About

A Few Words About Us

CHOW was founded by Denver pie maker, John Hinman and food writer, Alexandra Palmerton. CHOW (Culinary Hospitality Outreach and Wellness) in 2018. John was interviewed by Alexandra for an article about mental health stresses in the hospitality industry. The article received a resounding response. The article received many shared stories. As a result of this response, John saw a need to create a safe group space where people could share their stories of pain, recovery, and improved mental health.

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John Hinman and other Denver Chefs comment on mental health in hospitality.

Our Mission

CHOW’s mission is to support wellness within the hospitality industry and to improve the lives of our community through shared stories, skills, and resources.

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Taking Care Of The People Who Care For Us

Anyone who’s dined in a restaurant has experienced hospitality. From servers and bartenders to dishwashers and chefs, each person working in a restaurant gives their all to make guests feel welcome, cared for and nourished.

Our mission is to return the favor. To care for the people who take such good care of us. To provide a place for restaurant staff to feel supported, heard and appreciated. To facilitate gatherings where we can build meaningful connections with folks who “get it.” To lift each other up so we don’t lose anyone else to suicide, addiction or struggles surrounding mental health.

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The CHOW Team

We know hospitality. Get to know us a little better

John Hinman, Founder of CHOW

John Hinman

Founder

Pie changed my life. True story.

That might sound like a bit much, but these pies, like my life, are anything but ordinary. The truth is, crafting pie and sharing pie has provided me with grace to do the next right thing, and meet the next right person. It’s a journey that’s opened doors in my life I never imagined possible.

In that journey, I’ve learned that pie truly brings out the best in us, at all times of our lives. They invoke a smile, which can change our hearts and our minds. They bring back memories and stories. Like precious time spent with family & friends, destinations we long to get back to or sometimes they may just make us hum a tune. At the end of the day, it’s not about the pie, it’s about the stories the pie creates. We’re on a mission to help you serve up those stories, one pie at a time.

Erin Boyle, Executive Director of CHOW

Erin Boyle

Executive Director

I am Erin Boyle, CHOW’s Executive Director, friend, sister, wife, daughter, duck and dog momma, potter, reader, crafter, walker, nanny and chef. I trained to be a chef at the Culinary Institute of America and have worked in San Francisco, Washington DC, New York and Denver. After almost two decades working in the industry, I transitioned to teaching and love it.

I have watched my staff, family, and friends in hospitality struggle with mental health and substance abuse. I, like many, struggle with depression, anxiety, and PTSD. In 2013, I found myself sick of the life I felt stuck in and found a therapist. She helped me to name the things I struggled with (depression and anxiety) and find coping strategies that work for me. In 2019, I decided to dedicate my energy toward improving access to mental health and wellness resources for all. As E.D. for CHOW I am focused on outreach and aim to normalize mental health conversations in the restaurant industry.

CHOW Head of Community

Jasmin Parks-Papadopoulos

Head of Community

I am Jasmin Vitolo Parks-Papadopoulos, former toxic Chef, currently Certified Life Coach. For years I struggled with High Functioning Anxiety, and it wasn’t until I delved deep into my behavioral patterns and life choices, that I could see how my most harmful traits and habits were nestled into the profession I had chosen. A product of the Great Resignation, I came to CHOW in 2020 for support in detaching myself from an industry that I had hidden my discomfort in for so long. I needed to find new ways forward and surround myself with people, like myself, who were struggling to establish their identity and support their mental health.

Now as a part of the CHOW team, I am passionate about building an interactive community that extends everyone the accepting and warm welcome I received when joining CHOW. My goal is to increase visibility for our organization and spread the word about our message.

Jada Vitolo

Jada Vitolo

Administrative Assistant

I am a professional photographer, organizational wiz and industry worker. As a third generation hospitality professional, I am passionate about supporting causes that promote wellness in the hospitality industry. I have struggled with Anxiety which ultimately led to me taking a break from the industry. I am so encouraged to see programming supporting mental health and I’m excited to be a part of the CHOW Community.

You can find me shooting lifestyle content in Italy, working on CHOW structure systems, and answering emails.

Leslie Pedersen - CHOW council

Leslie Pedersen

President

As a retired teacher, who grew up in an alcoholic home, with a daughter in the hospitality industry, I am humbled and honored to be on CHOW’s Board of Directors.

Zach Verwey - Vice President of CHOW

Zach Verwey

Vice President

Hi! I’m Zach Verwey, Licensed Professional Counselor and Business Director of Khesed Wellness, a Denver-based nonprofit that makes mental health therapy affordable for the underinsured. Having a background in hospitality management, I spent many years working in restaurants and food service, and I now utilize my training and licensure as a mental health therapist to advocate for greater mental health access in the hospitality industry.

