We caught up with Andrew Clarke, award winning chef and founder of The Pilot Light campaign, to talk about his journey with mental health & CBD

What is your profession?

Chef / Mental Health Ambassador. I’ve been a chef for the past 23 years but actually retired from restaurants and kitchens last year. I now work more within the field of mental health and wellbeing.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

Helping others. While I have enjoyed many years cooking and teaching a new generation of chefs their craft, Pilot Light has given me an opportunity to help people on a deeper level with their lives, in an area that needs so much more attention.

What are your hobbies?

Music/Guitar. Writing. Travel. I was a musician before stepping into a kitchen and I thought that’s where my life would remain. But working as a musician doesn’t always pay the bills, so I found myself in a kitchen. 23 years later I can finally support my music, so I’m back in bands playing!

Tell us a bit more about The Pilot Light Campaign

After sharing our stories on social media, Doug Sanham and I set up Pilot Light to break the stigma around mental health in hospitality – raising awareness and creating a safe space for individuals to share their stories.

Last year we teamed up with JC (Movember co-founder) pulling in more resources and turned a part-time campaign into a full-time business – hosting events, building online resources, training packages and workshops.

Although Covid has slowed us down a little, we’re resilient and we’ve never been so relevant. We’re navigating our way through the storm well.

Are there any concerns that you’ve been trying to address with CBD? For example, sleep, anxiety, pain, skincare.

Inflammation and joint ache. As much as I hate to admit it, or indeed acknowledge it, age brings with it one or two aches and pains that are a clear sign that I need to start looking after myself a little more. I’m only 42 but after many long hard years in a kitchen, I sometimes feel much older. But CBD and a change of diet and lifestyle are quickly putting things right. Oh, and I started yoga so that helps too! It is also calming and helps my anxieties.

How has Covid-19 affected your life/lifestyle/routine?

I actually started making big changes to my life just before covid. I stopped cooking last September, so I was trying to adjust to life outside of a kitchen. I think that lockdown just gave me more reassurance that I was on the right path. It gave me time to step back and focus on my health (physical and mental) and build a new routine and lifestyle.

Why do you use CBD?

I trust nature. I’m a huge advocate for plant medicine. While I believe modern medicine has done its wonders, I also think many diseases can be cured through gut health and what we put into our bodies. Plants have been an important part of our evolution and our answers lie out there in nature.  We just need to find them again.

How long have you been using CBD?

4 years – on and off. CBD is becoming more mainstream and affordable, but I found it hard to justify the expense early on. However, as my priorities in life in changed, I realised the money I would use for a night out would be better invested in my health.

What’s your daily/weekly CBD routine?

I take oil every morning, under the tongue as standard. Then treat myself with CBD drinks and snacks through the week.

What has been your experience with CBD so far?

When trying cbd for the first time, there’s no noticeable difference. It takes a few weeks of constant use. But then one day you’ll notice that your joints are no longer aching or tight and you feel calmer and clear headed. It definitely notices more when I stop taking it.

What is the most exciting thing about the CBD/Cannabis industry?

I’m loving the fact that mainstream medicine is waking up to the fact that nature has the answers – especially for mental health. So much more research is being done in plant medicines to help with depression and anxiety. I’m really hoping to see cannabis and mushrooms legal in the next few years!

What are your favourite CBD brands and why?

I’ve tried a few brands now – Bluebird Botanics, Evielab, Potli, Trip, Vital Leaf to name a few. I always enjoy what I try, but I don’t know if I could single out a brand.

What do you wish brands were doing better or more of?

Higher doses. Haha I’m a big guy, so I think I need more to make a difference. Or maybe I’m just greedy!

What is your favourite way to consume CBD? For example, oil, vape, capsules, etc.

Oil – it’s a habit now, so I’m hooked. Rubbing the oil onto my hands cleared up a skin condition caused by wearing rings and has healed tattoos quicker too. Is there a tattoo cream on the market?!

What is your go-to product?

I’ve been using Bluebird Botanics oil, but I also like using the handy Evielab Pearls.

What product(s) are you dying to try?

I really like the drinks and teas, so always interested to try new products there. I once tried a Potli chilli oil, which was delicious and really hope to see more of that on the market. I’d put it on everything. I’m interested to try more creams and skincare stuff. I haven’t really looked into that much, but again, I trust the healing powers of the plant!

Taleesa Warrior

Taleesa Warrior

e-Commerce Manager, South London dweller, leopard print lover. Advocate of cats and espresso martinis.

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