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Five years ago, many were shocked by the news that Anthony Bourdain, famed chef, author, and TV personality, had died of suicide. Sadly, such tragic endings aren’t uncommon in the restaurant industry, where stress levels are high, hours are long, the pace is frenetic, and the pay is generally low. The result, as researchers have found, is a trade group unusually susceptible to drug and alcohol addiction and mental illness.
In honor of Bourdain and to raise awareness for mental illness and addiction in restaurants, a cadre of world- renowned chefs have declared June 25 Anthony Bourdain day. Dovetailing into that effort, local chef, barbecue pitmaster, and Four Pegs restaurant owner, Chris Williams, co-creators chefs Kahlil Kennedy, Eric Morris, and Lee Mayfieldis are hosting the third annual fundraiser dubbed A Taste for Life, on June 25, at the restaurant (1053 Goss Ave. in Germantown 40217). In 2022, this event featured chefs from 20 local restaurants preparing food for patrons eager to support this cause, and we plan to have more participants this year. Beneficiaries of proceeds from the event include the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Louisville, and the Pete Foundation.
“With A Taste for Life, we want to hammer home the point that working in the service industry is incredibly hard on those who make and serve our guests’ food,” said Williams. “Working long hours and nights in this business often keeps us away from our loved ones, family, and friends and that puts us at risk for mental illness, addiction, and suicide.” Williams added that many in the industry suffering from those challenges don’t know how to get help.
“Part of what we’re doing with A Taste for Life is highlighting the available resources for not only service industry employees, but everyone in need,” he said. “The proceeds we raise from this will help fund these causes.”
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