Ignite The Conversation

What does Pilot Light do?

Pilot Light was set up in November 2016 by chefs Andrew Clarke and Doug Sanham to open up the conversation about mental health within the hospitality industry. Since then, they have been using their experiences and voices to help others find theirs.

  • We work with restaurants, hotels and suppliers, spreading the ethos of Pilot Light and raising awareness of our campaign. We also invite these organisations to sign up to our Pilot Light pledge showing their support for a change in the industry and to create an environment where speaking openly about mental health problems is as normal as speaking about physical health problems.
  • We know that the first step to helping people who are experiencing poor mental is to eliminate the stigma attached to having conversations.
  • We are working on bespoke training packages designed to address the stigma in hospitality and are working alongside mental health organisations to achieve this.
  • We want our support to be accessible to everyone.
  • Pilot Light hosts workshops, networking events and speaking sessions with the aim of connecting organisations and individuals who want to see positive change.

1 in 4 people in the UK suffer a mental health related issue. In hospitality, that number is closer to 1 in 2

Who are Pilot Light?

Doug Sanham, Co-Founder

Doug is a chef with over 13 years of experience. He’s worked hard through the ranks over the years to get himself in a position where he can look after and manage a team as Head Chef.

Doug has had his own journey with Mental Health, suffering with a form of disassociation that led to suicide attempts. Knowing the huge potential stress levels that come with the hours associated with being a Chef, Doug began to see the impact that mental health was having on his teams, especially the younger generation.  Doug then decided he wanted to try and find a way of helping and supporting the industry he loves so much.

In 2017 Doug won the Caterers Acorn awards for best 30 under 30, with his work as head chef, and for someone trying to push for change in hospitality.

Using the platform of his home region Kent, and the network of chefs that he has met over the years, Doug met Andrew, and Pilot Light was ignited.

Andrew Clarke, Co-Founder

Andrew is an award-winning chef and a prominent figure in the London and UK food scene. He has 23 years of professional experience in hospitality as a chef and restaurateur.

Having personally suffered and recovered from mental health issues over the years – he decided to post about his experiences on social media and was stunned when, overnight, he became inundated with stories from young commis chefs to major heavyweight Michelin-starred chefs sharing their mental health stories. This opened a public discussion about the lack of support for young creative people in an industry that has dominated the press with its bad reputation for bullying, high pressured environments, late nights and staff abuse. Andrew vowed to do something about it.

Andrew may not seem like the obvious spokesperson to talk about mental health but his honesty and encouragement to find solutions to combat the stigma surrounding mental health problems, is having such a profound effect on the industry that it has inspired Andrew to continue to spread his message outside of the catering world, into other workplace environments. He particularly wants to encourage young men to feel comfortable to communicate their mental health concerns in a safe and supportive way.

In 2019, Andrew was honoured to receive the Innovation Award at the Craft Guild of Chef’s Awards and later that year he made his way onto the Evening Standard’s Progress 1000 list as one of the most influential Londoners of 2019/20.

Whenever Andrew has any spare time, he plays guitar in the metal band Kandadar Giant.

Andrew is represented by Deborah McKenna Limited


    Our stories

  • Jools Moore

    Mental health week was last month. For me it’s every week, every day, every hour, sometimes the minute I’m in. I live with a brain that’s outta control sometimes. I’ve trained it to be on par….mostly. Read More

  • Doug Sanham

    I had a head chef, who, after I first tried to kill myself really stepped up to help me. He was really supportive. Really drove me. But still I could not speak. I just always said I’m okay. And there are times where I still say ‘I’m okay’... Read More

  • Darryl Quested

    I always find it difficult to explain my anxiety and depression to people, it all began with me at a young age, being diagnosed with GAD and depression at the age of 13 (the year my mother was first diagnosed with cancer) Read More

  • Chantelle Kallmeier

    Take a large bowl of high-profile customers, elevated levels of expectation and scrutiny, then fold in immense amounts of stress-induced adrenaline. Read More

  • James Douglas

    Before my entire world began to collapse around me, I thought I had everything under control.  I thought I had it all together and from the outside, to those looking in, I did. Read More

  • Tom Norrington-Davies

    As a fledgling restaurateur I found myself feeling responsible for every little thing that went wrong. Read More

  • James Hudson

    I have battled mental health issues since around my 16th birthday. I had just finished school and all the stresses of exams and bullying through school to losing my father suddenly overnight. Read More

  • Joe Laker

    I always considered myself someone who could tackle any problem life presented to me. Read More

We cannot do this alone! Together, we can create a community of like-minded professionals united by a common cause: to shine a light on these issues and act as a beacon of support to those affected by them.

Contact us at to continue this conversation.