“You’re too talented to be a dumbass.”

 

How many people that you know in this industry are addicts? Mentally unstable? Both?

This was the whole purpose for this blog, is to understand why this industry finds the people that are “one step above carnival folk” are talented or worth while or robots or anti-social or addicts or crazy..  the list is full of extremes.  WHY?

Are we a product of the environment or are we drawn to this because we were wired to be this way before we could count?

I can tell you many stories of addicts, crazy folks in the industry for days..

One person that I knew that podiumed on a famous television show cooking competition used to stash pre-made cocktails all over the restaurant so that they were never without an adult beverage.

Another would regularly raid the pastry station of “whip-its” and get so stoned that they were basically brain dead for service.

I would get phone calls from a chef’s girlfriend asking why I let him drink so much that she was concerned he wouldn’t wake up.   (It was my fault?)

I walked in on someone in the wine-room doing a whole mess of cocaine (maybe?) off an actual bottle of wine.

There have articles and biographies written, about these “wonderkinds”.

These are the “brilliant ones”.  The people that had this natural skill needed to succeed in the restaurant industry.

I start to attribute this to stress.   But that can’t just be it.  I imagine an ER doctor is swimming in more stress than a chef could ever take on.

What about the creative nature of the job?  Some of the most successful people in the industry, are likely sober. Look at the Pellegrino list..   But are they the ones putting ants on ice cream? Probably.  So, what the hell?

So, the next most likely thought is that we only know about people in this industry having a higher incidence of addiction/mental illness is that society puts them under a spotlight.   Your favorite celebrity-accountant doesn’t share the same stage as your favorite celebrity actor.

Why the hell is Chef X important for serving ants?

Q: Who the hell wants to eat ants?  A: Lots of people.   And this didn’t come into vogue because my sober mother (who only eats well done steaks) thought it would be tasty or that there is nutritional value in it.  It came up because, like Radiohead, Van Gogh, or Elon Musk… someone saw things in a little bit different light.  That person had the canvas to express themselves.

Society cringed at first, then we had an “ah-ha” moment.. but I guarantee that it took someone either in a dire situation or someone just said “lets see how far we can go”.

Back to chefs, artists, musicians, etc..  My dilemma with them is that they had sobriety and education to create something that makes sense.  Where did that train derail from something that is classically accepted?

You look at Alinea or El Bulli.. What I think becomes interesting is that someone had a new idea, and they had the wherewithal to keep that in the confines of a system.   El Bulli is famous for taking a concept and documenting it’s values to death.  So, creativity meets systems..

Addicts need systems to survive in society.   Thats it.   I need to know where the day is going to go.  If not, I use alcohol to flip the light switch to await a new day.

 

 

 

What is the next fad?  I’d place my bet that its from the chef that has a bit of a storied past.   But it won’t be successful without a support system and sobriety.

Can’t wait.

The Trust Equation

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+/- Trust = Time + Consistent Behavior

 

I wish this was more complex.  But it’s true.  All you need to do is exhibit a behavior consistently and people will come to define you by it.  Bad behavior, over time, will develop distrust from people that care about you.

Obviously this works in reverse.   For example, this coffee shop makes the best cappuccino in town CONSISTENTLY.    Not only will I be exclusive to this coffee shop, I will tell my friends all about it.

Its okay that mess up, barring that you don’t make the same mistakes frequently.   This goes back to step 10 (taking personal inventory).  If you make mistakes, own up to them and swiftly resolve them.   That is all anyone wants.

And, on the cynical side of it, NOBODY REALLY CARES IF YOU MESS UP. You could be a fuck-up all day, and if that is what people come to expect of you, its not that you disappointed them, it is that you set that expectation.

Be a fuck-up, be a saint, be a know-it-all, be drunk, its only cementing how people perceive you.

On a positive note, any of the bad things you think you have done, you can undo.  It just takes time.  Be persistent.  I trust you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monster Cookies

Here you go.  Your first recipe.

love,

J.

Monster Cookies               Date: 1-4-2017

 

  • 3 Eggs (Large… or try 1 duck egg.. I dare you)
  • 1 ¼ C Brown Sugar
  • 1 C Granulated Sugar
  • ½ t Salt (Kosher)
  • ½ t Vanilla (if you have beans handy, trade up for a bean) (also, if youre crafty make some vanilla salt (store your spent beans in kosher salt and save for a rainy pastry day)
  • 12 oz Peanut Butter (Jiffy is my favorite because its almost Jeff-y.  Be a grown-up and get chunky)
  • 110 g Butter (use grams, you caveman)
  • ½ C M&M’s (or the equally cool but misrepresented “Magic Pieces”)
  • ½ C Chocolate Chips
  • ¼ C Raisins
  • 2 t Baking Soda
  • 4 ½ C Rolled Oats

 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats.
  • In a very large mixing bowl, combine the eggs and sugars. Add the salt, vanilla, peanut butter, and butter. Mix well. Stir in the chocolate candies, chocolate chips, raisins, baking soda, and oatmeal.
  • Drop batter however large you want 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.
  • NEVER EVER EVER JUST EAT THE DELICIOUS BATTER BY ITSELF OR FOLD INTO YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM.
  • Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Do not overbake. Let stand for about 3 minutes before transferring to racks to cool. When cool, eat all of them immediately.  Don’t share with friends or enemies.

 

Victims Unite

Demands made upon other people for too much attention, protection, and love can only invite domination or revulsion..”

Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, pg. 44

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Karpman’s Triangle.   This idea of this is that in a conflict, there are three components essentially struggling for power.

The victim is the person in the conflict that is being oppressed, feeling hopeless, powerless, ashamed, etcetera.   The only power that the victim holds is the power of escape.

