“As chef Eric Ziebold tells Morning Edition’s Renee Montagne, the world of elite restaurants is notoriously intense.
‘In the kitchen there’s an incredible physical pressure; it’s not uncommon for it to be an 18-hour day,’ says Ziebold, a Washington, D.C.-based restaurateur who for years was chef de cuisine at Thomas Keller’s Napa Valley restaurant, The French Laundry, which has three Michelin stars.
‘Outside of that, you get into the pressure of everything that it means to be operating a restaurant that isn’t just at the highest level, but a restaurant that is chasing an ideal,’ he says.”
“The apparent suicide of three-star Michelin chef Benoît Violier this week called attention to one of the facts of kitchen life, especially at the highest level: the intense and often unending pressure that defines the profession. Here to weigh in are chefs Michael Laiskonis, Paul Liebrandt, and Matthias Merges. We examine some key issues that go hand in hand with ambition: What draws a young cook to the most demanding settings? What are the costs of originality, brilliance, and acclaim? Will anything less get the job done? An unflinching look into what drives our finest chefs and whether or not anything will, or should, change.”
“There are several well-established outlets for chefs and other restaurant workers who need to deal with the crushing stress and demanding hours of their jobs: Alcohol and illegal drugs are big. So are screaming fits, or simply walking off the job in the middle of service. Those are the clichés, anyway, and they aren’t exactly healthy or sustainable methods for coping. Now, though, a growing number of people working within the industry say it’s time to pay attention to this problem and give workers access to programs that actually promote mental and physical wellness.”—Keenan Steiner