Cooking isn’t for the faint of heart, nor is business, and at times nor is life.
We have all heard the stats. In this world, we are equipped with so many tools by which to communicate, social media, texting. Yet we are becoming increasingly more and more disconnected from one another. Morph that into the world of restaurants. You need only open your Instagram and see that everyone with a smartphone has suddenly become a food critic. The internet has become the modern day bathroom stall wall. Faceless, often not credible and often hurtful words can be written with little or no consequence. Now layer in the dynamic of your profession as a chef, one that you have made every personal sacrifice to be successful at, is now entirely predicated on external validation. You’re only as good as your last dish, or is it now your last review?
I’d encourage you to watch the BBC series (available on YouTube) called, Michelin Stars The Madness of Perfection. This is an amazing insight into the constant pressures we as chefs and restaurateurs subject ourselves to. Yes, I said that we subject ourselves to because we do. We are chasing the approval of our guests, journalists, and critics.
Of course, there is a business, and success piece attached to such validation. Watch the documentary, then imagine being Marco Pierre White. Amazingly powerful. If I asked most people a little over a year ago who Anthony Bourdain is, I am certain that most would be able to make reference to the critically acclaimed Chef / Author / TV Host / Celebrity with some accuracy. Now how many of those same people would have said that he is suffering with some form of depression and or mental illness?
Only since June 8th 2018 did the world know. There is truth to the saying it’s not all it’s cracked up to be yet many would long to have the level of stature, no matter how shallow. Such a tragedy. “I am not ok upstairs if I am not ok downstairs” is often how I capture my reason for physical health. I’ve never really been concerned about body image in a typical fashion; it’s more so about feeling good with the guy in the mirror. Cycling has become one of the most enjoyable ways to not only stay fit, but it also is a hobby that I can enjoy with my fellow chef colleagues, uniting both passions while benefitting my health. This allows me to stay focused, more resilient and more importantly more present no matter what others are saying.
Not only am I concerned with our guests’ experience, but it’s also the well being of the 230 talented, passionate people who work for our group that I must ensure we are doing everything we can so that they can do what they do, an amazing honour. I can’t be a leader to the team if I myself am lost in a fog of mental funk. So why do I ride? There are so many reasons; I am a very fortunate person in every aspect of my life. Certainly, it’s not the life I thought I’d grow up to live, yet I wouldn’t change it for anything. Simply stated: to be a healthier person, both up and downstairs.