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205: On the Dock with Kris Hall of The Burnt Chef Project
Episode 5Bonus Episode25th July 2022 • Chef Life Radio • Realignment Media
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Another Bonus Episode of Chef Life Radio's ongoing series, "On the Dock," with the founder of The Burnt Chef Project, Kris Hall.

It's time to get raw and vulnerable with Kriss Hall.

"Understand that if something doesn't sit right with you, that's okay, and no one else can tell you otherwise. You've got to live with yourself. It's okay not to be okay."

Kris Hall is the founder of the Burnt Chef Project, a nonprofit social enterprise working to make the hospitality industry safer and more sustainable for everyone. Kriss has worked in hospitality for over ten years and has seen firsthand the challenges hospitality professionals face. 

The Burnt Chef Project offers free online training, support services, and independent business reviews to help hospitality professionals thrive.

Copyright 2022 Realignment Media

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The Reluctant Book Marketer Podcast

Jody J. Sperling writes fiction. He's spent twenty years dreaming of the phone call from FSG, accepting his novel for publication, but after landing a literary agent in 2019 and failing to woo publishers, Jody's dream wilted. While he never quit writing and reading, by the end of 2021, he'd so completely lost track of his purpose that he'd amassed a portfolio of rental houses and was toying with starting a short-term rental business. Then he had a vision of all the people who, like him, had pursued their dream of publishing only to find themselves disillusioned and defeated. That's the day he decided to found THE RELUCTANT BOOK MARKETER, a podcast to help writers with their marketing mindset.

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Transcripts

Cody Maxwell:

Well, cheers to another one

Adam:

knives down aprons off the last table served.

Adam:

The station's broken down.

Adam:

Everything's even put away your inventory is complete.

Adam:

And now it's time to meet me on the back dock.

Adam:

We're all the most important meetings are held.

Adam:

Take a deep breath and enjoy a job well done.

Adam:

We shall at ease.

Adam:

Kick off your clogs smoke.

Adam:

'em if you got 'em in this episode, the burnt chef project, founder, Chris.

Adam:

Meet us on the back dock to dish about how hard it was watching his chef

Adam:

friends, earn out, leave the industry or worse, tap out because they didn't

Adam:

have access to resources or thought their voices didn't matter, or that

Adam:

no one cared enough to get past their armor and ask the deeper question.

Adam:

When was the last time you thought about suicide?

Adam:

My name is Adam Lamb and I've been a chef for over 30 years.

Adam:

And on this show, we're about facilitating change in our

Adam:

current culinary career culture.

Adam:

The work can be hard doesn't necessarily mean it should be harsh.

Adam:

The work can be demanding.

Adam:

Doesn't have to be demeaning, more belonging, less belittling,

Adam:

more family, and less.

Adam:

Fuck you.

Adam:

How about a nice cold beverage?

Adam:

Maybe one of these, uh, one of us will have to bury the other aged Mexican

Adam:

style lager from north Carolina's.

Adam:

Burial brewing company, you know, something to strengthen our resolve, get

Adam:

us moving if not in the right direction, then at least with the right motivation.

Adam:

Oui?

Sara Barnhill:

Oh yes.

Sara Barnhill:

Chef

Adam:

Pull up a crate, get comfortable.

Adam:

And let's dive deep with Kriss hall.

Kris:

I suppose.

Kris:

Really the whole reason why I started the burnt chef project was just.

Kris:

I was having these conversations on a regular basis with you're walking

Kris:

with a truffle, you're walking with, you know, your, your finest gold

Kris:

leaf and your chef, chef friend, client, you know, whoever it might be.

Kris:

It just looks like they've been dragged through a Bush backwards and you send

Kris:

like, you know, what's the problem.

Kris:

Ah, it's, you know, 80 hour weeks this week someone's let me down.

Kris:

You know, I've got stuff going on at home, you know, the, this is going on at work.

Kris:

It's just, it's constantly piling up on me and it was just

Kris:

something wasn't quite right.

Kris:

You know, comparing it to my other backgrounds where perhaps

Kris:

you'd work nine hours a day.

