I didn’t know him well, but our paths through the Saratoga restaurant landscape did cross briefly.
He was a sous chef in the kitchen when I arrived. He was welcoming, friendly, and eager to learn new things. He expressed interest in furthering his culinary talents. I found him to be a good student, and a positive person to have around.
There was one problem with him, he was drinking on the job, and had issues with drugs. Did that make him a bad guy? Of course not. It did however make him a bad employee. Over the years I’ve been guilty of having a beer, or a shot of something to “settle my nerves” during particularly stressful times, but to simply consume alcohol or use drugs has never really been my thing.
I started to suspect something was going on with him and kept a watch on things until one hot day when we were both drinking Gatorade. At one point I grabbed the wrong bottle and got a snout full of vodka. He was fired and, on his way, out I asked him to get help with his issues. He said he would, but I should have known better.
A few days ago, he lost his life to heroine. I didn’t know him well, but I liked him. He was friendly to me the few times I saw him since I facilitated his firing. He appeared to harbor no ill-will. That was apparently who he was. Since his death I have seen on social media an awful lot of positive comments about him and I knew it firsthand nice he was and how friendly he was.
He was a talented young man who had a problem. He knew it, I knew it, and I have spoken to people recently who knew it. We should have known better.
I’m certain this is my last post for the summer. I’ll be too busy with work and I want to get a project off the ground that I’ve been working on too slowly. This project is literally a matter of life and death.
Chefs 4 Chefs needs some attention and that’s what I’ll be working on while I’m not in the kitchen. I call anyone interested in helping to email me or message me on FB. I also encourage anyone who wants to sit and talk over a cup of coffee to do the same, I’ll make time for you.
This is an important project that needs to get off the ground. Depression, drug and alcohol use, and other issues are too common in our kitchens and I don’t see much of a support system out there. Step up, be a leader and mentor and join me in curbing some of the problems that face our industry. Like Chefs 4 Chefs on FB (a website is coming) and watch for a get-together soon to talk about how we can help.
Just continuing to fire people and have someone else take on their issues isn’t working. We should know better.