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Gordon Ramsay demands drugs tests


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I can see arguing that smoking will affect your palate (though god knows how great French food ever came to be in that case). But I can't see how, for example, something like Demerol would. Or how adrenal analogues (stimulants of sorts) would be more likely to have an affect than adrenalin itself.

fanatic...

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The only way to relate is to have experienced working with someone under the influence, or been under the influence youself while trying to season food. The adrenaline theory is a bit close minded but also mininterpreted. Of course natural biological functions arent even in the same ballpark as drug abuse. Theyre not even on the same planet. Theyre polar opposites.

Just step into a kitchen with 7 chefs all wacked out on uppers and tell me if that environment is morally, legally or GASTRONOMICALLY acceptable?

Edited by inventolux (log)

Future Food - our new television show airing 3/30 @ 9pm cst:

http://planetgreen.discovery.com/tv/future-food/

Hope you enjoy the show! Homaro Cantu

Chef/Owner of Moto Restaurant

www.motorestaurant.com

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How can one possibly argue with skewed logic such as bullshit?

Invento...I like you dude. But quoting some Brillat Savarin for this modern quandry is like masturbating with a condom on to me. Bullshit's a word, not skewed logic. I find fault with the intellectualizations not the sentiment. When I smoked weed I made my best food.

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Yeah because you had the munchies. Good point spence. I still hate drugs. And apparently you still love them, or do you?

Edited by inventolux (log)

Future Food - our new television show airing 3/30 @ 9pm cst:

http://planetgreen.discovery.com/tv/future-food/

Hope you enjoy the show! Homaro Cantu

Chef/Owner of Moto Restaurant

www.motorestaurant.com

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The naive are congregating around some intellectual stance against drugs in the kitchen, and I for one would like to slice a piece of my mind off for your utter disgust.  Please fill us with your disposable wisdoms and then step back from yourself and realize that you haven't a clue what you're talking about.  Like when I ramble endlessly about pine, not knowing whether it really adds to the food, you anti drug SS are potentially way off base.  Yeah, if you're shooting heroin in the lockeroom before a shift I agree, it's time for rehab and a sabbatical in the professional institution of your counselors choosing.  But, if you like to go out back behind the dumpster between seatings to see what you're garde manger's got that so much better than yours before you go back in to knock another 230 covers out then goddamn, that makes you family in my book.  I find it highly hypocritical for cooks/waiters/chefs to look down their noses at people who have figured out the right combination to the frustration lock.

You sound like the producer manager I knew who basically said he wouldn't interfere with a client if he knew that client had a drug problem because "he might screw up the chemistry" the guy had in making hit records.

That "client" was in and out of rehab 3 or 4 times before he finally gave up the blow and alcohol for what looks like for good.

I don't care whether someone is snorting or shooting the GNP of Peru or Mexico, as long as he or she is not fucking up, ruining product, and making me hip to it.

As Malachi posted above, yes, this profession attracts a certain kind of person, and I'm one of them. I'm by no means a saint, I've done pretty much everything under the sun, and thank god I've never gotten hung up on any of them. Alcohol was a near miss, something I grew to keep my eye on, as to my using it, and I've wrestled with a few other things as well, that weren't of my own choosing.

I'm not looking down my nose at anyone, guy.

I just get tired of all the poseurs who think they found the combination to the frustration lock, only to find themselves locked out.

And who come into work the next day, dragging their sorry asses around, not worth crap.

And that bit about "out back behind the dumpster" is cool, man. Are YOU going to be out back behind there when you're 45?

2317/5000

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Invento - You're confusing a moral stance with artistic professionalism.

If you're honest with yourself, you'll see that this is the case.

There is nothing wrong with being morally opposed to drugs, and nothing wrong with insisting that those who work for you don't use drugs. But don't lie to yourself about your reasons.

Edited by malachi (log)

fanatic...

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When I smoked weed I made my best food.

Jesus, you're so predictable...

So now, presuming you don't smoke weed anymore, you suck???

Is that why you're a writer now?