Kris:

You know, you, you might get a good half an hour, 45 minutes for lunch.

Kris:

You know, you knew when your breaks were.

Kris:

And I was just looking at this industry going, there's something fundamentally

Kris:

wrong here, and it's not sustainable.

Kris:

And I saw even two years ago that just this model.

Kris:

It's not sustainable and, you know, thank God I did.

Kris:

And thank God.

Kris:

I started to come up with some solutions for this and some guidance because if I

Kris:

hadn't done it, COVID definitely, would've definitely would've, uh, you know,

Kris:

put this, put these worlds in motion.

Adam:

So you actually started the project because you felt called by

Adam:

the, the relationships that you were having and just, they were reflecting

Adam:

back just what a tough time they were.

Adam:

Having and so you just took it upon yourself to do it

Kris:

partly.

Kris:

Yeah.

Kris:

The, the other reason why I started it was because I'm 34 now.

Kris:

And when I was 29, I was having a real, real hard time with my mental health.

Kris:

I didn't know it.

Kris:

I just thought it was everyone else's problem.

Kris:

And not mine as we often tend to then.

Kris:

I, it culminated in me going home out of the blue one day.

Kris:

You know, I was a captain of the local rugby club.

Kris:

I'm a married, married man with two children and I went home.

Kris:

Thank you.

Kris:

Although sometimes, you know, it's, it's a tough gig, please

Kris:

don't let my wife hear this.

Kris:

But, uh, I, I went home out the blue and just asked my

Kris:

wife for a divorce, completely completely side sides, swiped her.

Kris:

And she sort of couldn't understand where it was coming from.

Kris:

In my head for years, I'd just been building up that I wasn't good enough.

Kris:

I wasn't good enough to be part of a, you know, rugby club.

Kris:

I wasn't good enough to be accepted by my friends or my workplace.

Kris:

I wasn't, you know, I wasn't fitting within my marriage and

Kris:

call it personality, crisis, call it some degree of depression, but

Kris:

ultimately it, I I'd hit rock bottom.

Kris:

And I was at complete odds, you know, to the point where I was actually

Kris:

believing that when I walked around and looked at people, walking through the.

Kris:

But they didn't have anything going on in their head.

Kris:

And I was envious of other people that they had this big

Kris:

black space in their head.

Kris:

And here I was worrying about every last thing in my life on a daily

Kris:

basis and not losing sleep over it.

Kris:

So I went to go get some cognitive behavioral therapy, um, which

Kris:

lasted for a couple of months.

Kris:

And it gave me this perception on life.

Kris:

And I realized that I didn't have any core values.

Kris:

And so that put me on a bit of a, you know, a two year long.

Kris:

Life journey to try and establish who I was, but also what I

Kris:

wanted to do within life.

Kris:

And, you know, talking about my experiences with some of the people

Kris:

that I was working with, uh, just led me to the recognizing that I wasn't

Kris:

alone in this and that there were other people out there that could benefit from

Kris:

having this conversation, but perhaps.

Kris:

Certainly within a hospitality environment.

Kris:

It wasn't the done thing to do.

Kris:

So because you know, it's a badge of honor.

Kris:

You gotta be tough.

Kris:

You can't let the team down and any kind of weakness and that's it.

Kris:

You, you know, you're thrown to the wolves.

Kris:

And for me, I was like, I don't want anyone else to, to, to experience.

Kris:

And I used the word experience rather than suffer experience what I went

Kris:

through, because it's not great.

Kris:

There is, there is light at the end of the tunnel, but

Kris:

yeah, it so much of that could.

Kris:

Helped through open conversation and dialogue.

Kris:

So yes, I, I, I took it upon myself, not knowing what I was doing, just

Kris:

that I wanted to raise some awareness through, um, through some black

Kris:

and white photos that I was taking.

Adam:

yeah, they're brilliant, man.

Adam:

They're brilliant.

Adam:

Yeah.

Adam:

You see a lot of 'em on the website, you know, the black and white images

Adam:

of the chef's faces really uptight and close, and most of them are.

