Chef's foundation helps food service sector workers with mental health expenses

Celebrity chef and CNN show host Anthony Bourdain has died at the age of 61 of an apparent suicide. One Houston chef is trying to spread the word that his foundation can help anyone in the food and beverage service sector who need assistance with mental health.

There are thousands of workers in the hospitality section in the Houston area. The jobs are tough, demanding, and the quick pace usually doesn't allow a chance for many to collect their thoughts. This is where James Beard Award-winning chef Chris Shepherd and his foundation, Southern Smoke, step in.

“We give money to fund any unforeseen expenses that are cause out of crisis, and we certainly know that mental health care is a part of what could be included in that crisis,” says Kathryn Lotts, executive director for the foundation.

“It’s long hours, it’s tough days, it’s mentally tasking, it’s physically tasking. There’s so many things, there’s ups and downs it’s an emotional roller coaster every day," Chef Chris Shepherd tells FOX 26 News.

Since many workers in that sector have no insurance, consulting with a mental health expert is an added expense that they can’t afford. Southern Smoke makes it easy with online applications and an approval process that’s quick and anonymous.

“It’s what we know and that’s the main thing," says Shepherd. "We do this all day every day, so we understand what people go through, and what hazards and what good things are there as well.”

If you work in the restaurant sector here in Houston and are in need of any type of assistance, you can fill out the forms on Southern Smoke.