Are professional chefs and cooks 'Damaged/Tortured souls' ?

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I know it's a really random topic but a fair share of chefs (who are famous and I know and work and learn from) have their own little tale of woe (eg: Marco Pierre White; once 3 Michelin starred chef but his mother died when he was 6 years old, Gordon Ramsay; his brother was a heroin addict and his dad was an alcoholic., Rick Stein; his dad suffered Bipolar Disorder and alas, commited suicide when Rick was only 13 or 14), A. Cooke (a cookery teacher, a person I highly respect) had no qualifications when he finished school.

It seems some of the chefs I hold with such high reguard have their little tale of woe and I was wondering if you are as such one of the 'damaged' or 'tortured souls'.. if so. What drives you to cook the food that you do? Who is/was your influences? Who are you trying to impress?

I don't mean this all in a bad way, I just am interested in how the mindset of a chef or cook works.

Myself? My 'tale of woe' is my mother suffers Bipolar Disorder and my father got sent to court accused of child molestering before I was born but since they split up my mother and been with various druggies and alcoholics so I could say i'm a bit of a 'damaged soul' but what drives me is knowing: my mother and her telling me from day 1 to eat organically or if not then grow your own vegetables and not supermarket yuck, my grandmother running and owning her own café when I was 11 or 12 and working in there and my holiday to Greece when I was 8 years old and the sight of the food, the smell, the colours, the joy it brought people, the romance of dining out and the simple fact I get to try, create and experience some of the best food and drink all over the world that so few (unless rich) have the pleasure of trying yet alone touching.

Your responses I await,

-Josh Richardson .. potentionally soon "J. Pierre Richardson".
 
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I think as people we all have tales of woe so to speak. 

My mother in law was a young girl in WW2 Holland and the cafe her family ran was taken over by the Nazis.  She had to serve them and accept being treated like a dog by them.  She met her first husband during the war and they married shortly after but she stayed in Holland to help her stepmom (her own mom died in childbirth with her fifth child) with the new baby.  Little did she know at the time she was expecting her first son.  She was sick as a dog all the way here (to Canada by boat) and she thought it was seasickness but well it turned out to be a baby.  She had four children with her first husband and when she was expecting their fifth, he was killed in a freak barn accident.  She put an ad in the Dutch paper for a husband and father and my father in law replied.  They wrote letters and I am not sure she loved him at first but she married him and they had thirty four years together.  My mother in law catered weddings and parties back when the kids were young and to this day she loves putting out a spread.  
 
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Cooking is and always has been a cult of pain. Anyone who has been in this business really knows.....we love it that way

We hate the heat ,the pressure,  the long hours, the fast pace, never ending demands, the pain.....

We love it for the same reasons.....

Yes we are a different breed
 
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Saw Rick Stein on a show about Autism done  by Steven Fry - they both are autistic but wouldn't be without it.  Gives them a different vision of how things are.  As Steven Fry is also manic-depressive, he tried treatment for it, but  missed the highs so much, he pretty much went off them.   He's obviously not a cook but an actor and comedian - one I really admire and enjoy.

There's always been a very thin line between madness and genius, in any walks of life  (I put this in a separate paragraph so as not to imply that autism is madness)

Pro kitchens sound like a version of Hades.  I had a brief stint once - could smell and see the fire and I had to clean the brimstone (the hotplate).

  Hmm pain that gives pleasure - there's a word for that..../img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif
 
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My dad was a biker and a vietnam vet. My mom is asocial crazy. I hate corporate America and feel they have caused most of the issues we live with today.  Food is the purest thing in my life and a kitchen is just about the only place I feel at home when I am not. Now give me my cookie or I'll snap your little neck./img/vbsmilies/smilies/smoking.gif
 
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Do you suppose it's just another manifestation of the masochism that I suddenly feel the urge to taunt Gunnar with a cookie?
 
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Cooking is and always has been a cult of pain. Anyone who has been in this business really knows.....we love it that way

We hate the heat ,the pressure,  the long hours, the fast pace, never ending demands, the pain.....

We love it for the same reasons.....

Yes we are a different breed
 
Yep I gotta agree with you there, chefs are a different breed.. I feel now that the misfit, non-mainstream, perfectionist, pyromaniac, contradictory, "crazy" me will settle in just fine and feel at home with 'my people'.


Saw Rick Stein on a show about Autism done  by Steven Fry - they both are autistic but wouldn't be without it.  Gives them a different vision of how things are.  As Steven Fry is also manic-depressive, he tried treatment for it, but  missed the highs so much, he pretty much went off them.   He's obviously not a cook but an actor and comedian - one I really admire and enjoy.

There's always been a very thin line between madness and genius, in any walks of life  (I put this in a separate paragraph so as not to imply that autism is madness)

Pro kitchens sound like a version of Hades.  I had a brief stint once - could smell and see the fire and I had to clean the brimstone (the hotplate).

  Hmm pain that gives pleasure - there's a word for that..../img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif
Madness and genius are very closely related that is true, they do say that. Nice comparison to Hades.. maybe I am a man who is into the shadow side of life.


Masochism!! is that the word? what do i win?! 
 
Affirmative :D .. you win.. erm.. a bottle or pint of beer that is your typical tipple after work hahaha. That or the mystery box prize.

All in all I like what I read here and find it pretty darn interesting.
 Well, they say you've got to be crazy to want to be a chef and i've been called "crazy" all my current 18 years on this planet so now it's starting to pay off hahaha.


Do you suppose it's just another manifestation of the masochism that I suddenly feel the urge to taunt Gunnar with a cookie?
 
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Nope.

The only remarkable thing about my childhood was that it was un-remarkable.

Mind you a 5 year bout with "plantar fascitis" while working your own biz for 80 hr weeks is a bit tender, and working side by side with your wife for 14 years, then coming home and getting more of the same can get a tad stressfull, but nothing machoisitc....
 
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Do you suppose it's just another manifestation of the masochism that I suddenly feel the urge to taunt Gunnar with a cookie?
If you could find a pole long enough to dangle one on a string over Gunnars head....it's a long way up  but hey why not /img/vbsmilies/smilies/tongue.gif
 
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/img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif/img/vbsmilies/smilies/crazy.gif/img/vbsmilies/smilies/smoking.gifheh....cookie.......*snap*.....*crunch*....hmmm....cookie/img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif
 
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It's funny this topic has been posted. The other day a fairly regular customer came in and stayed with his associate long enough to be there. He started chatting with us while we were closing, which was a-ok as he was talking about good places to eat around the city. So of course the subject of great chefs in the city comes up and he says "You know what? Pretty much all the chefs I know are crazy to some extent or another. I think you have to be to work in a kitchen."
 
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