IFEX 2020 International Salon Culinaire Q&A With Mark Wilson, Fuel the Body Feed the Mind

Fuel the Body, Feed the Mind

Behind their smiles and their game faces, hospitality professionals are as prone to life’s challenges as anybody else.

Despite playing a significant role in the economy, employing 1000’s of talented people, the hospitality industry has a track record of being associated with poor mental health with many workers suffering from issues like anxiety and depression. As an industry associated with long and irregular, unsociable working hours in a high-adrenaline environment, it’s no wonder that the issue of mental health is taking its toll with many chefs, bar and floor staff suffering from burnout at some point in their careers.

We spoke to Mark Wilson, one of our Belfast Salon Culinaire judges, and Founder of Northern Ireland based company ‘Fuel The body, Feed The Mind.’ With over 16 years working within the hospitality industry, undertaking many roles, Mark believes there is a correlation between the food that we eat and how this can affect our mental health.

I have a passion for the food industry and relish the opportunity to explore my creativity through cooking good food. This was a key factor in my inspiration to set up Fuel The Body, Feed The Mind.

I believe that everyone can explore their creativity, enhance their physical and mental wellbeing through understanding food choice, the cooking process, how to engage and open communication while learning core skills to become more culinary active.

Over my industry experience working long hours in a demanding environment comes part and parcel of the job role. Even though we are preparing a desired culinary experience for paying customers, we as chefs are often subsiding our own nutrition.

Many will agree that in the hospitality industry, employees do not eat nourishing food at regular intervals or indeed hydrate efficiently. I feel that this is most certainly an aspect that needs highlighting.

I recognise what an important role food plays within our lives, as a Crohn’s patient for quite a number of years, I have become fully aware of how poor dietary habits, prolonged fasting and inadequate hydration has impacted on my personal health.

 At present I work as a lecturer for Belfast Central Training. I am responsible for inspiring young individuals to recognise their true potential, by delivering core qualifications needed to gain personal development and career progression in the food and hospitality industry.

I wanted to utilize my experience, so I have undertaken many volunteering roles within my local and surrounding community. It has been through working with a variety of ages and abilities, I have become more aware of how poor mental health affects us all. Mental health issues arise in all shapes and forms. For many the signs of poor mental health are not always apparent and build-up slowly over a prolonged period of time.

We live in a world which is so fast paced, that change is inevitable. We are being constantly subjected to influences, it can be really hard to distinguish our own thoughts and feelings from that of someone else’s.

Fuel The Body, Feed The Mind will not eradicate mental health issues, however it will allow an opportunity for individuals to take control of their own wellbeing by completing an important day to day task such as preparing and eating our meals.

With so many influences on healthy eating, recommended guidelines, and so much noise on ingredients, it can all get very confusing very quickly. Fuel The Body, Feed The Mind aims to help people learn to enjoy food, try new culinary experiences and make food choice’s that will have substance to fuel positivity. The company will explore options on how to counterbalance the food choices we make with physical activities.

Future ambitions for Fuel the Body, Feed the Mind is to integrate into many groups within our society from education and sports to independent organisations. The company recognises that it is not a one size fits all approach. Therefore, each demonstration and talk delivered will be bespoke to the individual clientele needs. I would love to see the company inspire people of all ages to make time for their wellbeing. This can easily begin with learning to love food.

Fuel The Body, Feed The Mind offers bespoke programmes, services and talks specialising in cookery, education and wellbeing. For more information or to get in touch with Mark, visit @fuelthebodyfeedthemind on Facebook, or call 07709 073 949.