2317/5000

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The naive are congregating around some intellectual stance against drugs in the kitchen, and I for one would like to slice a piece of my mind off for your utter disgust.  Please fill us with your disposable wisdoms and then step back from yourself and realize that you haven't a clue what you're talking about.  Like when I ramble endlessly about pine, not knowing whether it really adds to the food, you anti drug SS are potentially way off base.  Yeah, if you're shooting heroin in the lockeroom before a shift I agree, it's time for rehab and a sabbatical in the professional institution of your counselors choosing.  But, if you like to go out back behind the dumpster between seatings to see what you're garde manger's got that so much better than yours before you go back in to knock another 230 covers out then goddamn, that makes you family in my book.  I find it highly hypocritical for cooks/waiters/chefs to look down their noses at people who have figured out the right combination to the frustration lock.

You sound like the producer manager I knew who basically said he wouldn't interfere with a client if he knew that client had a drug problem because "he might screw up the chemistry" the guy had in making hit records.

That "client" was in and out of rehab 3 or 4 times before he finally gave up the blow and alcohol for what looks like for good.

I don't care whether someone is snorting or shooting the GNP of Peru or Mexico, as long as he or she is not fucking up, ruining product, and making me hip to it.

As Malachi posted above, yes, this profession attracts a certain kind of person, and I'm one of them. I'm by no means a saint, I've done pretty much everything under the sun, and thank god I've never gotten hung up on any of them. Alcohol was a near miss, something I grew to keep my eye on, as to my using it, and I've wrestled with a few other things as well, that weren't of my own choosing.

I'm not looking down my nose at anyone, guy.

I just get tired of all the poseurs who think they found the combination to the frustration lock, only to find themselves locked out.

And who come into work the next day, dragging their sorry asses around, not worth crap.

And that bit about "out back behind the dumpster" is cool, man. Are YOU going to be out back behind there when you're 45?

Except I'm the guy making the hit records. I'm stable, with beautiful children who worship the ground I walk on, a corporate gig with job offers emailed to me like spam, respect from my staff , and...a nice Scooby bong sitting behind the apples on my fridge. Smoking weed doesn't mean missing work, cooking shit food, underseasoning because of smoker's palate, and job hopping. I've found the balance. My problems stem from hubris, not weed. You guys/gals that think smoking weed is kin to waking up in a strange bed with a tawdry whore are kiddin' yourselves.

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Malachi,

We are products of our environments. My environment provides countless examples of chefs who do drugs, wind up striving for mediocre experiences for their patrons. Perhaps yours is different?

I dont rule out anything.

However, in order to take a stance on drug usage, one is either opposed, or for it, its rarely a non-issue. So a miniscule line is drawn. In most kitchens where I have seen drug usage tolerated, it was almost always used irresponsibly by someone. So what does the chef do if he isnt already a part of it? Loses respect or feels left out.

Its like the taliban fighting the russian invasion spinning out on speed the entire time. After the dust settled, 70 percent of the worlds heroin was being produced in Afghanistan. Drug abusers rarely are happy with the occasional bump. Especially in high stress (restaurant) situations that will eventually lodge them into self destructive patterns and eventually bring others with them.

Yes my point is a moral stance. And yes many great artists were drug users, but I wont be leading any of those "artists".

Artists are some of the most religious personalities I know, and I respect them for it.

Edited by inventolux (log)

Future Food - our new television show airing 3/30 @ 9pm cst:

http://planetgreen.discovery.com/tv/future-food/

Hope you enjoy the show! Homaro Cantu

Chef/Owner of Moto Restaurant

www.motorestaurant.com

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How can one possibly argue with skewed logic such as bullshit?

Invento...I like you dude. But quoting some Brillat Savarin for this modern quandry is like masturbating with a condom on to me. Bullshit's a word, not skewed logic. I find fault with the intellectualizations not the sentiment. When I smoked weed I made my best food.

