Award-winning spoken word artist, Joe Bellman, delivered a timely and moving message at The Burnt Chef Project’s recent Gala Dinner – something which resonates with those in the hospitality sector at Christmas more than ever.

As the nation enjoys its Christmas festivities, the hospitality industry is in the midst of its busiest time of year. Added to an already busy period of time in the calendar Christmas comes with additional challenges this year especially when coupled with continued and evolving pressures on operators, business owners and suppliers. The need for supportive structures is more prevalent than ever.

Recognising the impact on those working in the sector, The Burnt Chef Project commissioned Joe Bellman to write and deliver a touching performance which moved guests at ‘Out of the Shadows’, The Burnt Chef Project’s inaugural Gala Dinner. Addressing nearly 200 guests, Bellman explained how he started writing poetry to ‘make sense of the confusion’ after losing his mother back in 2019.

Delving into the lived experience of those within The Burnt Chef Project’s community, Bellman examines all levels of the hospitality industry shedding light on the increasingly outdated stereotypes of hospitality workplaces. Through spoken work Bellman explores the workplace as a ‘battleground of depression’ where the ‘toughness of man is tested’. Aptly labelled ‘hospitality soldiers’, Bellman highlights how the pressures of hospitality can weigh down those who work within the industry.

Recognising the impact the high-pressured environment can have on hospitality workers, The Burnt Chef Project has launched a series of training programmes and resources to support the mental health and psychological wellbeing of those working in the hospitality industry. Burning the stigma surrounding mental health, the not-for-profit organisation continues to raise awareness and educate businesses on how to implement cultural changes within psychologically safe environments putting teams and individuals’ wellbeing first whilst adding to a business's bottom line.

Bellman’s piece describes a ‘burnt out identity lost under pots and pans filled with failed visions and overwhelming anxiety because dreams escape in hospitality’ but goes on to say that the industry is at an exciting turning point where we hear more frequently the stories of positive promotion, strong workplace cultures and a key focus on mental health.

“Joe Bellman has cemented himself as a true poetic talent and upon meeting Joe earlier this year, we felt such a connection to him and his storytelling ability, it was a natural fit for us to work together to develop this piece.

We want to highlight the difficulties the industry has and still faces but also the cultural shifts we’re seeing as leaders are investing in time, energy and funds into employee wellbeing, understanding the positive impacts on retention, performance and ultimately the sustainability of this amazing industry.

We look forward to seeing Joe perform this epic piece across a number of hospitality events throughout 2023 as we continue to burn the stigma of mental health within our great industry".
Kris Hall, Founder, The Burnt Chef Project

Bellman asked guests to think ‘can we be the game changers and pioneers of hospitality?’. He called for ‘a healthy workspace for all to start thriving’. By continuing the conversation, raising awareness, and contributing to causes such as The Burnt Chef Project, we can move towards a world where a healthier lifestyle is possible for all of those working in hospitality. Bellman said:

"The Burnt Chef Project challenges the stigma around mental health. Seeing what Kris and The Burnt Chef Project team do is inspiring and it was a no-brainer to work with such visionaries to break the barriers in hospitality."

Finishing his inspirational performance Bellman concludes ‘mental health matters and you’re all listening. Forget what you think you know about hospitality because things are changing and it’s time for us to see’.

To watch the full video of Joe Bellman’s spoken word, click here:

Striving to create safe environments where leaders, teams and individuals are supported, The Burnt Chef Project offers a 24/7, free and confidential support service for individuals in the profession all year round. Simply text BURNTCHEF to 85258 head to or search for @theburntchefproject on social media for lots of free resources and tools to support you, your colleagues and your friends with your mental health.