My Story

Pressure Cooked: “Talk About It!”

Hi, my name is Geoff Tiller and I’m the Director of Pressure Cooked. I want to tell you the story of how Pressure Cooked came about and why I’m so passionate about it.  It’s a concept that was born in both a week, and over my 5 decades in the hospitality industry.  

I started as an apprentice chef at 15 years old; 45 years ago when Tik Tok Chef Influencers were science fiction and being a chef meant you were labeled as either crazy, gay or a drunk!  I started my own catering business at the age of 21, catering for everything from fine dining weddings through to street catering and camp-oven bush catering for 600 people.  I’ve managed and owned hotels and extensive hospitality venues, working hands on as well as behind the scenes in the finances, staffing and business development.  I’ve been a board member of the Australian Hotels Association and been involved in local, regional and state tourism.  I’ve trained many apprentices and hundreds if not thousands of hospitality workers, from dish kids to upper level multi-hotel managers, and I’ve competed successfully in Australia-wide cooking competitions.

I guess what I enjoyed as a young apprentice and chef was the challenge and the feeling of achievement when the compliments came, and as a hotel manager I’ve been told I have the best job in the world.  But there’s another side to it.

As a hospitality worker you’re much more than a cook or a barman.  On a single shift you’re a marriage guidance counselor to some, a psychologist to others, a person who can listen to heavy metal music all night when you hate it but the customer likes it, someone with a memory better than an elephant so you know exactly what your regular who visits once a month drinks, and a person with the patience of a saint as you stand and wait for a Mum and 3 kids to decide what they want to order when you have others  tapping with agitation on the bar for a beer.   All in an evening’s work.  And now in the age of Master Chef, where everybody watches celebrity chefs who can stop the camera rolling to get the food perfect on the plate, patrons are self-appointed food critics who want what was on TV last night in 10 minutes for $10.00.  You can get a bit stressed about it. 

Over the years I’ve been screamed at and generally abused as an apprentice and junior chef, had my head pushed through a wall, been punched, kicked and spat at, been embroiled in physical fights with patrons, and even threatened with a gun.  Being at work up to 7 days a week and often for 15 hours a day, and having to be available any time between 6am to cook breakfast and often being still in the bar at 1am the next morning trying to get the last patron that is on for a chat to go home, isn’t so good for family life.  From that follows divorce, and a crazy lifestyle of alcohol, bad sleep and eating patterns, and the grief of estranged children.  Not the best for your mental health.

In a recent moment of reflection, I picked up the phone to some old colleagues, and younger guys I’d trained as apprentices.  I rang a few, then some more, then everyone I still had contact with.  I was stunned to learn that only a few of them were still in the relationship they were in when I knew them.   Some were in pretty bad shape. I realized just how much pressure the lifestyle of hospitality workers can have on their relationships and health.  And that we don’t talk about it enough.  So, Pressure Cooked was born.

What do we do?  Pressure Cooked sells quality hospitality apparel with some carrying a logo and slogan to promote the hospitality industry and public awareness of the stress, social difficulties and mental health issues that face hospitality workers every day in this dynamic but fast paced, demanding industry.

100% of net profits from all sales whether they carry a logo or not are donated to Mental Health Charities including Beyond Blue, Black Dog, Life Line and other smaller organizations that offer support to those who have nowhere to turn when they need to talk about their problems.  It can be difficult to talk to friends or family, because most of the time we work beside them in hospitality and admitting that the pressure of the industry is affecting your daily life and health can be tough.         

If my story resonates with yours or leads you to think about someone you know and care for, buy a few things from the online store and feel free to contact us at Pressure Cooked with your story or write on our blog and share your story. Remember to Talk About It may help you and others.    


Thanks for listening.