Dan Saladino investigates current pressures on chefs and the darker side of the restaurant kitchen. From breakdowns to addictions, is it a profession with more problems than most?
Dan hears from a range of chefs who open up about the way their chosen profession has affected their lives, including Mark Hix, Rene Redzepi, Matty Matheson, Paul Cunningham, Shaun Hill and Philip, who works through an agency cooking in the kitchens of pubs, chains and restaurants on our high streets.
Giving an over view is Kat Kinsman, a journalist who came out about her own experiences with depression when she was working for CNN in the United States. After meeting a succession of chefs who spoke to her in confidence about their own mental health problems she set up a website "Chefs With Issues". She's now head from thousands of chefs around the world who have spoken out about the impact the restaurant world and kitchen life has had on their mental health.
Mark Hix talks about his friend, the late chef Jeremy Strode who took his own life after decades of cooking in Sydney. Jeremy had invested much of his time raising awareness of mental health issues and had supported a suicide prevention charity, RUOK. Mark opens up about the impact Jeremy's death has had on him, as well as the wider pressures facing people in the hospitality industry.
Chef Paul Cunningham, describes how he woke up one Sunday afternoon and realising he couldn't move his left arm. A stress related blood clot was the cause and he ended up spending five weeks in hospital recovering. He describes the addictive quality of kitchen work, and also the stresses and strains it can bring.
Penny Moore, Chief Executive of Hospitality Action, the benevolent organisation set up in 1837 to provide help for people working, or have previously worked in the hospitality industry, explains that the hospitality workforce of more than 3 million, has higher rates of alcohol and drug abuse. The main issues they also deal with is bullying and harassment in the workplace. Penny believes a culture shift is underway in the industry with chefs, including Sat Bains, reducing working hours and opening times to improve the work-life balance of staff.
Philip, a 63 year old agency chef describes his working life in the kitchens of pubs and restaurant chains, saying a just-in-time work culture is making the profession a tougher one to survive in.
Shaun Hill, the celebrated chef at the Walnut Tree Inn in Abergavenny provides a reminder of why so many people love to work in kitchens and why he's loved spending his working life in restaurants.