Food for Thought: How to Open Our Ears, Hearts & Minds

Aug 1
hurrying waiter

By: Nicole Palmer, Digital Marketing 

Restaurant people know why each of us belongs in the industry. This creative community often attracts an outgoing and quirky personality type, yet anyone who has worked in restaurants knows it can be one of the most psychologically challenging careers. The strive to maintain perfect service (with a smile!) in a fast-paced, demanding, and competitive atmosphere can translate to  a lot of pressure on  staff and management. 

Chefs and cooks pour their hearts into dishes; bartenders put on a performance every night; servers juggle tasks while trying to maintain a positive attitude; and managers push to keep the whole family in rhythm until the doors are locked. High pressure and stressful environments can contribute to the waning of mental health of even your most skilled staff members. 

Recent headlines about suicide committed by members of the service industry have encouraged more conversation on how restaurateurs, managers, and team members can help one another better manage the stress of our profession. 

A step in the right direction begins with open discussions that will help break the stigma that mental health is something to be ashamed of, or ignored. When staff feel they have a supportive team around them - and leaders take their needs seriously – they are more likely to perform better and enjoy their jobs. 

A healthy mind leads to a healthy body, and a culture of wellness and support leads to a well-run business. In an industry filled with passionate problem-solvers, it is possible to create a supportive structure where staff feel they can be successful and do the job they love.  

Below are some excellent resources that could be of value to you and your staff, created by restaurant folks who have experience with these issues. Many on this list were originally posted by Culinary Agents on one of their blog posts. 

Big Table: Community around food, care through community
Big Table exists to see the lives of those working in the restaurant and hospitality industry transformed by building community around shared meals and caring for those who are in crisis, transition, or falling through the cracks. This community and care are open to all in the industry without condition.

Chefs with Issues: Where restaurant workers discuss mental health concerns
Chefs with Issues is an online forum started by food and mental health writer, Kat Kinsman, dedicated to destigmatizing mental illness in the culinary industry and helping those affected by it get the help they otherwise can't (or won't).

CORE: Children of Restaurant Employees
CORE supports children of food and beverage service workers by helping them to navigate life-altering circumstances and hardships (e.g., family death, injury, medical diagnoses, loss of home, etc.). CORE is the nationally recognized community of support for all food and beverage service families in need by ensuring they feel cared for and valued.

Emulsified Family
Emulsified Family is a blog and support group for chef wives and significant others. It provides an open space for those connected to the culinary industry to discuss how to combine restaurant and family life each day.

NEWH: The Hospitality Industry Network
NEWH is the networking resource for the hospitality industry, providing scholarships, education, leadership development, recognition of excellence, and business development opportunities. NEWH provides meetings, educational programs, seminars and career opportunities for its members.

Restaurant Recovery: Helping our industry to heal
Restaurant Recovery helps restaurant workers find and pay for drug and alcohol treatment, and help loved ones get the assistance they need. They create support networks for restaurant workers who are struggling with addiction, seeking sobriety, or are in recovery, and advocate for change in the restaurant industry through increased awareness of its unique culture.

USBG National Charity Foundation
The USBG National Charity Foundation is committed to advancing the lifelong stability and wellbeing of service industry professionals through education and charitable activities. They continue to work towards their mission through three programmatic pillars: Social Responsibility (Health & Wellness: physical, financial, and mental), Community Service, and Philanthropy. Also, you do not have to be a United States Bartender's Guild member to qualify for their grant programs.

WCR: Women Chefs & Restaurateurs
WCR is an active resource for women seeking to advance culinary education and gain recognition in various areas of the food and beverage industry. Through invaluable experiences and opportunities, WCR helps leverage the voice of talented women, helping to elevate their position while building a strong connection of industry peers.

If you know of any more great national or Texas-based resources, send them our way and we will add to this list. You can reach our team at

Take care of each other.


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