Reason 10,000 why Andrew Zimmern is a personal hero

From Andrew Zimmern’s website:

“Devoted to celebrating, nurturing and preserving America’s diverse culinary heritage, the James Beard Foundation is very dear to me. I’m excited to offer the Second Chances Scholarship again this year. The $10,000 scholarship will offer a student faced with extreme challenges—whether health, addiction, family, unemployment, etc.—a second chance to overcome these hardships and follow a culinary path. I was once given a second chance myself after struggling with addiction, and it’s important for me that others are given the same opportunity to turn their lives around. I couldn’t think of a better organization to donate to.”

See more information on how to apply at andrewzimmern.com

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We have the power to make it stop.

Just a note: I haven’t been posting here as much because I’ve been hunkered down on edits for my book “Hi, Anxiety,” but in the past week I’ve had the privilege of getting to speak about the issues around mental health and the food industry at both the annual Cherry Bombe Jubilee and the Chefs Collaborative Summit in New York City.

I was able to speak for a little bit longer at the former, on the same topic but geared a little bit more toward women in the food world, and this is roughly what I said.

I’m so incredibly grateful to be here today with all of you.

Our friends and colleagues are in pain and they are dying. We have the power to make it stop.

That might sound a little dire, but consider the fact that in February, the shortest month of the year, three (3) different chef-owners took their own lives. And those are just the restaurant workers who made the news. Doesn’t include, say, a manager who overdosed. A commis who finally succumbed to liver failure. A prep cook who got in his very last bar fight.

Or maybe for some reason, three doesn’t seem like much to you. Stuff happens. It’s just part of the industry. OK—at that rate, we’d be up to 36 in a year. 360 industry leaders dead in a decade. Can the industry afford to weather this loss? Can we as human beings?
Continue reading We have the power to make it stop.

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Power Hour: What Makes a Healthy Kitchen?

“What makes a kitchen healthy for employees? Healthy food for restaurant workers? One wage for FOH & BOH? Paid time off? Listen to Saru Jayaraman (Restaurant Opportunities Center United), chef Evan Hanczor (Egg), Kat Kinsman (Tasting Table) and Andrew Friedman (Toqueland, The Front Burner with Jimmy and Andrew) as they dive into approaches for creating a healthy kitchen, restaurant, and environment.”

Learn more about Chef Power Hours at Chefs Collaborative.

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Boston Globe: Why working in the restaurant industry can be hard on your mental health

“There’s a Sisyphean nature to the work,” says Strack, who studied psychology before becoming a restaurateur. “It’s accepting and welcoming, but at the same time, there’s an unrelenting nature, which is going to find you out sooner or later. Restaurants are creative and artistic communities with a higher tolerance for eccentric behavior. People are drawn here because it’s an alternative lifestyle. It’s fundamentally different than a 9 to 5 job.”—Kara Baskin

Read “Why working in the restaurant industry can be hard on your mental health” in The Boston Globe.

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Infrequently Asked Questions

So I’m still in the throes of a book deadline, but I do take time out (a.k.a. procrastinate) to read the survey results, emails and contact form submission forms that come in via this site. More that 1200 of them at this point, so I’m a little bit behind, but I did want to take a moment to respond to the single truly angry (and anonymous) communiqué that I’ve come across.

The person who wrote it (they signed it “a cook”) had some very strong feelings, so I’ve addressed each of them individually.

“Get the fuck out of the kitchen.”

I’m actually in my office. Better wifi in here.

“You think you’re doing something important? That you’re helping improve the would-be chefs/chefs?”

Well, I hope I am. And seeing as more than 1200 industry professionals have reached out to take part in the project, either by taking the survey, emailing or reaching out via the contact form like you did (though most of the latter chose to include their name, unlike you—but that’s fine) to ask how they can help, I’d say that’s pretty indicative of the fact that I’m not the only one who thinks there’s a crisis going on in the industry.

“You’re a fucking joke.”

Then it’s not a very funny one. If you sat down with me and spent just 15 minutes going through the notes I’ve gotten from people in the industry who have lost their loved ones to overdose and suicide, or chefs, servers and restaurateurs currently in the throes of despair, depression, anxiety and addiction, you might need a tissue, too.
Continue reading Infrequently Asked Questions

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