Mental health is still a sort of taboo topic in this country, especially when it comes to the restaurant industry. But the reality is that depression doesn’t discriminate and affects chefs around the world. Just this year, the industry is starting to address the issue head on with people like Tasting Table editor-at-large Kat Kinsman launching Chefs With Issues, a project dedicated to destigmatizing mental illness in the culinary industry and helping those affected by it get the help they otherwise can't (or won't).
Now joining the discussion is Chris Cosentino, chef/owner of Cockscomb here in San Francisco, though perhaps most known for winning "Top Chef Masters" in 2012. Cosentino opened up in a ChefsFeed video about his struggles with depression and anxiety, and how it has affected his work and perception in the industry. Here are some of the most poignant quotes from the video, which you can watch in full below.
- "It’s bigger than just, ‘Chris is a dick.’ I don’t do drugs. I’m not a super heavy drinker. It was a straight up chemical imbalance. Shit just got pear-shaped in my brain."
- "I still had to push through. It’s what I was taught. If you get burned, you wrap it up, you keep going. If you get cut, you superglue it, you keep going. With this, it’s something totally new and it's not physical; I can’t see it. I was functioning just poorly and not clearly."
- "Once I recognized it, I was able to address it. Once I got a balance, I felt like a very different person. It really hurt to realize that's the way I was behaving."
- "I called some people just to kind of communicate what was going on. Some people heard me, some people didn't want to hear me. Nobody wants to admit they have anxiety or they have depression."
- "I am who I am. I’m very passionate what I do. I’m still the same obnoxious pain-in-the-ass. But I’m not crazy. Coming out of this, I feel like it's more of a rebirth of me inside myself. I can see the positive around me. I can really focus on the things that are good."