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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Bartender with costume

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.

Melinda Dorn - Outreach Coordinator for CHOW

Melinda Dorn

Community Support Specialist

As a culinary professional for over 25 years, I worked closely with folks from a wide variety of backgrounds. Many, like myself, suffered from mental and chemical health issues. I am proud of my time working in the hospitality industry and equally proud of my journey in recovery.

I’m passionate about helping the industry move toward a future where workers’ wellness comes first. I share my story of both struggles and success, because I trust that through mentorship and peer support, the hospitality industry can create healthier workplaces. I believe people shouldn’t have to leave the profession to live well.

I joined CHOW in September of 2020 as Outreach Coordinator in an effort to bridge gaps and build connections with the dozens of great organizations already supporting industry workers. I want everyone to know that the conversation around improving our industry is ongoing; and that the fight for a safe and sane workplace is NOT OVER YET!

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!

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.

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.