On the IPOD, “Issues” by Julia Michaels
The article below is everything about being a chef. If you are in the industry and you are ignoring the truth of it then you are lying to yourself. The restaurant industry is such a perfect fit for kids like me who thrive with hands on learning and love to be creative unfortunately the job also comes with very deep rabbit holes that you have to watch out for.
Almost 20 years ago, I left the restaurant business to become a personal chef. At the time most saw it as a lateral move. But in truth it wasn’t...
“Famous chefs” were just really beginning, the Food Network was super green and women chefs were finally starting to break out of the pastry chef/baker position. I think in some ways I let some mentors down by choosing to go out on my own and cook in clients homes rather than work my way up in the exciting world of 5 star restaurants. I vividly remember a conversation in culinary school with my instructor who was concerned that I was going to get bored and accused me of wasting my “g-d given talent”. In truth, I actually agreed with him...
But I wasn’t wasting it in vain.
I made a choice. I had been working in the high end restaurant industry since I was 16 and don’t get me wrong it was exciting and fun and not boring in the slightest, but it wasn’t always pretty. Everyone was stressed. Self medication seemed to be the answer to everything. Divorces were being handed out faster than the numerous drugs changing hands and the question wasn’t whether someone partied it was more a question of if they were responsible and could party and still rally and show up for work on time? And let’s just say money wasn’t free flowing to the back of the house... no one was getting rich in the kitchen! So I made the ultimate decision that my LIFE was more important than excitement and possible fame. Honestly, I knew that I wanted kids and that I really wanted to be involved in their lives and I also knew that I hadn’t met a chef yet who was living their best life and had it all. Has it been hard to watch from the sidelines sometimes... hell yes! Is my job less stressful? Hmmm...in ways. Whether you work in an actual restaurant or at a home being a chef is not for the faint of heart. It can be an extremely lonely job even when you are surrounded by people everyday. Pleasing everyone is hard on either end and there is still the constant battle to stay ahead of the trends and the minuscule margin for error. Food just has to be extraordinary if you want to stay in business. To be truly successful you have to do everything above plus you have to have the perfect blend of cockiness and the ability to bend, a strong backbone and nerves of steel. If you don’t... pick another career because the culinary world will eat you alive! Am I content with my choice? For the most part yes. I get to have this amazing personal chef business with the best clients and rock out some crazy over the top intimate dinner parties. I still work crazy hours and almost every freaking holiday...But 85% of the time I get to put my kids to bed and take them to school in the mornings.
I also get to watch some extremely level headed talented chef friends throw down some killer Dallas eats... one who I grew up with (Eric Dreyer) and one who has grown up with me since culinary school and who has continually been a supporter of mine and listener to all of my crazy ideas (Oliver Sitrin). They have both done AMAZING things in this industry and I can’t wait to see what is still to come for them!! Will this always be enough for me... most definitely not! I have a fire in my soul just waiting to come out...when the time is right. Being a chef for the last 24 years has been such a gift and I’m excited to continue, but tonight I am going to bed a bit sad that so many in my industry are still struggling with everyday demons. The stigmas of getting help are still rampant. I don’t know the answer to fixing it but it isn’t just about posting suicide hotlines and blogging about better healthcare. Don’t get me wrong those are absolutely important. But we need to change the way we talk about mental health. So I’m asking you all a favor... if you are taking medicine for depression or anxiety or if you are like me and have been going to therapy since the age of 7 or even if you have ever felt overwhelmed by emotions (so pretty much everyone!!!) I want you to talk to your kids about it. I want you to explain to them why you take medicine or why you go the therapy or tell them about a time in your life that wasn’t comfortable emotionally and then I want you to give them the gift of being able to ask for help... explain to them that if they ever want to talk to someone or if they feel sad or even afraid or stressed that it doesn’t mean they are weak or weird and that there is help available. Maybe just maybe if we make treating their brains and hearts as important as honing their sports skills we will end up with a generation of kids who will prioritize their mental health and who will never feel like ending their life is the only option.
Rest easy Tony. 👊🏻 ✌🏻 ❤️
Xoxo chef A