Who We Are
In The Weeds is a group of passionate hospitality industry professionals and supporters who have experienced the everyday challenges of working in a high stress, high stakes environment. They have dealt with the impact of personal struggles, and have felt the helplessness of watching friends and colleagues struggle. They have come together knowing there is strength in numbers, and that if others know they have support and are not alone, it will be a good step. In The Weeds is the start of a conversation, the desire to provide support, and a commitment to really be there for one another.
To help create a healthy and safe working environment for all members of the Edmonton food and beverage community, providing the tools to support and educate those at the helm, while also connecting with those in need within the broader hospitality community, offering resources and assistance to seek the help they may need.
We strive to educate and empower from the top down. Leaders and owners in our industry recognize a need for change and the benefits that go along with creating a positive and safe work culture. By being accountable, we will affect the most change in the shortest amount of time.
We will find the best ways to provide information, resources and tools to empower all hospitality workers who need help.
Our goal is to raising funds so we are able to provide funding for those in our industry in need of professional mental health or addiction services.
In 2016, Sylvia and her husband Darren opened a French-Canadian restaurant called Chartier in their hometown of Beaumont, Alberta. It was named “Best New Restaurant” in Avenue Edmonton, “Top 10 Best New Restaurants” in 2017 by the Globe and Mail, and made the long list for Air Canada’s Best New Restaurants in Canada. Sylvia as been working in restaurants since she was 16 and has experienced firsthand the physical and mental toll that this wonderful industry can have on its core people. She is excited to help create a support network within the hospitality community that focuses on positive mental health in order to keep good people in good restaurants.
After being in hospitality for 20 years and working every day in a restaurant, he has seen a lot change in the world around our industry and we have fallen behind. Darren is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict who functioned at the highest levels in our industry. He says he was grandfathered into the old way of doing things. The “suck it up” mentality and substance abuse as a stress relief ran its toll on him. He wants to change our industry for the better so others don’t follow the same easily walked pathed. He wants to help create a culture shift within our industry that takes care of those who care for others every day, and hopefully be able to create lasting change.
Paul is the owner of The Workshop Eatery and has worked in the hospitality industry for ? years. Like many in our industry he was taken aback by the loss of Chef Anthony Bourdain. He couldn’t process how a person so outwardly successful would take his own life. That moment made him look around at those he works with and values as colleagues and dear friends and realize that mental health knows no limits around success, wealth or fame. This journey has opened his eyes to the reality that his approach to leadership has been part of the problem, and if he truly wants to see a change, he has to be the one to start it. Many of us face demons, some more than others, and it’s up to us as a food community to create a welcoming environment, where it’s okay to share our struggles and ask for help.
Matt is the co-owner and one of the chefs behind Northern Chicken. His previous experience was with Joey and Lux Steakhouse + bar. Diagnosed with a major depressive disorder at 14, he has spent the majority of his life involved in mental wellness, both as a patient and as an advocate. He has previously spoken as part of Bell Let’s Talk day on CTV and has worked with the support network for eight years.
After suffering from mental health issues for more than 20 years, Matt is excited to get into the trenches and give back to fellow community members the way many people have given back to him. He recognizes the necessity to change the macho culture prevalent in most kitchens and working towards helping everyone.
Peter is the co-owner of Meuwly’s, an artisan food market focusing on charcuterie. After nearly 15 years working in restaurants in Edmonton and Vancouver, he has refocused his efforts to the intersection of food, community, and education. He serves on the boards of several food-focused organizations including the Canadian Culinary Fund, Edmonton Food Council, and Canadian Chef’s Association (Culinary Federation.) Peter is honoured and excited to join In The Weeds to contribute to a long-overdue shift in the way we think, talk, and act about mental health & wellness in the food industry. Peter has experienced the many challenges that can be part of the job, having witnessed many friends and colleagues struggle with addiction, stress, and mental health issues. However, Peter is optimistic. He is here because he has also felt the incredible sense of support and community that can be achieved when we decide to work together and build a bigger table.
