Category Archives: Kitchen Life

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.

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.

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.

Good Food: Let’s hear it for the chefs

Hours before the release of the 2016 Michelin Guide, 44-year-old chef Benoit Violier took his own life. Violier’s restaurant Restaurant, de l’Hôtel de Ville, in Switzerland got three Michelin stars in 2015 and ranked at the top of France’s La Liste guide.

Violier’s tragic death has reignited the conversation about stresses that chefs face in kitchens. Kat Kinsman writes about food and mental illness and is an editor at the website Tasting Table. Kinsman talks to Good Food about her new project Chefs with Issues, an online repository collecting first-hand accounts about working in restaurants.

Hear the story at KCRW’s Good Food.