Adam:

Most of them are not smiling.

Adam:

no to bad.

Adam:

You caught it.

Adam:

You caught 'em in good moments.

Adam:

So as you established these core values and really started to

Adam:

embody them, how did that change your relationship with your wife?

Kris:

that's a good question.

Kris:

That's a good question.

Kris:

Um, sorry buddy.

Kris:

No, no, that's fine.

Kris:

My wife is a.

Kris:

Very strong character.

Kris:

She comes from a family of farmers, uh, in the west country

Kris:

of Somerset who are very stoic.

Kris:

And that was one reason why I always second guess myself.

Kris:

Cause I was looking at my father-in-law and my brother-in-law and going Christ.

Kris:

These are, these are men, you know?

Kris:

Yeah.

Kris:

My father-in-law climbs trees and cuts them down for a living,

Kris:

you know, get raises Aberdeen, Angus calves, never complains.

Kris:

He could cut his own arm off for the chainsaw, turn a K it up and still

Kris:

climb up for tree and finish this job, you know, and you're right.

Kris:

Am I get stung by a wasp over here or a yellow jacket?

Kris:

And that's it.

Kris:

I'm screaming and running down the hill.

Kris:

So.

Kris:

Yeah, it it's, it's taken a few years to, to rectify and rebuild bridges

Kris:

and to also to get some degree of equilibrium back, because what I was

Kris:

finding is that every single time my wife was asking me to do something,

Kris:

you know, do you mind doing the dishes?

Kris:

Do you mind taking the kids to school?

Kris:

Whatever it might be.

Kris:

I felt that it was a personal attack on me and it, it just, it,

Kris:

it just rocked me every single time.

Kris:

It put me off kilter and it wasn't until I realized that I couldn't actually.

Kris:

I could say no.

Kris:

I mean, in the most cases you wanna say yes to your wife and

Kris:

make, you know, make a happy case when it comes down to your kids.

Kris:

But it was because I felt that I couldn't say no.

Kris:

And I felt like I didn't have a decision in it.

Kris:

So over a few years, we've managed to get that sort of equilibrium where

Kris:

I'm actually be like, I can't do that.

Kris:

Yeah.

Kris:

I'm not, I'm not able to do that at this moment in time and I'm not, and

Kris:

we've, we've ended up coming to this.

Kris:

Uh, yeah, I would say this, as I say an equilibrium now it's.

Kris:

Uh, an understanding and our relationship now sort of seven years on our

Kris:

anniversary was two days ago, seven years on our wedding anniversary.

Kris:

We're um, yeah, we're, we're in a much better place than we ever have been.

Adam:

That's awesome.

Adam:

You know, when I decided to reboot this, uh, podcast, I committed to,

Adam:

you know, not only talking to chefs in the industry, but also talking to.

Adam:

Experts in other fields.

Adam:

So, you know, in a couple weeks we're gonna be talking to this relationship

Adam:

coach that my wife and I used a year ago, because we got so much out of it.

Adam:

And I recognize that one of the biggest lies we tell ourselves, or at least

Adam:

I'll own it and say, You know, I share that core value of transparency and, and

Adam:

vulnerability with you because there's no way that I can ask anybody else to

Adam:

do that if I'm not gonna be there first.

Adam:

But I recognize that one of the biggest lies I ever told myself is, you

Adam:

know, I leave it at the door, right?

Adam:

Come in the kitchen.

Adam:

And now you're gonna Dawn your apron, like a, like a piece of armor and,

Adam:

uh, buckle down and granted sometimes kind of the rote rhythmic mechanical.

Adam:

Things that you do to go through your day kind of allows allowed me my, my

Adam:

mind to kind of disengage and only be focused on what was in front of me,

Adam:

which is a great distraction, but it never really helped me sort anything

Adam:

else out that problem was always waiting.

Adam:

And I always felt the stress of that, whether I would

Adam:

admit it to anybody or not.

Adam:

So, so for me, it's like, I want to be able to assist in any way that.

