Alex is a freelance food writer and owner of a food and restaurant digital marketing business called The 5th Sense. After years of struggling with her own mental health, as well as hearing from countless interviewees, clients and friends about the issues they face, she knew she had to do something about it.
In May 2018, she wrote an article about mental health in the Denver restaurant industry for 303 Magazine. After an overwhelming response, she called one of the subjects of her story — John Hinman — to ask if he’d be willing to help her grow the story into something more tangible.
CHOW (formerly called Mile High Hospitality Hazards) was formed just days before the news of Anthony Bourdain’s tragic suicide was released. In the months since, Alex and John have hosted bi-weekly meetings and worked with other Colorado organizations to see how they can expand CHOW further.
John is Denver’s undisputed pie master. He owns Hinman’s Bakery — an 11,000 square-foot retail and wholesale bakery and cafe in Park Hill. He’s worked in the industry for more than 20 years, in more than 8 restaurants across Denver alone. But, as John put it in his initial interview with Alex, “In this industry, what makes you great also breaks you.”
While working in the industry, John struggled with an alcohol addiction that lead him to 3 DUIs and 90 days in jail. One of Denver’s best pastry chefs found himself at 37 years old, homeless and sleeping on his mother’s couch. He wrote about his experiences in a 2017 edition of Lucky Peach.
(We’ve republished that here… RIP, Lucky Peach.)
John has now been sober for 7 years, and he uses his past experiences with addiction and recovery to help others through AA and CHOW.