Culinary Drug Addicts


Alcohol, drugs, and cooking- All chefs do it. The one who doesn’t is either Cinderella or a socially awkward lunatic. In Kitchen ConfidentialAnthony Bourdain informs future chefs and food lovers about the realities of the culinary world. One of the main topics he covers throughout the novel is the excessive use of drugs in the culinary world. Anthony Bourdain stresses this to express chef’s ambition and curiosity that make them more likely to experiment with drugs than people in other careers.

In the second chapter of Kitchen Confidential, while exploring France, Anthony would spend his “first few weeks exploring underground passageways, looking for dead Nazis, playing miniature golf, sneaking cigarettes,” and whole bunch of other stuff the average child would never do. Anthony was also “largely unimpressed by the food” in France (Bourdain 10). This shows that Anthony possessed the right amount of ambition and curiosity that every good chef contains ever since he was a child. As Anthony began to mature and gain more culinary experiences, he began to experiment more with drugs such as crack, heroine, meth, Alcohol (of course), and marijuana. Although Anthony experiences may just be unfortunate and coincidental, he was not the only chef who experienced drug problems in the culinary world.

According to Jason Sheehan, who was also a professional chef, more than ninety-five percent of culinary employees regularly used drugs (Sheehan). Jason has worked in various types of culinary kitchens and has known a chef that has a huge drug addiction problem. Through his experiences, Jason has come up with the following realization:

“Chefs are just wired for drug use from the start. Being a cook or a chef means being in the pleasure business, after all; means being the sort of person who has a yen for experimentation and excess. You want to serve what’s good, first you must know what’s good. You’ve got to be willing to try anything once—a lesson that has a tendency to travel outside the confines of the kitchen.” (Sheehan)

Professional chef, John Higgins, argues that stress and ease of access is the reason why so many chefs are drug addicts (Kane). With the average chef working sixteen to seventeen hours a day seven days a week, stress can build up quickly. John Higgins also states that “sensitive and creative types are often attracted to the job of a culinary artist” (Kane). This statement is relatively agreeable with Jason Sheehan Statement about chef’s curiosity (Sheehan).
Bourdain, Sheehan, and Higgins would all agree every great chef has to have the right type of personality. Great chefs must be creative, curious, and ambitious. While these qualities make a phenomenal chef, it also creates prime targets for drugs. Without chef’s ambition and curiosity there would be no great chefs. However, without chef’s ambition and curiosity drug use in the culinary world would be unheard of. Unfortunately, every chef’s talent is also their weakness.

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