A3: Panel | Mental Health in Hospitality 
Substance abuse, anxiety, depression, uncertainty, stress… While these mental wellness detractors can be present in all areas of the workforce, no sector is perhaps more exposed and more underrepresented than hospitality.  There are over 150,000 Albertans employed in the hospitality sector in Alberta, and over 50% of Canadians say they have worked in the hospitality sector throughout their lives.  Why, then, are there so few resources available to hospitality employers to support employee wellbeing and protect mental health?  In this panel, we dive into the toughest topics in hospitality as it relates to mental health and aim to provide clear actions anyone can take to improve workplaces across the hospitality sector. Panelists, who all have a diverse background in hospitality, will share their challenges, their successes and how their organizations are making mental health matter in the service industry.  
Meet your Panelists

Born and raised in Edmonton, Steven knew from a young age that family and food are tightly connected, and was fascinated by the important relationship they have to each other. It’s something that drew him to pursue his career in hospitality, and something that continues to drive him today.

He became the head chef of Chartier in Beaumont, AB in December 2016, Steve has received multiple accolades for his whimsical approach to French Canadian cuisine. Chartier was named the "Best New Restaurant of 2016" and "Best French Restaurant of 2016" by Avenue Magazine, one of the "Top New Restaurants in Alberta" from the Globe and Mail. Then in 2017 and 2018 one of “Canada’s Best New Restaurants” in EnRoute Magazine, and highlighted as a “Maverick Chef” In Quench Magazine for his support of local food philosophy.

In 2019 Steven moved on to open his new concept; MilkCrate. As the owner and chef he manages catering, specials dinners, cooking classes and consulting. He loves working directly with guests to create something unique and spectacular for them. Digging into the history of food and culture to bring out amazing stories to be able to express with food.

Steven also created a mental health initiative called MilkCrate Listen which shares mental advice and guidance geared towards members of the hospitality world. MilkCrate listens has conducted interviews as well has organized free mental health first aide training for hospitality members.

Bobbi Beeson is the President of The Cheesecake Cafe, a full-service restaurant group operating two locations in Alberta (Calgary and Spruce Grove) specializing in cheesecake. The Cheesecake Cafe is celebrating its 35th year in business in the summer of 2023. Growing up in the restaurant industry, Bobbi has years of hands-on experience in service, marketing and purchasing. Educated in both visual arts and business from MacEwan, both left and right brain are equally put to use when overseeing the operations of the Cafes. In late 2016, Bobbi took up one of the lead roles in establishing an Edmonton chapter of the Women Chef and Restaurateurs (WCR) Association whose mandate is to work together to connect, educate and nurture the lives and careers of women in the culinary industry.

Paul Shufelt followed his mom around the kitchen as a child but you could say his true culinary education began at 16, when he took a job as a dishwasher. After a short stint working in Montreal, Paul enrolled in the culinary apprenticeship program at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, while he worked under Chef Thomas Neukom at the Buffalo Mountain Lodge in Banff, AB. Upon completion of the program in 2001, Paul traveled to Switzerland to hone his craft, working with Chef Urs Thommen at Gasthof Baren Utzenstorf.

With his Swiss experience providing a strong foundation, Paul moved to Edmonton, taking the helm of one of Edmonton’s premier restaurant groups, where he resided for over ten years. After over two decades in the business it was time for Chef Paul to go it alone and fulfill his dream of opening his own place.

The inspiration for Workshop Eatery takes him back to his younger days, eating the bounty of the season and cooking simple comfort food, like mom used to. It was the culmination of over twenty years in the business and a lifetime of food experiences.

In the spring of 2019 Chef Paul set about expanding,creating Robert Spencer Hospitality and opening Woodshed Burgers, a more casual burger restaurant on Edmonton’s popular 124th St. Never one to rest, he also set about partnering with the City of Edmonton to provide the Food & Beverage services for Edmonton’s public golf courses, Victoria, Riverside and Rundle Park. As if that wasn’t enough, he elected to open a second Woodshed Burgers location in the summer of 2020, in the middle of a global pandemic, and then did it again this past spring, with the opening of Hayloft Steak & Fish. Today Robert Spencer Hospitality employs over 160 full and part time employees and contributes nearly $6M back to the local economy annually.

Along with sharing his love and knowledge of anything food related, Chef Paul enjoys giving back to the community by supporting two of his favourite charities, Youth Empowerment Support Services, and Ronald McDonald House. When he has a few minutes to spare, you can find him playing golf, watching his beloved Canadiens, gardening, and spending time with family and loved ones.

Meet your Moderator

Jim Martyn is the Head of People and Culture with The Canadian Brewhouse, The Banquet Bar, Ribeye Butcher Shops, and Plantlife Cannabis.  He has worked for 20+ years in Hospitality, and led culture and development programs for many national brands, including restaurants under the Moxies Group of Companies, Pita Pit Canada, and for 12 years The Canadian Brewhouse. Beyond work experience, Jim's main passion to work in the Human Resources sector is to support the growth and development of individuals in the hospitality sector.  In the wake of the pandemic, economic turmoil, and global socioeconomic issues, Jim believes that the most important skill in developing a mental health protocol in hospitality is building resilience. With a background involving Alcohol Use Disorder, diagnosed ADHD, and mild depression, Jim is not shy to speak on his own experiences.  By working with The Canadian Mental Health Association, Jim hopes to help others by providing anecdotal and scientifically supported tools to build a mental health program for their workplace that is cost effective and rapidly impactful. 

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