Depression, anxiety, addiction, eating disorders and more. They run rampant in the food community, and they’re so rarely discussed, let alone treated. Let’s talk about it.
This is a bit of an experiment after the message boards on chefswithissues.com got spammed and hacked. Great conversations were happening, but it was impossible to moderate. So I’m giving this a shot and trust that people are here because they want to talk openly and honestly, seek help, and help others.
Talk amongst yourselves in the Facebook group, restaurant folks. It’s a closed group and I’m going to try my best to only admit people from the industry. What happens here stays here. If you’re a journalist sticking your head in, hi there. I respectfully ask that you refrain from reporting on any conversations you see happening.
That’s it, really. Connect, chat, be cool to one another. If anyone wants to help moderate requests, just send me a note. Chefs With Issues on Facebook
UPDATE: For folks who have asked, yes, Chefs With Issues is still very active and ongoing. Most of the work is done person to person, or via this very lively Facebook group.
“At the supposed peak of my career, with a James Beard nomination and a string of other awards in hand, I broke. Except this time I couldn’t keep going. My restaurant was failing; in spite of the immense press we received, we remained mostly empty, often cooking for just a handful of people each night. I had been battling a lawsuit brought by a former customer, and I had eaten myself alive with self-doubt. I possessed no coping skills. I had abandoned my friends and family. I’d completely tuned out the advice of teachers and mentors. What played out over the next few months was a cliché: The restaurant closed, I filed for bankruptcy, and I took stock of my life and saw nothing.”—Ari Taymor
Read: I’m a Chef Who Walked Away From a Dream Restaurant. Here’s Why.
[Sean Brock] he has a new mission. Forget cooking shrimp and grits, he said, using a much stronger verb. “Anybody can do that,” he said. “I have this opportunity in front of me. If I can inspire people to take better care of themselves in this industry, that will be my greatest contribution.”
It’s not just about alcohol, he said. It’s about teaching people in the restaurant business how to ask for help.
“Suffering is suffering,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you are addicted to porn on the internet or you’re codependent or you’re addicted to gambling or if you’re addicted to ‘The Real Housewives of Atlanta.’ You’re suffering, and that’s what gets us into trouble.”—Kim Severson
Read: Chef Sean Brock Puts Down the Bourbon and Begins a New Quest
“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
“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