Les is entrepreneur who currently co-owns and operates various small businesses including a commercial general contracting firm, and an indoor virtual golf lounge. At an early age of 14 he started his first small business and has never looked back. He is an Architectural and Civil/Structural Designer, working in the design and engineering world for more than 15 years. Les and his wife Stacey enjoy life and all the excitement that raising 3 teenage children brings. He serves on the Board as Vice Chair and Secretary for an adult living complex in Beaumont, as well he participates on an organizing committee for the annual Beaumont Mayor’s Golf Tournament which raises funds for local non-profit organizations. His construction company has been involved in dozens of new restaurant builds and renovations since 2011, which Les really enjoys following their successes long after the construction work has concluded. His interest in being on the ITW Board stems from a keen desire to be part of a group whose focus is helping those who are struggling with their mental health, and to bring forth positive changes in the hospitality industry.
Kim Silverthorn BA, RPC, MPCC, CT is a registered Master Practitioner of Clinical Counselling (M.P.C.C.) through the Canadian Professional Counsellors Association and a Clinical Therapist (C.T.) through the Association of Counselling Therapy in Alberta. Kim is the owner/therapist of Tacit Knowledge, a counselling practice based in Beaumont. She has been a therapist for more than 30 years, and often works with clients who have specialized needs (First Responders, teaching staff, high risk offenders, Children’s Services families, etc). Kim has been writing a regular mental health article (now called “Dear Tacit”) for the past 7 years or so – this article is featured weekly in newspapers and online news sites all across Canada, and in some locations in the United States. Kim also offers a broad range of Professional Development Training opportunities (all approved for Continuing Education Credits) for businesses, groups, or agencies who want to strengthen their own skills in the mental health field, or who are interested in creating a healthier working environment within their own team.
Jay is an owner and co-founder of Edmonton’s Sea Change Brewing Co., Shiddy’s Distilling, and FlatBoy Burger. Sea Change is an award winning craft brewery and community builder since 2017. Previous to the inception of Sea Change, Jay was founder of Record Mob inc. – a diverse technology investment fund. Jay spent his formative years running kitchens, bars and restaurants around western Canada. Opening more than a dozen distinct businesses, Jay has seen failures and successes in the industry along with all the stresses and struggles that both pose. Jay is also an award winning singer-songwriter and music producer.
Jay has close family ties to addiction and mental health disorders and has worked alongside people facing these issues in both hospitality and music. With In The Weeds, he seeks to support those in the hospitality industry and find creative solutions for aid.
Caitlin Fulton is a founding partner in RGE RD and The Butchery by RGE RD. As the Director of Operations, she guides the front of house team and guest experience. RGE RD has been consistently recognized as one of the top restaurants in Edmonton by Edify Magazine, Where Magazine, CBC Radio and many other publications including achieving 4th place in Air Canada’s enRoute Magazine Best New Restaurants 2014 as well as mentions in Canada’s 100 Best. In 2020, Caitlin was recognized as one of Edmonton’s Top 40 under 40 by Edify Magazine. She was involved early on in the inception of RGE RD farm dinners and helped plant the first seeds of these long table events. The first dinner-from-scratch experience that RGE RD put on at Nature’s Green Acres was the start of an ongoing passion for connecting the dinner guest and dining experience to the stories of the farm and the source of our food. With a passion for storytelling and community engagement, Caitlin views the restaurant as another cultural gathering space where we can celebrate our sense of place.
In its best moments, a restaurant can provide a sense of belonging and purpose. Often all-consuming and always labour intensive, traditional restaurant working culture can also lead to burn out, stress and anxiety, workplace harassment, substance abuse and a myriad of other factors that contribute to the breakdown of mental wellness. The pressure to maintain a high level of public facing excellence and service needs a counterpoint–a network of support and strategies that responds to the unique challenges encountered by workers in our industry. Hospitality is defined by generosity and openness to visitors and guests, but must begin amongst teams in the restaurant kitchen. Caitlin is grateful and hopeful that In The Weeds can provide a safe space of open generosity while facilitating access to professional support when needed.
If you need help, have questions, or like the cause, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out what we are up to below.