'I am in charge of my own life, however there was a point where I recognised something was in charge of me'

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor

Addiction problems aren't  exclusive to hospitality, but many in the industry do find themselves confronted with them.

In a video shot for charitable organisation Hospitality Action, chefs Phil Howard and Tom Kerridge open up about their experiences to raise awareness of the risks hospitality professionals face.  

Whether because of the long hours, the stress, or even peer pressure, hospitality professionals, they explain, should beware of relying on substances or habits - legal or illegal - to keep going. 

Phil Howard - who worked at Harvey's under Marco Pierre WhiteBibendum under Simon Hopkinson, earned two stars during his tenure at The Square and subsequently co-founded Michelin-starred restaurants Elystan Street and Kitchen W8 - suffered from an addiction to crack cocaine which threatened to take away the success he fought hard to achieve. 

"I've become very aware of how important it is to try and address those issues before they become a problem," he said. 

"I think it's fair to say that the hospitality industry is a work hard play hard environment and it's so important that you keep an eye out for yourself and for your colleagues," listing not just drugs and alcohol but gambling and energy drinks as potential dangers. 

"The reality is, if you don't address them, the cost can be severe - job, and even possibly life." he added.

For Tom Kerridge, chef and owner of The Hand and Flowers, The Coach, Kerridge's Bar and Grill and Manchester's The Bull and Bear, it was alcohol. 

"That work hard play hard ethic for me was that chef model that I thought was rock'n'roll was something that really got a grip.

"It would start with a beer, maybe a pint of negroni, and the volume became huge. 

"There came a point where I recognised that I had an issue - I drove around in the car with a case of beer and a bottle of gin just in case somewhere I was at that evening I wouldn't be able to get a drink. 

"I run restaurants, I run Michelin star kitchens, I have Michelin stars myself, I have teams of people. I am in charge of my own life and my own destiny, however there was a point where I recognised something was in charge of me.

"And that was when I realised that I needed to make a change.

Both chefs' experiences show that no-one is impervious to risk - and that it is possible to turn one's life around. 

"Hospitality is a truly great profession," Phil said, "I've had the most wonderful, fulfilling time. But beware, life is a challenge, and this industry in particular has some real pitfalls when it comes to making the right decisions." 

If one's habits seem to be getting out of hand, he advised, "talk to somebody, talk to a friend, talk to a colleague, talk to a boss. Be open and be real. Otherwise the consequences could be serious." 

HA's Action Line is open 24 hours a day, if you have any questions or need to ask for help call 0808 802 0282.

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Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 4th August 2020

'I am in charge of my own life, however there was a point where I recognised something was in charge of me'