Jessica Dean

Treasurer

I’m Jess Dean and I come from a diverse background in the foodservice industry. I’ve done a little bit of everything from resorts, to cooking schools, to wine bars. I went to Johnson and Wales’ culinary program to learn not only how to cook better than I was, but how to run an operation. My ultimate dream was to run my own business being a private chef, doing dinner parties and teaching people how to cook in their own kitchens. Kitchens were my entire life, and boy did I have a rough time along the way. Not only did I struggle with how to handle my mental health and taking time for myself, but watched family and friends struggle and even lose their battle as well. I learned that this industry can be difficult and wonderful all at the same time.

Before covid started, I switched industries to help people in a different way, when I came across CHOW. I felt I was able to give more back to the people that I’ve worked alongside who were just like me now that I had been through some healing and growth. And now I am happy to be a part of something that wasn’t available for me before, but is available now, because we all need a little help sometimes!

Amber Tannenbaum

Amber Tannenbaum

Council

I’m Amber Tannenbaum, a Denver-based chef and health coach, with a certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I started my career in human resources in the hospitality industry, working for companies like Walt Disney World and Aramark, before shifting into events to focus on employee appreciation and corporate events. After 15 years in the events industry I got burned out, and in late 2021 I chose to take care of my health (and follow my passions) into the wellness space.

In addition to being a health coach, I am also a Level III Reiki practitioner. And I have plans to study herbalism and somatic wilderness therapy, and dive deeper into how physical health affects mental health and the connection between what we eat and how we feel.

I am passionate about self-care and living a healthy lifestyle. I am also passionate about hospitality and employee advocacy. I joined CHOW to support a community and industry that has given so much to me, to promote wellness within the industry, and to advocate for hospitality employees. My goal is to be a friend and ally in lifting this community up to a happier and healthier place.

Rich Montoya Council Member of CHOW

Rich Montoya

Council

I’m a Colorado native with over 2 decades working in the service industry. While working in this industry I have met many challenges. CHOW has established an awesome organization that identifies many of the challenges we have all struggled with in the industry. I have struggled with an alcohol addiction, now I am in active and sustained recovery. My accomplishments include, BS/MA in human services, and a MA in special education. I currently work in the addiction/recovery field while advocating for those who battle addiction in our community. I am a board member of the Colorado Association of Recovery Residences. 

I have competed in the Boulder Ironman Triathlon and the Colfax Marathon. I enjoy spending time with my family and my puppy, she is a border collie/labrador mix.

Alfonso Martinez - CHOW council

Alfonso Martinez

Council

I am Alfonso Martinez, father, husband, retired 20 year hospitality ops exec and 20 year chief human resources officer. You name it, I did it…housekeeping manager, front office manager, restaurant manager, hotel general manager, regional manager, brand marketing, diversity, human resources, leadership coach! University of Denver taught me about business and Johns Hopkins University taught me about behavioral psychology. Baseball taught me about anxiety management, forgiveness, humility in victory and defeat, envisioning success, valuing the basics, helping others.

As a leader, my motivations always led me to helping others overcome obstacles be they self-imposed or not, and optimize their life opportunity. Born in the U.S. and raised in Mexico, I love to learn, debate, and improve upon multi-cultural issues in society and work. Spending many years in the front lines of the hospitality industry taught me a lot. Amongst my immediate family and friends and in my career I have observed and connected deeply to the realities of mental health and substance abuse challenges. I hope to contribute and impact all the above as a leadership coach, MBA student mentor, Baseball coach, and member of the CHOW community.

Shannan Reese - CHOW Council

Shannon Reese

Secretary

I’m Senior Account Director at Feed Media Public Relations & Marketing, where I am a Denver/Boulder based publicist for all things lifestyle, restaurant & chef related who loves outrageous metaphors, strong flavors, & epic storytelling.

CHOW Services

Download this CHOW Summary of Services for a comprehensive view of how CHOW can support you. Contact us with any questions!

Our Impact

We support hospitality people! Below is a small sample of what we are doing to positively affect mental health in our industry.

Sponsors

By Supporting CHOW you support the hospitality industry. Our folks are the bartenders and chefs and hoteliers that purchase for their businesses. Show your support and our members will see that you value their health and wellbeing.

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Chefs talking in a kitchen

Visit Our YouTube Channel!

We regularly post videos of our meetings, team bios and anything we think might bring value to our current and future family.