We all know that addiction can touch every type of occupation. But it’s interesting to point out the impact it has had among professional chefs. In a recent article on TheFix.com, several high-profile culinary pros shared their struggles with various dependencies. They also pointed out, as a high-pressure industry, how easy it is to for those in the kitchen to fall victim to the trappings of drugs and alcohol.
Bringing the topic to the forefront, TheFix pointed out several celebrity chefs who have openly fought addiction. Food Network star Anthony Bourdain, for example, struggled with a pill dependency for much of his life. As a young restauranteur, he apparently dealt with many demons.
“As a young chef, I was a complete asshole,” Bourdain explained. “Selfish, larcenous, druggy, loud, stupid, insensitive and someone you would not want to have known. I would have robbed your medicine cabinet had I been invited to your house.”
Andrew Zimmern is another popular Food Network star who openly overcame addiction. He too rose to the top of the culinary ranks, but fought some tough battles along the way. As Zimmern told People Magazine earlier this year, there were times his drug dependencies led to incarcerations and even homelessness. He recently celebrated his 26th year of sobriety, but went into detail about how career pressures influenced his using.
“These pressures [coupled with childhood pain] led me to crash and burn in a very, very, very even more deeply traumatic way,” Zimmern explained. “I found marijuana and alcohol in the first couple of years of high school. Eventually I was a daily pill addict, a daily cocaine addict.”
One other famous face from the industry is Top Chef winner Michael Voltaggio. He echoed that sentiment as well and even went on to speak about how people who work in kitchens tend to be drawn toward addictive substances.
“We’re always looking for some form of intensity,” he told TheFix. “There’s this need to apply this energy to something, and I think chefs, all chefs, have this innate ability to have more energy than anyone else.”
As mentioned above, that may be part of the reason that cocaine has risen in popularity among this sect. Stimulants can be a popular substance in a fast-paced kitchen, where orders fly in deep into the night.
Voltaggio actually offered a little advice as well, encouraging chefs with these types of personalities to channel their energies into more positive outlets.
“Find other ways to distract yourself,” he said. “I think once you’re an addict or once you’re addicted or you have an addictive personality, you’re always going to be addicted to something, so find something positive to be addicted to.”