A Chef, Without the Line
Part 1: The unedited thoughts of a chef who struggled with suicide and substance abuse; beginning a new life through music.
My life was always surrounded with food, by food, and for food. If I could change time and redo my life, I would want nothing to do with food—this career, lifestyle, and its personalities.
I cannot stop contemplating what my life would be if I hadn’t become a chef. As a kid, my interest always lied elsewhere; through speed, the wind blowing through my hair with every gear change, and music playing, destroying my ear drums as a form of meditation of rhythmic orgasms. I lie in bed thinking, I F%*!ING hate my life the last five years, every single day and night. I grew up in a society, a shitty narcissistic family, a culture that was nothing more than a child to discuss to colleagues during cocktail hour as bragging rights through their success and financial stability, and I couldn’t stand it.
My family is the type that dedicated themselves to hard work, but with hard work, there had to be a financial showcase to show for it. The house, the cars, the devices, the extravagant trips, blah blah blah. In order for any acceptance or understanding, a wealthy bank account needed to speak numbers as success, and my career path never allowed me to do this. Neither my skillset nor talent was ever a form of wealth in my family’s eyes. Just because I was good at what I did, didn’t mean it would pay the bills, keep the heat on, and provide my next meal. Little do people know, kitchen pay rates are terrible (especially in a mediocre food city). The hours are long, the pay is best described as “servant” like, and you have no life. Especially with Michelin Guide aspirations.
I always felt like I was cooking for money, never for the passion, and it began to destroy my passion when I realized how financially unstable I was living from paycheck to paycheck—and sometimes no paycheck at all. I started to sleep in my car during the winter when my electricity was turned off to charge my phone and have some heat source for the next grueling six hours of sleep. I ate only at the restaurant, knowing that my card would be declined at the dollar menu drive-thru. I felt embarrassed that people saw me as this talented well-off chef, but I had nothing to show for it except how I could literally serve them and cater to them. I had become a talented servant amongst everyone and my envy of people I knew and their ability to travel, eat, as well as families and friends, began to make me hate myself and what I had become. I saw my greatest friends every night. Jack and the captain while I was inebriated dreaming of being on a beach thinking of how Svedka was the only one. No matter how intoxicated I got after every shift through alcohol or drugs, I never went into work drunk or influenced. I always cooked with an open and clear mind knowing I didn’t want my food to be a representation of my inner demons I was locking away inside. Cook, sleep, party with your demons every night, repeat. My life was now ran by envy, the idea I needed to impress everyone—especially my family—and I had an addiction to make food that had to be Michelin Star quality every single time.
When I started cooking, I began cooking for pure passion and for the love of food. I loved what food did to people, how I could make them feel with every morsel of food and palatable experience I could give them. The excitement and what people would celebrate around food and others company. I’m a firm believer that food will bring world peace at some point. When do you ever see people pulling guns on each other or arguing over the perfect sauce or perfectly cooked steak at a dinner table? Never. You hear things like "FAWK" over a bite just taken while eyes are rolling to the back of the skull—and when it's even better, almost the sound of silence. Food brings happiness, joy, and enlightenment… but only when you’re on the other side of the window pass as the patron. Not as the cook missing holidays, special occasions, birthdays, and anything of a momentous occasion.
I’ve had amazing opportunities from food, cooking for many famous people, alongside famous chefs at very famous establishments, but at the end of the day, I was never satisfied that this was my life and everything I wanted it to be. I never woke up wanting, excited or wishing to get back into the kitchen to cook. I’m sure I did at some point, but I’ve drowned out my memories of that through drugs, sex, and alcohol. Every addiction I could get my hands on to avoid any thought about the kitchen and its bullshit. I always saw the kitchen as a chore because of the people in the kitchen that couldn’t handle the “heat,” stress, or understand the push. I hated working with certain personalities that were not cut out for the high pressure and constant push to produce. I felt I was no longer a chef or a leader. I was becoming this "babysitter" carrying adults like a piece of luggage and I hated every single moment of their shitty attitudes, self-entitlements, and their conniving and manipulative ways of not being able to handle kitchen work and what a kitchen has to produce every moment on the line. On a side note: Anyone thinking to cook for a living or every person who steps into a kitchen as a “career,” should write a report on chefs such as Marco Pierre White, just for example. People think kitchens are so hard these days and the work needs to be catered to their needs, skillset, and desires… it’s almost as if they are living on fantasy islands and they should change their name to “Tattoo.”
Marco Pierre White would destroy them and their shitty beliefs they would call “work.” #justsaying
At work, before work, after work, I would always dream about tour buses, living on room service, and being in a different city every night meeting new people every day. I couldn't get this image out of my head. I wanted fame, but I didn't care about the fortune. I knew I was meant for bigger things than working 12- to 15-hour days serving others and hating it at the same time. I just didn't know how to read the signs the universe was giving me.
I always found myself stuck in the sludge of a life I couldn’t get out of, where I felt no one understood my push for perfection of food—the art and the dedication. I loved the push during dinner service. The yelling, the screaming, the art of plating, the ticket rail stacked with every ticket needing to be out in 10 minutes or less. The push of dinner service was always a turn on for me. I will never miss that part of the kitchen. The push always determined who “had it” and “who didn’t.” It was like sex to me.
I know exactly what killed my passion in the culinary world and when. It was the people and my family. I hated the conniving and manipulative entitled personalities in the kitchen, especially the self-entitled restaurateurs who had money, but didn’t know a single damn thing about food, running a restaurant, food cost, labor budgeting, etc... nor even how to cook a f*%-ing egg. I could not stand how people would wear their emotions on their sleeve and literally cry like an adolescent child’s tantrum over their poor work performance and personal actions they were being held accountable for. I hated how I was trying to jump through hoops constantly for my family’s approval of my career path and life style, when all I wanted to do was cook and make people happy through food. I never started cooking for money, and my family will never realize that or understand the passion.
I began to realize I lived in a very pretentious small city that had mediocre “chefs” at best, titling restaurants after their name, mediocre food and restaurant owners that felt they were the “big fish in a little pond,” and everything they touched turned to black truffle and Foie Gras. I was disgusted with the people in the industry in the city I lived in and how arrogant they displayed mediocrity at its finest as if it was their job... oh wait, it was their job. I was not the best chef—I was definitely far from it—nor do I portray myself with a higher god-given skill or talent. I just pushed myself harder than most to be great at what I did and master a trade. I can only describe the truth of a city that has mediocre talents and places themselves on a pedestal with food as if they are New York City or Chicago.
Here is my story, how music kept me from jumping off a cliff, and my struggle of suicide, alcohol, and substance abuse through the beginning of my journey to my career aspirations of a Michelin Star Chef.
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