Lemme get this straight, Spencer. You feel like now that you don't smoke weed, you simply can't duplicate the former quality of your work? Yeah, I know. Like, you no longer smoke weed? :wacko:

I'm a musician, and I teach my students about Berlioz' Symphonie fantastique, which is based on an opium dream the composer had. But you know what? He wrote it as a memory of the dream, not while he was tripping. Charlie Parker was a junkie and a great musician, but the junk killed him at the age of 43. I do think that pot is less malignant or more benign (however you want to think about it) than various other drugs (including alcohol, in the hands of an alcoholic - with Mussorgsky and Wilhelm Friedemann Bach as prime examples of great composers whose career were thus stunted), but though the misjudgement of someone who's high may be less severe than that of a drunk, you will have trouble convincing me that you are able to isolate a comparison of the quality of your work when you are high as opposed to straight from the affect of the drug on your psyche. People have had brilliant insights while high, but they've also had dull-witted thoughts that seemed brilliant at the time - like wow. :raz:

Edited by Pan (log)

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Chef Spencer said:

Smoking weed doesn't mean missing work, cooking shit food, underseasoning because of smoker's palate, and job hopping.  I've found the balance.  My problems stem from hubris, not weed.  You guys/gals that think smoking weed is kin to waking up in a strange bed with a tawdry whore are kiddin' yourselves.

Wow! The plot, like the sauce, thickens.........

Mark

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Chef Spencer said:
Smoking weed doesn't mean missing work, cooking shit food, underseasoning because of smoker's palate, and job hopping.  I've found the balance.  My problems stem from hubris, not weed.  You guys/gals that think smoking weed is kin to waking up in a strange bed with a tawdry whore are kiddin' yourselves.

Wow! The plot, like the sauce, thickens.........

I can agree with you here spence, there are extremes to every situation. I suppose my stance is just the opposite of yours. I have worked with individuals that were "casual" users. However I havent seen those people in any of the top tier fine dining establishments because it is too difficult to maintain any sense of a "balanced drug habit" while your boss is watching your every move to observe every detail of every second of every day.

Edited by inventolux (log)

Future Food - our new television show airing 3/30 @ 9pm cst:

http://planetgreen.discovery.com/tv/future-food/

Hope you enjoy the show! Homaro Cantu

Chef/Owner of Moto Restaurant

www.motorestaurant.com

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You guys/gals that think smoking weed is kin to waking up in a strange bed with a tawdry whore are kiddin' yourselves.

Can we nip this in the bud, no pun intended?

I don't think Ramsey is talking about weed.

Neither am I, except when I see some fool light up a one shot on the line.

I don't think Ramsey is going to throw out some shit hot cook because he or she tests positive for smoke, although they're his Michelin stars, to protect as he sees fit.He's obviously shaken up by the death of a guy he respected, maybe loved as a person, and perhaps he feels guilty because he rationalized just about ANY kind of drug use by an employee like the way you and a lot of others here are and will do.

'Nuff said, I'm out.

2317/5000

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Great point.

I feel If ramsey were serious, it would never have become mass media content. How many records has P Diddy sold since Biggies death????

Edited by inventolux (log)

Future Food - our new television show airing 3/30 @ 9pm cst:

http://planetgreen.discovery.com/tv/future-food/

Hope you enjoy the show! Homaro Cantu

Chef/Owner of Moto Restaurant

www.motorestaurant.com

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2) I want to see one of you people who are clucking about the evils of drugs and the weaknesses of those doing drugs in the kitchen without having experienced it try and live the life for even just a few months.

It's not about drugs in the kitchen per se. It's about drugs in the workplace generally. If its allright for people in stressful jobs to be drinking/drugging in the workplace then is it OK for teachers to be doing it in inner city schools before going in to teach your stressful bratty kids? Is it OK for doctors to be drunk or high while having to pretend to be interested in listening to your depression or your varicose veins? Is it OK for social workers to be smashed before deciding to take your children away because you're an abuser? Is it OK for cabbies stressed out by inner city traffic to be swigging gin while driving you around?

Need I go on? This stressful job argument just doesn't run. Not that cheffing is not a stressful job, but the notion that a stressful job somehow justifies the regular use of mind altering substances in the workplace is pure nonsense.

