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Chef concerned about alcohol in his own cooking

answered 09:00 PM EST, Tue September 06, 2011
I work as a chef. I have a drinking problem that I am trying to manage and I am going to AA meetings and this helps me somewhat, although I have had some slips back to drinking.
I work in a very intense and competitive kitchen and there is a waiting list a mile long to get in here. It can make a career to work here for a year or two. The problem is, as a chef here I am always cooking with wine and spirits and to do my job well I must taste what I cook. And every time I do I feel an almost irresistible urge to grab that bottle and start pounding.

I know that HR rules and stuff would probably make the head chef make some allowance for my problem, but the truth is if I say I can’t or won’t taste what I am cooking, no matter what the reason, I am done here and largely done in the business as a top tier chef.

I have worked too long and too hard to turn back now when the pay off looks to be near, but It’s also like I am walking on the edge of a cliff every night at work and I don’t know when I am going to fall off.

At AA they tell me I need to quit, but honestly, none of the people in my AA group have much in the way of careers, so I am not sure if taking job advice from this group of well meaning people is my best course of action.

What can I do to manage my professional requirements while minimizing the cravings that they induce in me?

Melissa Borlie Says...

Melissa Borlie M. Borlie

First, let me commend you on maintaining sobriety in a high stress environment. You are working toward your dreams! My main concern is that you feel no one in your AA group can relate to you or you to them. An AA group is the one place you can feel completely at home and it sounds like it's time to find a new one. You didn't mention whether you have a sponsor, but it is important to have a special someone to call when you feel like drinking. I have heard both sides of issue concerning whether alcohol "cooks out" in prepared dishes. I would recommend that you do what is necessary to maintain your career and then keep in close contact with your sponsor. Please understand that my recommendation is not a license to drink. If your drinking career resumes, you may not have a career as a chef. Best of luck to you as a top tier chef! 

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Page last updated Sep 07, 2011

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