“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
“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
“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
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.