And if you're an employer who knows it was going on and allowing it I'd be very careful if I were you. Not only do you have a "duty of care" towards your employee, which includes ensuring their health and fitness to work, but also one accident in your kitchen/restaurant and the victim could show that it was caused by a drunk/high employee and that you knew about it and did nothing and you wouldn't have a f---ing leg to stand on in any claim of negligence against you. It could then be bye bye belly up restaurant and then you might have nothing else to do BUT get smashed.

Edited by Tonyfinch (log)
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It's not about drugs in the kitchen per se. It's about drugs in the workplace generally. If its allright for people in stressful jobs to be drinking/drugging in the workplace then is it OK for teachers to be doing it in inner city schools before going in to teach your stressful bratty kids? Is it OK for doctors to be drunk or high while having to pretend to be interested in listening to your depression or your varicose veins? Is it OK for social workers to be smashed before deciding to take your children away because you're an abuser? Is it OK for cabbies stressed out by inner city traffic to be swigging gin while driving you around?

.

Apples to oranges. If the cook who's cooking my food has just puffed tuff I'm not going to feel the same way I'd feel if my surgeon did right before an op. There's a little more breathing room in the cooking profession. What I continually have problems with are the crackheads. Crack undoubtedly has no place in the kitchen. Fire, knives, rock cocaine?

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First off: We don't know the toxicology on Dempsey yet. So it's way too early to be drawing comfortable lessons or moral from this story. If there WERE drugs in his sytem, we still know next to nothing: Was it a one-off--a one time binge--and on what? Drink dosed with roofies? What recreational drug would inspire that kind of abberant, uncharacteristic behavior? PCP? An acid-speed combo? Crack and alcohol? I have a hard time picturing anyone with a chronic coke, alcohol or depressant problem rising to the top in a Ramsay organization. Ramsay is notoriously anti-drug, not well-inclined to them at all as he had a brother with big problems in that area. A real family tragedy by all accounts. GR used to attend group with him--so he's seen. He knows.

But lets assume the worst. For the purposes of discussion. That the poor guy (Dempsey) , under the added pressure of a new job, as yet undescribed results of new cancer tests after some complaints (he had already endured/ survived treatment, yes?) and whatever else was eating him--bugged out. On something.( Add personal crisis--at least-- to the mix if you like). What, really, could he have done? It's not like he doesn't pay attention. Sometimes it's just impossible to truly know another. You can't always look--and see--what's in the hearts of our friends and the people we care about. We can't--alone--through policy--change them fundamentally.

While I understand Ramsay's feelings of outrage, sadness, grief, betrayal, I think the general call for drug testing that comes with these incidents is wrong. Mandatory testing? No way.

On the other hand, I also think that if you're STLL doing cocaine (as so many Brits I know still--inexplicably do) you will inevitably disappoint your coworkers, your masters, your customers. Cocaine is a bad drug--far worse--and far more annoying--and far more destructive in the short run--than heroin. You simply can't make a pro-cocaine argument. It destroys chefs and cooks. Every day. We all see it. We all know it. It's old news.

That being said, there is--as in Malachi's example--one cook in my experience, who no matter what I did, no matter what I threatened--continuously scarfed any and all coke he could lay his hands on. He did it after work. He did it, I am sure, during work. And remarkably, it has not YET impaired his ability to cook the line. He was always the best cook in my kitchen. BUT, he was also the most likely to not show up twice a year--usually with a bullshit story.And his behavior required constant vigilence--as he was, to say the least, a bad influence Chefs are indeed faced with hard, triage-like decisions all the time. Fire the cokehead? Or endure his bullshit out of practical necessity, personal loyalty, genuine affection. Not always an easy call. Especially as we have all-in this busines--had our vices. This is the kind of hard decision chefs make every day--and I'm not going to get moralistic about that. On balance, it often pays, feels better, is the smarter move to stick with the cokehead (while keeping a close eye). Not a moral stance--but a practical one. Made complicated when its an old friend and protege. There's a big grey area there. You know it when you see it.

