can’t deal with everything on your own. It’s a vicious circle. I’ve been there, trying to juggle home, work, new openings, staffing problems, guest issues, etc. I always made sure 101% of me was in everything I did for everyone else, but I never took time for me. I bottled it all up and began having panic attacks and anxiety. The only thing that worked for me after trying to hide it from everyone at home and work, even trying nasty medications, was opening up and talking about it.

Q5: In your opinion, how can the broader community, including both industry insiders and the public, contribute to breaking the stigma surrounding mental health in the hospitality field?

A5: They can realize it’s not the late 80’s or 90’s anymore. Bragging about 100-hour weeks, no breaks, smoking 20 a day, and downing 5 pints after work aren’t the way forward. It’s 2023, people are more open to listening to others these days without prejudice. I never wanted answers when I opened up; I didn’t want solutions, I just wanted to talk.

Show Your Support

We invite you to join us in supporting his mission to break the stigma surrounding mental health in the culinary world. Wayne's skydiving adventure is not just a leap of faith; it's a powerful statement of unity and understanding. Every contribution makes a difference, and together, we can help The Burnt Chef Project continue their invaluable work.

To be part of this inspiring cause, click the link below and make a donation: Wayne's Fundraising Page. Your support can help change lives and create a more compassionate culinary world.


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