“Always do sober what you said you would do drunk. That’ll teach you to keep your mouth shut.”- Ernest Hemmingway. Words that ring a little too true today on day four. Things were going swimmingly when unfortunate events triggered the crave for my security blanket. The Bottle. Always welcoming, always there, wrapping me in it’s warm embrace. As I sit here typing on my third detox caffeine free tea, I’m learning we in the kitchen are more dependent on liquid courage and other substances than we realize.
In the kitchen world we’re under a lot of pressure we may curse at the time, but we always go back for more. It’s a drug. A euphoria like no other. The rush, the heat, the yelling, chaos, but crawling out of the weeds wartorn and cut to pieces, is why we love the business. What happens when the lights go out and the rush is over? Those lonely nights from pretty much a 99% chance any romantic attempt crashes and burns like a rookie garde manger during a salad sale. Your wife leaves you from never being home, you work for meager pay and financial troubles weigh heavy. You dive into whatever your poison is that gives you that escape and the rush of the line. For some chefs, the line is the only place they feel like they belong. If it’s such a rough life and so drink inducing why do it? Because we want to cook as much as we want to breathe. So we cope the best way we know how.
Now, I am green and haven’t been in the kitchen world for very long, however I have come from many other careers that are similar in it’s ability to drive a nun to do a line, sales, the car business, the military I can go on. What I’m learning is that after a bad shift the first thing I reached for isn’t the only answer. I couldn’t imagine having a day like today and not throwing back a 6 pack like water. But here I am. Stone cold sober and studying, writing, cleaning, anything productive to keep my mind off of what is ailing me and inhaling a bottle of cheap chardonnay like it’s youth juice.
I knew this day of purge week was coming. The day the wall of lack of liquid courage would smack me right in the face, and honestly I learned something about myself. I am a little shocked at how much it’s affecting me. A sign that even I have fallen a bit into the slippery slope of kitchen substance abuse. Not an easy bite of gristle to chew for sure.
I’m not saying I’ll cut out a glass of nice wine or a bourbon occasionally but being a rocket on rails to the nearest bar after a rough shift or another failed relationship from my peculiar schedule, isn’t the answer chef. No way no how. We as cooks, chefs, are inherently arrogant about our ability to take whatever is thrown at us, we’re the tough guys/gals. We’re the badasses of the kitchen. What is so bad ass about drowning yourself in whiskey because you can’t deal with a little shitstorm once in a while?
So, when life throws you the weeds, stand up, shine those danskos, and break out the weedeater and go to town. We’re better than this. Think of the recipes you could create in the kitchen instead of nursing a hangover? Shift was rough? Tough. Dating life blows? Tough. Life sucks, get a helmet. This is a business of pressure and passion. Man or woman up and instead of grabbing that bottle, needle, pill, whatever, grab some tea, study a cuisine you’ve never heard of, write, draw, shoot guns, hell do yoga. (See post on tai chi day two).
Don’t be a glass cannon. Dont be a beast in the kitchen and then let a drink make you it’s b^&*#. You’re better than that Chef.