All posts by Kat Kinsman

NPR: Bartenders Are Aching for Wellness

“The average leisure and hospitality employee stays at one job for only 2.2 years. With hazardous working conditions and low rates of health benefits, high levels of attrition are hardly surprising. With a chef shortage, attrition is costly and retention is vital for the restaurant industry. Chefs may love cooking, servers may have a passion for hospitality, and bartenders may excel at making drinks, but a harsh working environment may knock some would-be long-termers out of the game early.”—Dakota Kim

Read “New Businesses Give Restaurant Workers The Tips They Ache For: Wellness” at NPR: The Salt

Upserve: From Crisis to Purpose

“In hindsight, the turning point in my career probably should have happened 25 years ago.

I was 17, a busser who could clear dishes and reset tables faster than anyone – when it was busy. Slow nights I slacked off. Then a manager I respected pulled me aside and said, ‘There’s no doubt about your ability, but you can’t only be good when we’re busy, you need to be good all the time.’

The conversation stuck with me, but I wish I could say the lesson stuck. The reality is my years in restaurants led to a cycle of alcohol and drug abuse. And now, sober and in a new stage of my career, the restaurant is where I’m looking for transformation.

Anyone who started out in the restaurant scene when I did – the early 90’s – knows how much it’s changed. Back then, being a part of a restaurant staff meant being part of the party—which really, never stopped.”—Ted Ripko

Read “The Restaurant Scene Fed My Addictions. Now It’s Giving Me Purpose.” at Upserve

Sober spaces at festivals—your help needed

Hi, good people. A lot of the Chefs With Issues work that I do isn’t super public. It’s one-on-one conversations with people who just want to talk about what they’re going through and hear that they’re not alone, get resources for loved ones, or who can offer me advice and insight about what’s needed.

Through the course of this, a few themes emerged, one of which is that food festivals can be incredibly difficult environments for people struggling with sobriety. Alcohol flows plentifully, parties abound, and it’s part of the culture. Front and back of house folks are away from their restaurants and it’s a chance to party with friends they don’t see very often—and pretty often, the drinks are sponsored, free, and inevitably boozy. Not only is it hard to find a non-alcoholic drink sometime—it’s hard to find a place where it’s not aggressively in your face.

So I’ve brought up the notion of sober or chill-out spaces, and relaxation workshops or group discussions with the organizers of a few festivals and I’m pleased to say they’re listening. I’ll share any details as things firm up, but what I’d really like is to hear from you.

What would be the right way to do this? What do you need? I’m getting more and more comfortable hosting group discussions about anxiety, depression, panic, etc., but I’m not a member of the sober community and I want to be very respectful of people’s needs and protocols, and ask for all the help I can to shape it.

My main questions:

What would this space look like to you?

What resources would you like in it? (Massages, privacy areas, counselor, non-alcohol beverages, etc.?)

Would an onsite AA/NA meeting be of use?

What would the vibe be? (Chill spa, quiet, upbeat, etc.?)

How should the word be spread and how private should its existence be? (Obviously no press allowed.)

Should there be any rules? (Like no photos, no tweeting, etc.?)

Anything else you would care to share, I am open and deeply grateful. Send me a note via the contact form, Twitter or Facebook DMs or kat at chefswithissues dot com, and I’ll apprise folks as this takes shape. Thank you.

NY Post: Bartenders go sober

“For those working behind the bar, alcoholism is an on-the-job hazard. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, they are 2.3 times likelier to die from alcoholism than the rest of the general population is. Many of New York City’s top bartenders have given up drinking the very libations they serve.”—Michael Kaplan

Read “Why the best bartenders don’t drink” at the New York Post

Atlanta Magazine: Atlanta restaurant workers battle substance abuse

“The Indigo Road Restaurant Group’s Steve Palmer, an Atlanta native, owns fifteen bars and restaurants in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia—including Atlanta’s Oak Steakhouse, Colletta, and O-Ku. Palmer says his most important work, though, is for Ben’s Friends.

The 501(c)(3) is named for chef Ben Murray, Palmer’s friend and colleague who battled addiction and depression. Murray ultimately committed suicide last year, and Palmer founded Ben’s Friends soon after.

‘At its core, it’s a group of people who have a common goal of trying to stay sober,’ says Palmer, who has himself been in recovery for 15 years. The group meets every Sunday at an old cigar warehouse in Charleston. “It’s a safe space to talk.'”—Julia Bainbridge

Read “Indigo Road’s Steve Palmer wants to help Atlanta restaurant workers battle substance abuse” in Atlanta Magazine