Sobriety in the workplace

For everyone that knows me is very familiar with the way I used to drink. I was very into partying and drinking lots and lots of whiskey. I drank whenever I could, before work, at work, after work. It was non stop, but I finally realized if I didn't stop drinking that I wasn't going to excel at my goals as a chef, husband or my individual self. So December 21st 2016 I stopped everything completely.

You may ask yourself how does one self work in such a high stressed environment and not drink, smoke or do drugs to take the edge off. Well for me I embrace the chaos, I use it to push everything out my mind and only focus on whats happening around me. Tickets printing, burners roaring, pans sizzling, knives chopping, calling out orders is all that I hear, see and do for 12 plus hours a day. This would drive most people nuts, but it calms my nerves even when I'm in the most un-calming situations. 

I find myself thinking about drinking a lot at work, not because I want to drink, but because It's around me everywhere I go. Alcohol is a key course to the dining experience, so there are bars and wine cellars to house the goods. You cook with it everyday to deglaze pans or flavor a syrup for dessert. It's a primary ingredient in a lot of dishes. Being a sober chef that's where I get my fix. I get to use alcohol in my food and not have to drink it. That may sound corny but thats how you have to look at it.

The percentage of substance abuse in the work place is outstanding. Nine out of ten people you work with smoke, drink or do both. Being the one person I feel it's my duty to show that you can be sober in the kitchen as a Chef. I talk a lot to the line cooks about drinking and cooking. Balance is key if you want to succeed as a Chef. Don't go out a get wasted every night after your shift. Go home and study during the week nights and have a fun night here and there on the weekend. I don't want them to go stagnant in their early 20's like I did. It can cause so much of your drive to be put on the back burner and that will put a huge halt to your progression.

Being a Chef takes lots of focus and passion, alcohol and drugs will blind that focus. Some don't see it that way, but once your a recovering alcoholic looking back you see what damage is done. I feel like I will always be 3-4 years behind from where I could be now. There's so much time and effort put into the kitchen life that you shouldn't cover it up with a booze. Take that effort and put it into planning a new dish, reading a new recipe or just pondering on what you could do tomorrow to elevate your self as a chef.

Don't get me wrong, I believe you can have the best of both worlds and do just fine in food and beverage. Just don't fuck it up. Thats the hard part, before you know it you've already fucked up. Now your in to deep and have to re-evaluate the situation you've created. Nothing is worse then working grill with a hangover day in and day out. 

My advice to any cook or chef reading this, is put all your passion into the good and bad of this field. Embrace all of it and fill your mind with the chaos of working the line during a rush, putting orders away or just simply preparing a soup. If can can find peace of mind with everything that comes with being a chef, it will clear your mind so much more then you ever thought drugs or alcohol could.

Sean MunshawComment