Adam:

And this conversation about mental health is also so intrinsically wound with

Adam:

physical health and relational health.

Adam:

And, you know, it's all part of the same thing.

Adam:

So I don't want anybody telling themselves the same lie that, you know, they can

Adam:

go to work and just, and, and it be okay, at least for a while I read a post

Adam:

yesterday where this, this young woman decided to leave her current employer.

Adam:

Even though she felt guilty about it because of everything she's

Adam:

read about, you know, that the industry's on its backside and

Adam:

nobody's coming in through the door.

Adam:

And she understood that because she was dealing with those kinds of stresses,

Adam:

but she was asking the group like, oh, so how should I feel about this?

Adam:

And what would your response Chris be?

Adam:

I mean, to me it seems pretty simple, but

Kris:

go ahead.

Kris:

I don't know.

Kris:

Again.

Kris:

I think for me, like she feels the way she feels and no one

Kris:

can tell her any differently.

Kris:

Like no one can tell her that's correct.

Kris:

No one can tell her that's wrong.

Kris:

Everyone's gonna feel differently about it.

Kris:

You know, you're gonna have people out there who say, ah, fuck it.

Kris:

You know, you, you're better than that.

Kris:

And you're gonna have other people saying, oh, actually, you know, you

Kris:

should, you should stick with it.

Kris:

Everyone's entitled to their own opinion.

Kris:

But I think ultimately what you've got to trust.

Kris:

Is that little thing called gut instinct, which over the years, we've, we've

Kris:

taught ourselves to ignore, but actually over the, over the years of evolution

Kris:

and how we've changed as human beings.

Kris:

And we think that our brains become smarter and more able

Kris:

to cope with everything.

Kris:

Our gut stayed exactly the same.

Kris:

And our gut's been with us in the same format for thousands more

Kris:

years than our brain has done.

Kris:

it's full of much, much more nerve endings.

Kris:

And I think the point I'm trying to make is that we need to start spending

Kris:

more time listening to our gut instinct.

Kris:

So if your gut tells you that you feel guilty, then you need to perhaps

Kris:

lean into that and find out exactly why is it that you feel guilty?

Kris:

Is it because you feel like you owe this employee something, in which case,

Kris:

you know, what is it that you owe the employer and what do you owe yourself?

Kris:

You know, what is it that.

Kris:

That you need in life to, to be fulfilled and to be enrich.

Kris:

Yes.

Kris:

You need to pay, pay the bills.

Kris:

Yes.

Kris:

You need to, you know, have purpose, but at the same time, do you need

Kris:

to have those things that sacrifice of your own wellbeing, your own

Kris:

physical, mental health, and also, you know, the relationships around you.

Kris:

You can have.

Kris:

And I think, again, we, in this industry, we've perhaps become a

Kris:

little bit blinkered and we believe that we have to stay where we are,

Kris:

because we're not gonna get it as good as we've got in the current place.

Kris:

But the industry is the third largest sector in the entire world.

Kris:

You know, this is a profession that employs 17, 2 million people worldwide.

Kris:

The chances are there's gonna be another place out.

Kris:

That may completely blow your mind way open and offer you opportunities

Kris:

and balances that you have never, never even conceived before.

Adam:

I think that's, uh, I think that's great advice.

Adam:

Um, you know, I, I'm a big fan of self nurture only because for

Adam:

most of my career, I didn't even know what the hell that was.

Adam:

I thought self nurture was.

Adam:

Hanging out with the boys and girls after working, you know,

Adam:

having a couple pops or whatever else was going on in the bathroom.

Adam:

But as I've gotten a little bit long in the tooth, I recognize that

Adam:

that could be just about anything, whether that's exercise or a hot

Adam:

bath or a massage or whatever.

Adam:

But I recognize that the people that are drawn to this industry are, are

Adam:

drawn to it because they, they feel something inside that they want to give.

Adam:

They want to nurture others.

Adam:

So very often we're putting ourselves way at the end of the queue, as far

Adam:

as, as far as folks to take care of.

