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Book review: The Burnt Chef Project: Recipes for Mental Health

09 July 2020 by

With anxiety likely to be rife in the industry as the fate of many businesses teeter on a knife edge, the work of the Burnt Chef Project is more important than ever. The social enterprise was founded by Kris Hall last year with the aim of eradicating mental health stigma within hospitality, starting off with a black-and-white photography series of chefs, aimed to illustrate how there may be more going on behind the facade.

The most recent initiative introduced to help fund the organisation's training, support and awareness projects is its book, Recipes for Mental Health. Hall challenged himself to complete the book in 80 hours representing, he says, the average working week for chefs. It features 29 chefs, all of whom have donated a recipe along with an explanation of why they have chosen it and their thoughts on mental health in the industry.

Hall explains: "They all believe it's time to stand up to the stigma of mental health and take an active step in improving the trade for you, for me, and for future generations of budding young chefs who want to join this truly amazing creative industry."

Featured chefs include Adam Handling from the Frog, who shares John Dory with whey, caviar and broccoli; National Chef of the Year 2019 Kuba Winkowski, with Gołąbki sauerkraut roll with wood pigeon ragù; and Restaurant Interlude's Jean Delport with a marinated scallop, green almonds, buttermilk and stinging nettle dish.

The recipes are presented in alphabetical order by each chef's forename, so readers will find frozen yogurt rubbing shoulders with Goosnargh chicken, but this book is one to thumb through and enjoy as a whole, rather than to land on one particular type of dish. Along with stunning photography of the dishes, the recipes are punctuated by the portraits with which Hall began the project.

Meanwhile, comments from the chefs leave the reader with no doubt as to the value of this book. As Stoke Park's Chris Wheeler says: "I think that now, and in the future, with everything that is happening, it is a really important thing to get everyone on board with."

The Burnt Chef Project: Recipes for Mental Health (www.theburntchefproject.com, e-book £10, paperback £26.50)

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Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

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