All posts by Kat Kinsman

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

A Little Update

Hi folks—just dealing with a little fallout from this site having been hacked. (Seriously—who does that?) Some posts have been altered to include links to and festive links to pharmaceuticals. Others are gone entirely. I’m attempting to recover the data and hope to be back up and running properly soon.

Kat

The Post and Courier: Charleston chefs band together to stay sober

“Mickey Bakst did just about everything during his working years that were swallowed up by addiction. He did alcohol. He did drugs. When he was trying to prove to himself that he wasn’t an alcoholic, he did three bottles of NyQuil a night.

The only thing that Bakst didn’t do was die. It’s a miracle the Charleston Grill general manager attributes to the conviction he developed, around the time he woke up in a straitjacket, “that if I were to drink or drug again, I would kill myself.”

Bakst has now been clean for 34 years. His friend Steve Palmer, managing partner of the Indigo Road Restaurant Group, this month is marking 15 years of sobriety.”—Hanna Raskin

Read “Locals lead fight against substance abuse and other life-threatening issues in F&B industry” at The Post and Courier