Mise en place literally translates to “everything in its place”. It’s a French culinary term referring to the practice of preparing a workstation before service.

Minds en Place, a new Melbourne-based hospitality consultancy, from Colournary founding editor Rushani Epa and OKO Restaurant founder Sebastian Pasinetti, takes the practice a step further.

The hub helps businesses in the hospitality industry prepare their teams in terms of workplace wellbeing and gives them the tools and education to make the workplace safe for all people. As Pasinetti says, the aim is “to essentially prep the mind”.
To achieve this mission, Epa and Pasinetti have assembled an Avengers-like team of experts, including Carly Findlay OAM, from the fields of mental health, disability, anti-racism, sexual safety and LGBTQIA+ advocacy and education.

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The Minds en Place team audits companies using surveys specially designed by its workshop facilitators and uses the information gathered to identify areas for workplace improvement. It then tailors diversity, equity and inclusion training workshops according to business needs and budget.
It’ll also organise food from BIPOC chefs and caterers including Mabu Mabu, Ngọc Trần of Shop Bao Ngoc and A1 Bakery, so there’ll be no boring ham and salad sandwiches at these training sessions.

It’s a quietly radical concept and, given the many workplace health and harassment issues in the industry, something that will add real value to the hospitality world. To learn more, Broadsheet asked founders Epa and Pasinetti all about Minds en Place.

First of all, what is Minds en Place and where did the idea for the business come from?
Minds en Place is a hub for diversity, wellbeing and hospitality. We offer workshops, events, catering and [access to] networks that can produce and foster meaningful connections.

Businesses are trying to address the issues of diversity and mental health without having the tools or knowledge to do so. Rushani and I have over 30 years of combined experience working in hospitality, media and events, as well as the not-for-profit, corporate and government sectors. At Minds en Place, we create a safe space for people by drawing upon these lived experiences.

How does Minds en Place work with businesses?
Pasinetti: We offer a vital diagnostic tool for HR and bespoke training to understand and address the client’s true needs. Our workshops are hosted by organisations and individuals who are leaders in their fields, and cover mental health first aid training, anti-racism and cultural diversity, disability and accessibility, LGBTQIA+ allyship, sexuality and gender.

The business provides a one-stop shop that calls on experts to address social and cultural topics like mental health and diversity and manages retention by maintaining safe spaces for all kinds of teams.

How long have you been working on Minds en Place?
Even before we met each other we were working towards a similar goal so it’s been a long time in the making. Officially, we’ve been working on Minds en Place since April this year.

What kinds of businesses do you work with?
Minds en Place has a core focus to bring this much-needed education and platform directly to the hospitality industry. Under that umbrella, we work with restaurant groups, manufacturers and everyone from executive management to waiters and food runners on the ground floor.

What key issues is Minds en Place working to resolve?
There have been a few big issues that have popped up for both of us during our time working in various settings. One of which was having undergone DEI [diversity, equity and inclusion] training that was lacklustre and hosted by people that weren’t diverse or who didn’t have any lived experiences with the issues they were discussing themselves. This meant they wouldn’t provide a safe space and would often victimise or tokenise diverse people, or just gloss over big issues entirely.

Another was working at places that lacked diversity, or in which diverse people were the minority. This would [result] in microaggressions in the office or having to be the token minority voice against issues like appropriation. And then there are issues like burnout that are not being addressed. The list goes on.

It would often be the reason someone leaves their workplace, because their needs aren’t being met or they don’t feel that work is a safe space.

That’s why we have teamed up with experts across mental health and DEI who have lived experiences with the subjects they’re handling. It’s really important because they can provide insights, knowledge and tools for businesses and employees that they might not otherwise have.

We recognise that this isn’t always done by businesses in malice, and it can be easy to overlook the importance of these measures when you simply set out to run a business, but when people are behind what you do, it’s imperative you address them as such. We’re human beings and our needs need to be met.

The end game for us is to create a safe space physically, emotionally and psychologically for everyone in the workplace.

You have some amazing workshop facilitators, can you tell us a bit about them?
Our workshop facilitators are some of the best in the country.

Kelly’s Cause Foundation, a foundation founded in the UK to deliver mental health first aid training specifically to the hospitality industry, was a shoo-in. I was head of partnerships in the UK and was responsible for bringing the foundation over to Australia with founder Tobie-Anna Durk.

Hue, Colour the Conversation was founded in 2020 by two women of colour, Elsa Tuet-Rosenberg and Sonia Sofat. They upskill and empower those seeking to learn about and challenge systems of oppression to create safer workplaces and social change.

Carly Findlay OAM is an award-winning writer, speaker and appearance activist. She writes on disability and appearance diversity issues for news outlets including CNN, Vogue, the ABC, the Age and Sydney Morning Herald and SBS.

Queer Town, founded by Archie Beetle, is on a mission to ensure that LGBTQIA+ Australians can focus on their work when they’re on the job and enjoy the experience when they’re at events without feeling out of place, unwelcome or discriminated against.

Not So Hospitable, founded by Jamie Bucirde, is a grassroots hospitality movement highlighting the prevalence of sexual assault, sexual harassment and bullying that fosters a toxic workplace culture within the hospitality community and beyond.

We are so proud to have partnered with these amazing folks and are excited to enrich the Australian working culture with their expertise.

This is just the start. What do you have planned for the future of Minds en Place?
Pasinetti: The world is our oyster. With the rise of placing importance on wellbeing and social change across the globe we really see Minds en Place becoming a global organisation that is accessible by all industries.

We truly believe that for change to occur, it takes a collective effort in recognising and addressing the issues that go unnoticed, and all you do is couple that with nourishing ourselves and our community with delicious food, which is a universal need.