Cocaine is a problem 'in kitchens everywhere' says chef Tom Pymer

The Staff Canteen

Craft Guild of Chefs 2019 finalist Tom Pymer has opened up on the rampant nature of cocaine addiction in professional kitchens, which he says caused him to fall out with those closest to him and got him deep in debt.

The chef, who now works at The Magdalen Arms in Oxford, said he came close to taking his own life as he fought to overcome addiction, which has left him with lasting physical scars. 

Tom realised he had a problem shortly after he joined Le Manoir Aux Quat' Saisons in Oxfordshire as a commis chef. 

In an interview with Oxford Mail, he said: "I started at the restaurant in October 2016 and by January 2017 I tried to take my own life.

"I had got into a lot of debt and fallen out with my close friends and family.

"I had a cocaine addiction but it had been such a slow build up.

"It started off every weekend, just casually but because it's such a fast paced industry some people need a vice and it's too easy to get involved in when everybody else in the kitchen is doing it.

"It's happening all over kitchens everywhere."

The chef now wants to reach out to chefs in the same situation after seeking help from charity Turning Point, which he said 'saved his life.'

"It got too much and I asked for help."

"Nobody should be afraid to ask for help. Listen to people as well, I had everybody telling me to get help, it was a constant battle.

"Turning Point were amazing, the key worker literally changed my life.

"If you don't need to get rehab they can teach you things like moderation.

"I quit my job in January and after getting help was working full time again by the summer of that year. I've got a different job now working at the Magdalen Arms and I've been a finalist in the Craft Guild of Chefs 2019."

Though he has succeeded in turning his life around, the chef said he still lives with the physical effects of cocaine consumption. 

"I still have the consequences from taking the drug, I have nasal damage now." 

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 5th November 2019

Cocaine is a problem 'in kitchens everywhere' says chef Tom Pymer