There are several well-established outlets for chefs and other restaurant workers who need to deal with the crushing stress and demanding hours of their jobs: Alcohol and illegal drugs are big. So are screaming fits, or simply walking off the job in the middle of service. Those are the clichés, anyway, and they aren’t exactly healthy or sustainable methods for coping. Now, though, a growing number of people working within the industry say it’s time to pay attention to this problem and give workers access to programs that actually promote mental and physical wellness.
The exact circumstances surrounding the sudden death of acclaimed chef Benoît Violier, thought to be a suicide, remain unclear, but his passing has nevertheless put renewed focus on the stress that people in the hospitality industry must face in order to do their jobs, as well as the toll it takes. Violier’s death follows several other high-profile suicides, including that of Chicago chef Homaro Cantu, who died last year, or even Bernardi Loiseau, who took his own life in 2003. Just this week, the Times published a story with the headline “Top Chef’s Death Shines Light on a High-Pressure World.”
Beyond suicide, it’s common for even the most prominent figures in the industry to talk openly about the way stress affects them.