Why no drug testing? Because the last thing we need now is to yet again demand that Big Brother take care of our problems. Already people point the finger, demanding unions, better working conditions, testing. Save us from ourselves!! Nonsense. Cooks and restaurant people take drugs because they choose to take drugs--and because they're THERE, always on the perimeter, and lots of free alcohol too. While restaurant people, because of previous disposition, because of the nature and pace of the work, the hours, the pressure, the social mores (such as they are) might be more prone to doing drugs, they are just as capable of making hard decisions about their own drug use. Cooks looking to rise up know this:

Weed makes you slow and stupid and indecisive in the kitchen. (Which is why I only smoked weed after work the last ten years of my career)

Cocaine makes you sweaty, jumpy, short-attention spanned, and likely to need numerous bathroom breaks. It eventually makes you psychotic, schizo, paranoid and utterly worthless as a cook or as a human.

Heroin is just fine for work. At first. Until you don't have any one day--and you find yourself, aching, cold, shitting like a mink and too sore to move. It's also embarrassing when you nod out mid-shift. Plus you're spending every free moment looking for heroin--or money.

Speed. Speed had a bad reputation even in Frisco in the 60's for Chrissakes. Everybody knows it turns you into a chronic liar--and for some reason--a kleptomaniac. (all the rich girl speed freaks I knew loved to shoplift and scam--dunno why). Nothing like a cook, with knives, tweaking on speed--or crashing after a long jag. They don't last.

Acid, X, Special K..Who can cook well on that shit? Noone.

Anyone who wants to make it to the top--and stay there, knows they can't regularly do any of the above and not screw up, get caught out, get a reputation. Yes--I know truly great speed freak and cokehead chefs---but they always fuck up. They don't last. They burn out. They always mess up the business end. And everybody--very quickly knows all about their predilections. The reputation hangs with. Forever.

It's a personal decision, though. To do drugs--or to get off them. Noone can decide for you. It is your fault--and noone else's should you find yourself, addicted, fired, arrested, overdosed, broke or homeless because of them. A repressive policy of drug testing is humiliating to an already beaten down tribe. What? You're going to make your cooks piss in a cup once a week? You're going to WATCH THEM DO IT? (As there will immediately be a black market in clean urine--my friends always paid the born-again waiter for a few cc). Where does it end? There has to be trust. You TRUST your cooks. Even if you KNOW that once in a while, one of them will falter or betray.

While you can immediately fire anyone (thank God for no unions) who shows signs of continued and incorrigable drug use which is affecting their health and their work--or pack them off to rehab, there is no way to prevent a weekend crackhead from beaming up after work. And there shouldn't be.

Noone MADE me a crackhead and a heroin addict. Not the Columbians..not the govenment, not the work, not my upbringing, my parents, the capitalist system, the stress, or anything else. I became a junkie because I WANTED TO. I never said, "Gee! Heroin's addictive? Who knew?" or " Wow! This crack makes me suddenly want MORE! Who woulda thought!?" A negative piss test would have made me sneakier--perhaps made me seek employment elsewhere. I LIKED being a junkie--most of the time. I felt like an elite. I had purpose in my life. Drugs, after all--tend to FEEL GOOD. That's why people do them. And continue doing them. Until they don't feel so good anymore. Which is what it comes down to. Each individual making an informed choice about what they want to do. If they're still doing smack at age 30--and still have things they want to do with their lives, it's decision time.If they want to work in a three star kitchen, they risk everything by taking drugs. It's a close-knit community, built on respect. At the very least, if your cooks and commis know you're a cokehead, they won't respect you. If caught you can be fired and blackballed from other kitchens. It's a constant cost vs. benefit analysis--for employers --and for druggies. But in the end it's up to the individual drug user.

