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.
Steven is the owner of MilkCrate. He has been cooking around Canada for more than fifteen years and has worked in a variety of kitchens. He has watched the industry and society change the demands on hospitality workers and believes that more can be done on both sides of the line. Kitchen and restaurant culture is beautiful and can build bonds between people that can last a lifetime. Also, if not properly maintained, it can become hazardous. He is proud to be part of In The Weeds and hopes to create a ripple effect in restaurants across Canada.
Deb served as Executive Director of Youth Empowerment and Support Service for 18 years. Her work at YESS garnered her a number of awards including Woman of Vision, Grant MacEwan Distinguished Alumni, and Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. Currently she is the Operations Manager for a new start-up, PanTerra MTE Solutions. Deb joined In The Weeds following her son’s death by suicide. She wants to be part of the voice for mental health awareness
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 and Edmonton’s Chef’s Association. 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.
Ilan is the owner of Loud Mouth Communications, a boutique creative agency that primarily focuses on projects within the entertainment industry. There is a lot of energy, excitement and celebration in her industry. She is surrounded by passionate artists, driven business professionals and seemingly fearless fellow entrepreneurs. To the outside world, life is a carnival, but behind the curtain there is also struggle and pain. It is from a place of compassion, from years of experiencing mental illness within her own family and circle of friends, and feeling helpless, that she has joined In The Weeds. In her early years, she worked in kitchens, restaurants and behind the bar, and has a deep respect for the people in the hospitality industry who open their doors and pour their hearts into serving others. She wants to help ensure they feel the support and respect of the communities they serve.