The persecutor is the person placing blame, often being oppressive and authoritarian. This person holds the power of control of the victim.

The rescuer is responsible for helping the victim out of the conflict.  They feel guilty when they’re not able to help the victim.  The primary interest is to avoid their own problems, which are disguised as concern.

The drama triangle begins when someone takes the role of  the victim or persecutor.  That person then feels the need to enlist another party into the drama, and this is where the conflict begins.  The motivations for the players for this is that each gets their psychological needs met in a way they feel justified, without having to acknowledge the harm done in the situation as a whole.  This is in a sense a sub-conscience selfishness for the individual.

The role of the rescuer is, to me, the most interesting person in this situation.   They really have little to gain in the conflict. They may say, “I am acting to help the victim” , where what they are really doing is deflecting or attempting to take another role.  Ego may be the biggest driving factor for this role, everyone likes to feel like the one who rescued.

When you look at the rescuer and victim the triangle, you may notice that there is some codependency happening.  The rescuer may keep the victim maintaining their victim status by encouraging them to continue their behavior.

I suppose my goal in sharing the idea is so that you recognize your role in any conflict.  Be real with your emotions.. Try to avoid being a persecutor, and if you’re the rescuer think of who you’re really rescuing.

Also, I’m aware that “persecutor” is misspelled on the image above. ..just wanted to see if you noticed.

…Relapse Prevention (part one)

This is my struggle lately.  Alcohol has dulled emotions, helped me to fall asleep, made life more livable..  Alas, I am out of control.  As the twelve steps would say, my life has become unmanageable.

I don’t want to change.  Alcohol simplifies everything.

But, for those of us that need to change our thought patterns, here are some examples of how to change..

First, acknowledge your emotion.  Check out my post on mindfulness.  Being aware of your thoughts goes a long way.

So, lets start with acknowledgement.  With any of these, try completing the statement “I feel…” then take a suggested action.

Anxiety

  • take a nap (not too long though)
  • journal your gratitudes (you need to stretch this one out.. give me 20)
  • meditate

Sadness

  • journal
  • call someone that understands your feelings

Fear

  • keep your routine to the letter (no matter how bad it gets, keep going)
  • be in contact with a trusted friend
  • find a safe space

Frustration

  • practice controlled breathing
  • journal/speak your mind out loud
  • meditate

Loneliness

  • call a trusted friend or family member (They want to hear from you, I promise.)
  • write a letter or send a card (there are few things better than receiving hand written letter or card)
  • email (for those of you that have zero patience)

Self-Pity

  • call someone supportive
  • play the “How-Could-This-Be-Worse” game
  • do something rewarding for yourself (within reason) (you deserve this)
  • focus on things you can control

Shame

  • focus on the present (see mindfulness)
  • own up to your mistakes (this goes a long way)
  • be honest
  • let it go

Depression

  • exercise
  • treatment!
  • call your friend/sponsor
  • do something you’re good at
  • walk a dog.. unless its not your dog and you don’t have permission.   (don’t steal dogs)
  • AA (I guarantee that someone has a story that trumps yours)

Try some of these.   Your substance of choice doesn’t need to be the cure-all.  Just be aware of what you’re feeling and follow some steps to get you back to the present.

/ˈmīn(d)f(ə)lnəs/

Before we get into a lot of specific topics on mental health, I wanted to bring up the idea of mindfulness.  In a nutshell, this is accepting your feelings, thoughts, and how your senses are perceiving your environment.  It is a concept in therapy where the person practicing acknowledges and accepts the present.  This can be practiced through meditation or simply noticing things in the moment, such as the weight of your phone or how you felt when someone paid you a compliment.
The importance of practicing mindfulness is broad.  One of the most important reasons to practice is that it improves your ability to cope with stressful situations, therefore reducing your overall stress, depression, anxiety, and sleep problems.  This simple practice of coping and being self-aware generally leads to a positive outlook on life and just feeling good!
This practice can be quite useful in the hospitality industry.  We are expected to react in the moment while maintaining perfect composure towards our guests.  Practicing mindfulness increases self-awareness and how we react to situations.  If a guest were to tell you that your soup is salty, your immediate reaction is usually to respond quickly and defensively.   Rarely have I seen new cooks take a moment to accept the feedback, calmly investigate, then correct the situation.
I want to take a moment to recognize that there are different types of mindfulness.  Chewing gum or squinting when light is too bright is different than something like making eye contact in an uncomfortable situation.   Its safe to assume that you do pay attention to squinting, and how the light is affecting you.  Just take note of when it is happening.  Understanding and repeating mindfulness in simple situations will make the more complex situations less daunting.

Instructions for Practicing Mindfulness:
 1. Pay attention to one particular thing or event in your present moment.  This can be something such as petting a dog or listening to a joke.  Take note of how your dog is reacting to you, how soft it is,  What is the tone of the joke teller?
2.  Stay focused on the subject.  Bringing yourself to the present is paramount to mindfulness.  Notice when you start to wander, then bring yourself back to the moment.
3. Keep practicing.  Live in the present!


Day Two

Today is the beginning of a site that will become a resource for people in the hospitality industry experiencing mental illness and/or addiction.  My goal is to create a forum for hospitality industry workers that is accessible to anyone needing help obtaining mental wellness.

Day two is all about acclimating to the real world.  I spent the last few weeks under lock and key due to my alcohol abuse.  “Hi, my name is Jeffrey, and I am an alcoholic.”

I will also be touching on different mental illnesses that seem to commonly pop up  in the industry.  From anxiety to mindfulness, positives and negatives, and why we are attracted to this career path.

If you’re open to the idea of sobriety and positive mental health, you’ve found the right place.

I look forward to hearing your stories.

Fondly,

J.