An honest and open explanation of why I do what I do…..
I’ve recently passed a milestone, my career in hospitality has just clocked over into its tenth year. It’s been a fulfilling journey so far, on both personal and professional levels, obviously it hasn’t all been smooth sailing, the trials and tribulations along the way have shaped the person I have become and the way I view and respond to the world. I often get asked why I still do what I do, what drives me, what motivates me, what inspires me to continuing to do what I do, why I continue to navigate a minefield of drug and alcohol addiction, sleepless nights, strained and failed friendships and relationships to work long hours in stressful and tough environments so you, my guests, may have a great night.
This is my honest and open explanation, this is of course my personal reflection and ramblings. I feel, in this industry potentially more than any other, everyone has their own story:
I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked in some amazing venues along side some truly incredible, inspirational, creative and dedicated individuals who have pushed me not only to work hard, but have also helped me develop my foundations in terms of the way I think about food and drink and the creative processes behind them. I will forever be indebted to these individuals, they have shaped not only my professional career but also the way I live, and in essence, enjoy life. They have ignited within me a want, a desire, a need to taste, indulge and experience as many flavours as possible. My palate is an addict, forever searching for its next hit, it’s next new experience, it’s next culinary epiphany. This is why I do what I do.
In a truly global industry I’ve been given the opportunity to travel not only regularly on a domestic basis but also lucky enough to venture into the big wide world and experience the cultural diversity of our wonderful planet and its people. From eating whale in Norway, to Century Eggs in Singapore to Gumbo in New Orleans, from drinking Genever in Amsterdam to Soju in Seoul to cocktails in New York and London, I’ve been fortunate enough to explore the cultural significance of food and drink globally.
It intrigues me, fascinates me, the way that cultural cuisine and beverages can, with one sip or mouthful, allow you to taste hundreds of years of history, the identity of a place, of a culture, of a society. I want to continue to have these moments. This is why I do what I do.
I’m sick of missing birthdays, weddings and any special occasions. When I started in hospitality it was remarkably hard to maintain existing friendships and relationships, my day was different, my time was different, it’s almost as though I got up rooted from my existence and placed in a whole new world, where I spent less and less time with school friends and more and more time with people who worked similar jobs to mine because, frankly, our timing was more synchronised. This meant late night knock offs after work, and many mornings raising a glass to the sun as it rose and shattered the darkness of night. Before long the bulk of your friendship circles are made up hospitality workers.
This is not by any means a negative thing, all of my best friends I’ve met through hospitality and they are amazing people who I love dearly, but it does to some degree ostracise you. To some degree you’re almost conditioned to be on the outskirts of general social interactions- “No I can’t go to breakfast with you, I would have just gone to sleep. No I can’t take the weekend off for your party, I have to work” ….. Combine this with the drug use and alcohol abuse that is rampant in our industry and it’s no wonder so many of our friends struggle with mental illness and addiction issues. Honestly I’ve had my battles, with the bottle, with substances, with myself, with others, I’ve lost people due to the lifestyle I have built myself around my work. It’s really hard to find balance between work and social life, what social connections are you willing to let go of for the good of your work? What level of commitment to work are you willing to give up for certain people or social connections? I haven’t got the balance right, even after a decade I’m still trying to find it, to be honest I’ve never had it. But it’s something I am working on, something I’ll continue to strive for.
I continue to do what I do for the connections, the personal connections I’ve made with people within the Industry and the professional connections we make with guests on a nightly basis. I do it for the buzz and excitement of service, for an hour or so I get to be part of your life, your fun, you’re enjoyment, I get to invite you to experience a little bit of my personality, a little bit of myself. Through service we strangers become friends, if only for fleeting moments. This is why I do what I do.
So next time you’re at the bar, pull up a stool, have a drink, a yarn and let me share some of your time, as I will always give you all of mine.
This is why I do what I do.