Adam:

And, um, again, through my own experience, I would say that it's

Adam:

really hard to give from an empty cup.

Kris:

Yeah.

Kris:

And, and I think we take the whole service industry as almost a step too far.

Kris:

Like let's not, let's not beat around the Bush here.

Kris:

If you're a chef.

Kris:

, if you're a chef, your job is to put someone's dinner onto a plate.

Kris:

You can dress it up in as many different ways as you want.

Kris:

You can make as brilliant Bush mails, or you can do whatever you need to and

Kris:

serve it up in as many different ways.

Kris:

But ultimately.

Kris:

We're serving people food.

Kris:

And I think that we need to just take a step back and understand that yes,

Kris:

our jobs are in the service industry, but we also need to be responsible

Kris:

for servicing ourself and servicing, you know, those around us as well.

Kris:

And I think that's, that's one thing that, you know, COVID has really done very well.

Kris:

Is this given that.

Kris:

Spotlight effect to the fact that actually we haven't really

Kris:

been looking after ourselves.

Kris:

So well, we spent so much time looking after other people that

Kris:

we're now in some pretty dark states when it comes to ourselves.

Kris:

So we just, you know, this is a lesson, a huge once in a lifetime, once in a

Kris:

generation time lesson that we are, that we're, we're currently learning

Kris:

and we're trying to find our way out of

Adam:

couldn't agree.

Adam:

More.

Adam:

Couldn't agree.

Adam:

More.

Adam:

Chris, do you have any final thoughts?

Kris:

I,

Adam:

no, I mean, you, I you've obviously had so many going in your head right now.

Kris:

Uh, mate, honestly, if I could, if I could, even if I could even

Kris:

begin to try and articulate the root, I mean, Again, every everything that

Kris:

that Behe project has been built on is people telling me that I can't

Kris:

do things it's never gonna change.

Kris:

And that, you know, this is a problem that's here to stay.

Kris:

And so absolutely everything.

Kris:

The thing that really gets me, and again, this is about mentality.

Kris:

So the thing that really hurts me is I'm still too close to

Kris:

this at this moment in time.

Kris:

So when you get a message come through from someone.

Kris:

You failed because they haven't been able to use the service, perhaps your

Kris:

instructions weren't clear enough, or they weren't able to use it in the right way.

Kris:

And they tell you that you're no good.

Kris:

You should shut down that you're not doing any good for the industry.

Kris:

That for me, is it hurts.

Kris:

But rather than look at that as a personal attack, which, you know, has taken

Kris:

me a little bit of time to get over.

Kris:

I start looking at it as the.

Kris:

Why is that the case?

Kris:

You know, what have we not done?

Kris:

Right.

Kris:

What can we do better in order to make our thing?

Kris:

Right.

Kris:

And I just think that for anyone that's listen out there and thinks, you know

Kris:

what, Chris, you've got this completely wrong, or you've not managed to do this.

Kris:

Then please come explain, talk to me.

Kris:

Chances are that if I'm wrong, I'll put my hands up.

Kris:

I'll say, okay, I didn't see it like that before.

Kris:

Great suggestion.

Kris:

You know, I had a, I had, um, a lady.

Kris:

A lovely black lady.

Kris:

She came to me recently and said, why haven't you got any training

Kris:

on slavery and modern day slavery?

Kris:

And I was like, well, why?

Kris:

And she was like, well, this is the reason why.

Kris:

And it happened to my dad and he worked in hospitality and

Kris:

I was like, bloody great idea.

Kris:

Awesome idea.

Kris:

Like, I can't believe I missed it.

Kris:

I'm so sorry that you know that I didn't have this answer.

Kris:

Right.

Kris:

So I think.

Kris:

I'm human.

Kris:

I make mistakes.

Kris:

I'm not gonna be able to solve every single problem at time.

Kris:

But in time we will do, if we start working more together as an industry,

Kris:

this is the great thing about hospitality.

Kris:

We are a giant bloody team and we stop eating at each other and start working

Kris:

out how we can work together to fix this.

