Category Archives: Essential Reading

Some Heavy Reading

It’s been a while since I did a roundup of stories dealing with mental health and hospitality, so here are some highlights. I’ll be adding more to this as I find them.

‘Did I miss him asking for help?’ After death of Ocean City chef, a look at suicide in restaurant industry — Baltimore Sun

Sober and still cool: Celebrity chefs buck addiction to lead wellness movement — USA Today

Amid sad stories of addiction and suicide, one Sacramento restaurateur is fighting back — The Sacramento Bee

How Restaurateurs Can Advocate for Employee Health and Wellness — Toast

A New Kitchen Culture: Mental Health & Sobriety in the Restaurant Industry — Open Table

4 Restaurateurs Leading the Crusade for Mental Health — FSR Magazine

On the anniversary of Anthony Bourdain’s birth, it’s time we talk about depression — Washington Post

Why We Need to End the Stigma Around Mental Health in the Restaurant Industry — Spoon University

California Chef Aims To Help Restaurant Workers Prevent Suicide — NPR

Renowned Chef Gerard Craft Opens Up About Mental Health Journey In The Restaurant Industry — St. Louis Public Radio

Chef David McMillan on substance use, sobriety and support in the restaurant industry — The Splendid Table

How the restaurant industry is tackling its substance abuse problem — LA Times

Family shares story of local restaurateur in hopes of raising mental health awareness — WKYC3

Can Restaurants Be Fixed From the Inside? — Grub Street

After Bourdain, Mobilizing to Create a Safety Net for Chefs — Civil Eats

The restaurant industry has a mental health crisis — The Outline

In the Restaurant Industry, Improving Mental Health Feels More Important Than Ever — Eater

Shedding a Light on Mental Health in the Restaurant Industry — Buzztime

How mental health checks may help restaurant workers temper destructive stress — PBS News Hour

The Mental Health And Addiction Epidemic Ravaging The Restaurant Industry — Carrie Luxem

Mental Illness and the Restaurant Industry — Marketing 4 Restaurants

A Reckoning With the Dark Side of the Restaurant Industry — Wall Street Journal

Hospitality Industry Makes Efforts To Address Mental Health Issues, Addiction — The Fix

LA Weekly: I Walked Away to Save Myself

“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.

New York Times: A Bourbon-Loving Chef Goes Sober

[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

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