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Chef photo auction to fundraise for hospitality mental health campaign

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Chef photo auction to fundraise for hospitality mental health campaign

Photographs of chefs’ hands will be exhibited and auctioned off in November to fundraise for the Pilot Light campaign.

In collaboration with Pilot Light, which aims to give professional chefs an outlet to discuss stress-related issues, food photographer Joakim Blockstrom will be auctioning off his photographs of the hands of chefs including Pierre Koffman, Phil Howard, Ollie Dabbous and Ravinder Bhogal (pictured).

The event will take place at Carousel Next Door in London’s Marylebone on 12 November at 7pm.

A number of restaurants have contributed tables and experiences (including a day in the kitchen with Ollie Dabbous followed by tea for two at Hide restaurant) which will also be auctioned off.

Blockstrom said: “Most chefs go through a rocky road before achieving success. And even then, a professional kitchen is an extremely tough environment, both physically and mentally; and while famous chefs’ faces may appear on magazine covers, their hands often reveal a less glamorous story.

“I have been working on a series of photographs in which I take a close look at the hands of chefs, and shine a light on how real, beautiful, scarred, vulnerable and strong they are. Each image will hopefully reveal a part of their personality, and engage visually in the conversation around the strain on mental health in the restaurant world.”

The pictures will be accompanied by quotes from chefs, completing the sentence that sparked the initial idea for the project: “If these hands could speak, the stories they would tell…”

The Pilot Light was founded in November 2017 by chef Andrew Clarke, chef director across Brunswick House and St Leonard’s restaurants in London. The campaign is affiliated with Time to Change, a long-running campaign under mental health charity Mind that addresses the stigma around mental health.

Blockstrom added: “Some of my best friends are chefs, so we often see what happens behind the kitchen doors – and things need to change. This is such an important topic – especially as we hear more and more about depression, addictions and suicides in this industry.”

The Caterer will be running an issue dedicated to mental health in hospitality on 12 October featuring an interview with Andrew Clarke. Ahead of publication we are running a survey investigating the state of mental health in the sector. To take the survey, please click here.

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