Chefs' Hands Project raises over £6,000 for mental health campaign Pilot Light

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 27th November 2018

Food photographer Joakim Blockstrom exhibited Chefs’ Hands earlier this month to fund raise for the Pilot Light campaign - he has so far raised over £6,000.

The auction took place at Carousel Next Door in London’s Marylebone and Joakim auctioned off his photographs of the hands of chefs including Pierre Koffman, Phil Howard, Ollie Dabbous and Ravinder Bhogal.  

ANDREW CLARKE
Andrew Clarke

The project is described by Joakim as a 'series of photographs in which I take a close look at the hands of chefs, and shine a light on how real, beautiful, scarred, vulnerable and strong they are'.

He said: "Each image will hopefully reveal a part of their personality, and engage visually in the conversation around the strain on mental health in the restaurant world.”  

The Chefs' Hands project began when Joakim and his girlfriend were sat in Adam Simmonds’ Test Kitchen and she commented on his hands.

He explained: "One thing I remember is that she held his hands up and said 'if these hands could speak the stories they would tell'. So, we decided that it was a great idea for a project about chefs’ struggles.  

"I’ve been working in kitchens just to help out for many years and it really resonated with me, this whole idea. It's not necessarily a glamorous lifestyle, it is a hard environment and people put down their lives to do this. It all came together in a really organic way."

All of the images featured in the exhibition are unique and evoke interest for many different reasons, and inevitably people will have their favourites but understandably, Andrew Clarke, founder of Pilot Light, was a popular choice out of the 50 images.

Alongside the images chefs were invited to share stories of their own situations which have had an effect in one way or another on their mental health.

Joakim said: "Some people came up with incredible quotes. For instance, one quote was 'when my daughter was born, there were so many times where I wish I did not have my own restaurant so I can bow out of the world of work and take maternity leave'. A lot of people feel that if you talk about mental health, you have to talk about depression, but it is also about giving up things."  

Joakim is selling prints from the exhibition through www.chefshandsproject.com, and he hopes in the future to create a cookbook, all to continue to raise money for Pilot Light. He has learned a lot from this project and said: "If you just put yourself out there and if you are prepared to take a chance on something, then you can achieve a lot."

By Nada Olson

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 27th November 2018

Chefs' Hands Project raises over £6,000 for mental health campaign Pilot Light