Restaurants Are Finally Prioritizing Workers’ Mental Health …

by Carolyn Alburger

@CarolynAlburger Feb 28, 2020, 11:00am EST

https://www.eater.com/2020/2/28/21153232/mental-health-in-restaurant-industry-staff-well-being-patrick-mulvaney

From capped working hours to peer-to-peer counseling, restaurant owners and managers are working hard to help their staff feel safe and stable.

Twenty years ago, a restaurant owner at highly acclaimed Charleston, South Carolina, restaurant Peninsula Grill gave his manager, Steven Palmer, two options: go to rehab or quit. Palmer — a promising young restaurant professional — was struggling with an all-consuming addiction to cocaine and alcohol. After going out seven days a week until 4 or 5 a.m. for 10 years, Palmer started what he called a difficult journey through Alcoholic Anonymous 12-Step program. What he faced when he returned to restaurants was also daunting.

“The general stigma at that time was that you absolutely cannot be sober in the hospitality industry,” Palmer says. “The sober life in a kitchen was very lonely back then.”

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Writing a new life story…

The time has come in my life to leave the past behind, to be the person I truly am, to live a healthy alcohol-free life.

I have learned through out my life that beating myself up over past mistakes does me no good. It only drags me down even more. I’ve always knew my drinking caused me pain in all areas of my life. My relationships have suffered, my career, my health and just about every other part of my life has been affected by my alcohol use. Yet through all the ups and downs I refuse to give up. I have used this as a motivator to rewrite my story.

What can I say I’m a slow learner. It takes what it takes and believe me it has been some ride. I’m sure a lot of you reading this know exactly what I’m saying. I believe no one will change until they make the decision to change. You know the saying “if nothing changes, than nothing changes”, or something like that.

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A Chef’s life…

This was a Chef’s life. A cook that brought all people together from all parts of the world. A guy that could relate to the everyday Chef, he was NOT a Food Network celebrity Chef. He lived the long hours on his feet, the low pay, the no benefits, and mental fatigue of the kitchen.

This is a quote that many Chef’s can relate to by Anthony Bourdain, I know I can relate to this.

“I understand there’s a guy inside me who wants to lay in bed, smoke weed all day, and watch cartoons and old movies. My whole life is a series of stratagems to avoid, and outwit, that guy”.

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Above the clouds…

Where have I been? That’s a good question. Being a Chef is a very consuming job. It just takes over my whole being. My life in food has been a constant battle of time. How do I work while not letting the job suck the rest of my life out of me? I love what I do, the long hours, fast insane pace and the food. It’s my life.

My alcohol addiction went hand and hand with my profession. Drinking to access night after night after 15 hour days. It was what we all did. Many Chef’s have burnt out due to the lifestyle. It all catches up with you and you just can’t do the grind anymore. Your choice is either get out or try to stop drinking. Or even better both. I went with stop drinking, address my demons, and build a life outside of the kitchen.

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Acadia National Park…

My trip to Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine. My father was a great and humble man. He was a architect by profession and loved to spend time in the Mid Coast of Maine with Mom. We would rent a house on the water and enjoy all Maine has to offer. Walk on the rocky coast, eat lobster, visit the quaint towns, kayak, and just relax. It was our place to go with the family and my Aunt Ro and Uncle Walt.

Dad and Mom loved Maine so much they decided that when they retired they would live in Maine. So my Dad bought some land and designed a beautiful modern house on a lazy quiet wooded lot. Well as life goes it didn’t go as planned, Dad died of cancer. Yet Mom built the house anyway. What a beautiful house it’s so serene and quiet, you can feel Dad’s presence.

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A ride through the farmlands…

Rode through the farmlands on a hot summer day. What a beautiful ride past the corn fields, the Delaware River and rolling hills. The Jersey corn, tomatoes and fresh produce at all the farm stands along the way brings memories of growing up in Jersey.

I have been cycling a lot this summer more than ever. Doing an average of 75 miles a week. In fact my health has never been better. It has helped me to stay positive and to keep protecting my alcohol free life. My biggest obstacle at this point is eating. I have to make it a priority to eat in the morning. With working out, cycling and being sober it MUST BE A PRIORITY!

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A new day, a new blog…

This blog is about living a alcohol free life with all it’s challenges. What life as a Chef is all about, it’s rewards, challenges and most important the FOOD. Also my cycling journeys.

Where to begin. Still navigating this whole blog thing. A little about me, I’m a Chef, an avid cyclist and live an alcohol free life. My battles with alcohol go back to my teenage years. I’m 56 years old so I’ve been battling my demons for most of my life. What I have learned more than anything else is to NEVER GIVE UP.

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