About us

The CoVid-19 Employee Assistance Directive (CoVid-19 E.A.D) was created in the wake of the collapse of the hospitality industry due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The initiative was started by two bar owners who were just trying to keep their recently stood down employees fed.

This quickly turned into an outreach program with the mission of raising the spirits of as many unemployed hospitality professionals as they could afford to feed.

All members of the CoVid-19 E.A.D are volunteers and all funds are used to purchase, prepare and deliver food and essential supplies.

Founding members

Jason “Jackie” Chan, Chairman of the Board & Chief Culinary Officer
With over 25 years experience in the hospitality industry – 17 of which in Australia – Jason Chan is best known as the co-founder of award-winning venues and brands including:
Batch Espresso
Seamstress
Hats and Tatts
The Westwinds Gin

Jason is a very private person and it took a lot of cajoling to allow us to publicly associate him with this program.

Henry Le, C.E.O
As the first-generation son of Vietnamese immigrants, Henry was raised with hospitality running through his veins. From nightclubs to silver service, he worked most roles in hospitality before becoming a corporate day-walker. He rejoined the hospitality family last year by becoming one of the managing partners of Ends and Means.

Jez Berwick, Chief Procurement Officer & Kitchen Co-ordinator
Representing Power to the People, Jez is a private chef operating out of the Big Group kitchen in Fitzroy. She answered the call to arms when the two-man squad became overwhelmed with requests for assistance.

Iain Ling, Board Member
After dominating the restaurant scene in the UK for over 5 years, Iain ‘Lingy’ Ling took up roost in Melbourne back in ’09. Since then he’s at the forefront of reviving one of the city’s oldest pubs, the Lincoln. In 2018 he ventured two doors down from the Lincoln to open Super Ling, a great little Chinese eatery with phenomenal food. More recently, Iain has moved into consultancy, advising on new venues and re-imagining existing spaces, as well as being a regular speaker on panels discussing the many aspects of the hospitality industry. Like, why wouldn’t you want him on the team?

Jason Lui, Board Member
“I am. Flower Drum.”

Executive Team

Richard Warneke, Chief Marketing Officer
Richard is the founder and managing director of RW Marketing.
Richard graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce and Law. With over a decade of experience, his knowledge-base and expertise extend throughout numerous industries; including consulting, food and government. Richard has worked hard to ensure that RW Marketing isn’t just another marketing company; it’s a community. He curated a team that understands the importance of relationships and connections with clients and community.

Ryan White, Chief Operating Officer
Ryan White is our Chief Operating Officer with his roots running deep into the core of the Melbourne hospitality scene. While he has a successful career in the finance sector, working multiple analyst and management roles, his devotion lays with hospitality. As co-owner of Ends & Means, he poured the foundation of this charity. Due to the amazing expertise and independence of our team, Ryan has opted to take a step back and offer his help when necessary – always with his renowned sense of humour and probably a VB or cruiser in hand

Dean Jarvis, Director of Case Management
Dean Jarvis has a long and comprehensive career in the hospitality industry. With a background specialising in luxury brands and multifaceted international organisations (including The Walt Disney Company), he was an indisputable power-house to have behind this operation. As Director of Case Management, Dean can synergise his talents at creating efficiency and having a fine-tuned attention to detail with his passion for mentoring and leadership. Dean seized the opportunity to utilise his expertise and help our community right from the very beginning and his drive to get help to every last person keeps our whole team motivated.

Ayla Azure, Human Resources Manager
Ayla Azure was born for the hospitality industry and has refined her craft internationally over the last 15 years. With experience in the kitchen, behind the bar and managing the venue, she is an epicurean by nature, with a passion for flavours and the finer things in life. However, at her very core, Ayla is a people-person, which is why she was an obvious choice to be our Human Resources Manager as well as the herculean role of Driver Logistics Manager. She understands the complex requirements put on the people and the venue – even through a global pandemic – and continues to prove that it can be done, and it can be done with fabulous hair. She works often and she works hard and at the right time, she will recommend the perfect drink to cap off your busy day.

Holly Bridget Sperrin, Executive Assistant to the C.E.O
Holly Bridget Sperrin has a 15-year long career in the hospitality industry, powered by her deep appreciation for customers and culture. She has been a bartender, managed hospitality venues and with degrees in Art Design and Art Curatorship, successfully curated and managed an art gallery. Holly applies her fierce intelligence and creativity to her role as Executive Assistant to the CEO, having the distinctive quality of an out-of-the-box approach to problem-solving, producing a smooth and efficient workplace. She has a razor-sharp focus on human engagement and our community, showcasing a personal pleasure from her work with Covid-19EAD and a promising career trajectory wherever she chooses to go next.

Riou Lidderdale, Delivery Logistics Manager
There is no word to describe Riou Lidderdale other than unique. Hailing from the Orkney Islands, an archipelago off the coast of Scotland, Riou’s career has been broad. With experience from construction to tiny food trucks and expansive restaurants of Melbourne’s hospitality industry. He stepped into his role as Delivery Logistics Manager with the humble and kind-natured approach Riou is famous for. He is quietly enthusiastic, offering a helping hand to any staff member within our organisation, and with his multitude of talents he is often the first person asked when assistance is needed. Riou feels a moral obligation to work at Covid-19EAD, feeling passionate about helping our hospitality community and the integral international members of Melbourne feeling isolated during this pandemic.

Jenny Schmidt, Director of Communications
Prior to joining the Covid-19 EAD team as the Director of Communications, Jenny Schmidt was showcasing her terrible puns with The Big HOO-HAA — Melbourne’s longest-running, best-smelling comedy improv show. With a B.F.A. in theatre and a background in events, Jenny has worked a multitude of fabulous and fascinating jobs. Memorable things she’s done for money include making Marvel arts and crafts with Katie Holmes, putting the pedal to the floor with a professional racer in a $150,000 Jaguar, performing as an oompa loompa, and pushing a giant touring truck out of the mud on a sheep farm in regional Victoria. Hailing from Seattle, Covid-19 EAD’s commitment to supporting international workers is near and dear to Jenny’s heart.