Kris:

And it might just be a small thing, like asking your KP, where he went to

Kris:

eat with his, his family last night or her family last night and watch what he

Kris:

liked about that meal and what influences he would like to see on the menu.

Kris:

What flavors it involved, it might be starting with something small like

Kris:

that, that, that valuing a member of your team, or it could be saying to

Kris:

me, Chris, actually, do you know what?

Kris:

This is a big problem within the industry.

Kris:

And I'd like to know either a, how you are, how you're looking to address it,

Kris:

or B what can we do to get it fixed?

Kris:

So it's not really a final point.

Kris:

I think it was more of a soliloquy, but ultimately I'm here to help.

Kris:

Help me to help you.

Kris:

And let's all work.

Kris:

Get this together.

Kris:

You know, I don't want, I don't want a massive gold star

Kris:

above my head for any of this.

Kris:

I just wanna make sure that somewhere, someone somewhere knows

Kris:

that they're not alone and that

Adam:

well that's, that's why it's so interesting because you know,

Adam:

I had to search for you, right.

Adam:

Because it's not necessarily apparent on the website.

Adam:

Right.

Adam:

So you can go all through it.

Adam:

And it's almost like the work is, is more important than.

Adam:

Who you are as an individual or, or the individuals coming

Adam:

together to produce this.

Adam:

And I, I appreciate that because what it says to me is there's very

Adam:

little ego that's involved, right?

Adam:

It's all coming from a very sincere place.

Adam:

And if I knew of another website or, and, and I mean the website only as the front

Adam:

facing portion of this, but I recognize all the work that went into that.

Adam:

And I just want to say for every other culinary out there in the world, Listening

Adam:

to this or interacting with that website.

Adam:

I really thank you, man, because it is, um, as I said earlier, it's an amazing

Adam:

resource, but the resource doesn't mean shit if you're not gonna use it.

Adam:

So I encourage everybody to get in there, dig in, find stuff that you

Adam:

like, find stuff that you, you know, don't like, you want argue about it.

Adam:

You want to have a conversation.

Adam:

That's fantastic because the reality is we are all in this together.

Adam:

We either rise together or we fall.

Adam:

Solely alone.

Adam:

And I wanna leave this industry better than when I found it.

Adam:

This has been a special crew member, only episode of on the dock.

Adam:

Can't tell you how much it means to me that you are part of the crew stepping

Adam:

in and raising your voice to be counted.

Adam:

There's a new kitchen culture coming, and we all get to be part of it.

Adam:

It's what we always wanted to begin with.

Adam:

We'll be dropping new episodes soon, including.

Adam:

Line check music to break the line down to here at chef life radio.

Adam:

We believe that working in a kitchen should be demanding.

Adam:

It shouldn't have to be demeaning.

Adam:

It should be hard.

Adam:

It just doesn't have to be harsh.

Adam:

We believe that it's possible to have more solidarity and less suck it up.

Adam:

Sunshine, more compassion, less cutthroat island.

Adam:

We believe in more partner.

Adam:

And less put up or shut up more family and less.

Adam:

Fuck you.

Adam:

Needless to say, we believe in, you finally consider for a second for

Adam:

all the blood, sweat, and tears.

Adam:

We put into what we do that really at the end of the day,

Adam:

it's just some stuff on a plate.

Adam:

None of it really matters.

Adam:

It doesn't define you as a person or make you any more

Adam:

special or less than anyone else.

Adam:

It's just the dance that we're engaged in.

Adam:

So we might as well laugh and enjoy every bit of it or didn't,

Adam:

you know, that the purpose of your life should be to enjoy it.

Adam:

Check us out at facebook.com/chef life, radio Twitter at chef life, radio

Adam:

Instagram at chef life radio stand tall and frosty brothers and sisters

Adam:

until next time be well and do good.

Adam:

This show was written.

Adam:

Produced and recorded by me, Adam Lamb at the dish pit, em Bardo, North Carolina

Adam:

it's co-produced by Thomas Stinson.

Adam:

Chef life radio is a product of food works media.