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.”
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.
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”.
Something about the mountains that bring out the best in me. It can be the Green Mountains of Vermont, the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the Catskills of New York or my favorite the Adirondack Mountains of New York. My whole sense of being is up lifted in the mountains. In addition to the mountains it’s the beautiful rivers and lakes that make me feel more alive and healthy.
My life at times feels like I’m floating down a river, or swimming upstream getting no where. Always waiting for that 100 foot waterfall up ahead to suck me over. My constant battle within myself to stay committed to a better life of sobriety.
It was time for me to stop talking about adding meditation to my life and start doing it. With that in mind I knew exactly where I needed to go to begin this journey. Knowing and doing are two different things. I’m sure everyone can relate to that in many areas of your lives. The hard part is getting from the “knowing” to the “doing”. One problem I needed to overcome was my fear of being with others in a group. Yet I was ready.
I needed to get to Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health located in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts. So my next move was to go to the Kripalu website to see what programs where being offered to help me begin this journey. While searching the programs it just jumped off the screen at me “Is your story making you sick”. Now that’s something I could definitely relate to. The three day program was beginning the next day. So I signed up that minute so I couldn’t back out. It was the best thing I ever did for myself.
If I’ve learned anything during my life of drinking it surely is that one day it will all change. The ups and downs and the consequences I’m willing to pay to pick up that drink. It’s not always a direct result of my drinking, but somewhere intertwined in the picture there sits a drink. Usually it’s more about my thinking and reactions to events due to years of letting drinking run my life. Let’s just say my growth as a healthy guy has been slow.
Yet through it all I strongly believe the sun will shine on a healthy life for me. I’m not one to give up, throw in the towel or let this be my identity forever. That is just not me it’s to easy. I’m always searching and moving in the direction of happiness.
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.