The best thing a chef can do is state a firm policy (understanding that they will very likely bend it on occasion). Enforce it publicly and ruthlessly when needed. If a much-loved, much needed worker shows signs of ignoring the edict? A quiet talk. "I know what you're doing. I KNOW.Other, independent sources tell me. So don't lie. In fact. Don't say anything. You'll insult me. Just listen. I'm watching you. I am in your shit. I am going to stay in your shit. Every day. Every hour. If you even look like you're high..if you look like you were high the night before. If I see you so much as sniffle. If I see your pupils any smaller than fucking saucers. If I hear a rumor..from a total stranger. If I suspect. You're out. Forever. I don't care if you're woofing gas and glue all day on your day off (well..I care--but I can't do anything about it). But if you are anything less than Johnny On The Fucking Spot during working hours I will cheerfully cut your throat. And I will tell every chef, every cook, every owner, every fucking busboy in this town that you are an unreliable, degenerate druggie fuck. You want a week or two off to think about this? Need counselling? Rehab? I'm sure we can hook you up--no fault, no foul (if you're worth it) It's decision time, asshole. Go home. Look in the mirror. Ask yourself do I want to work here. Let me know what your decision is. Now get out of my sight."

Nobody's less tolerant than an ex junkie.

Edited by bourdain (log)

abourdain

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Yeah. Funny that. Let's face it. Alcoholism is entirely acceptable--even expected in the business. And there's no onus at all. As long as you can work. Is it sheer hypocricy to accept one and not the other?

No. It's pure inductive reasoning (and something of a tradition):

Drugs, in our experience, grind cooks down. They change them. They transform them into people who are UNCONTROLLABLE.

Working alcoholics are , arguably, controllable. And alcohol can even be a method of control. (Shift drinks...reward drinks...let's-go-out-and'get-shitfaced-cause-we're-the'best celebratory drinks etc.)

Does that make a chef who rewards his young charges with a round of drinks any less culpable than say...the cruel overlords in Myanmar who pay their Jadite miners with heroin?Maybe. Maybe not. Like I said earlier. Grey areas. Lots of em.

Pint?

abourdain

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I'd rather employ crack baby rhesus monkeys than alcoholics--not to dispute Zen master Tony. Having been close to the edge of alcoholic madness myself, and having watched my mother bleed out before my eyes from cirrohsis, and having to deal with drunk fuckers for years on end has shaded my perspective. Yeah, I still toss the occasional brewsky at my boys for job well done but under no circumstances will I allow a cook to come to work drunk or on his/her way. Totally hypocritcal, I know, since I got on a soap box about pot (grey area), but I know from first hand experience that nothing good can come out of alcohol when you're cooking. I tell tales in my writings about drinking the William Wycliff box o wine, making spritzers on the line, about removing the prep from a low boy to make room for a pickle bucket full of margarita because I need to get that shit out of my system, write about it, use it as hindsight therapy, so I can embrace the killer situation I'm in now (that I all too often take for granted). I wasn't capable of creating the kind of food I can now. I was stuck in macadamia crusted mahi-mahi hell, pork nachos, short rib chili cheese burgers with basil ketchup. Alcohol is second only to coke in my opinion--heroin has never played into my scene thank god. In the restaurant world it's a highly acceptable rite of passage, but that doesn't make it any less of a killer.

God I'm hungover.

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And that bit about "out back behind the dumpster" is cool, man. Are YOU going to be out back behind there when you're 45?

I know plenty of straight chefs who did not make it till 45, the sheer physical demands of working the line tend to wreak hell on feet, legs, backs and wrists. Those that are not able to redirect their efforts to a less rigorous employ face a less than rosy situation. I'll bet Tony B. does not regret refining his writing abilities.

=Mark

Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

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I'm not a drug or alchol abuser. I'm way too closely related to these problems to seriously play with them myself. You can laugh at me commenting on this topic if you want, but if you walked in my shoes you'd understand why I avoid both. They created alernon (or however you spell it) for all of us whom live with users. We understand the drugs and pay daily for everyone else using.

After reading this thread I have to add that Bourdains posts rang true. There's some crap that some attempted to pass on this thread.

You want to find grey areas too Bourdain, but you know in your mind that your holding on to them as grey areas when you know they really aren't. I appreciate your words, I see alot of truth in them. I hope one day I'll read even less grey area in your opinions on this topic.

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Keith Hernandez and Lawrence Taylor won MVPs while on coke.  You (whoever is reading this) are not Keith Hernandez or Larence Taylor.

And who are they?

=Mark

Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

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