,*This is an excerpt of a discussion I had with a BBC reporter immediately after Anthony Bourdain passed away. I have extended this post because my site was down for a few days and I feel it is really worth reading and extending its emphasis.
"I have co-owned two restaurants in Canada.
More like they owned me.
What I found out about owning restaurants is that I was no good at owning restaurants.
The first restaurant we simply invested money. (Yep, I've yet to see a return on my investment. Total newbie F-up.)
The second restaurant, we were all in.
My partner and I were the investors. He hosted, dealt with paperwork, ordering as per the chef's instructions, upkeep, et al.
I hosted, designed menus, picked out the organic wine (I DID have some knowledge there) and hired the entertainment. Pretty basic stuff because I was a pretty basic restaurant owner.
Our partners were chefs and former restaurant owners. We entrusted them as the experts. (Another flippin' mistake, but that was because I didn't know enough to see the signs of a doomed partnership.)
I was a wet behind the ears, green, newbie, riding by the seat of my pants owner with what appeared to be money to burn (and burn it we did). I take full responsibility for my choices.
Our chef, who was immensely talented and a total what-you-see-is-what-you-get person, handed me a book one day.
I will never forget what he said to me:
"KaZ, if you want to know and understand me, and what goes on in a restaurant, you need to read this book."
He handed me "Kitchen Confidential" by Anthony Bourdain.
I said "Thank you?"
It's not that I wasn't up to being schooled by my chef, I just had NO idea what I had gotten myself into and he knew it.
It was the one of the kindest things ANYONE has ever done for me.
I read the book from cover to cover. Some chapters and paragraphs I read more than once or twice.
Some passages I just could NOT believe and some made complete sense to me.
After I "studied" the book it changed how I looked at my chef and at the restaurant business.
It helped me to look for the signs of theft of money and goods from the restaurant (there was both).
It helped me regard my chef as an artist, a humble but proud creator and a master of his art.
The book gave me insight into what I needed to do in the back and front of the house to insure my staff had what they needed.
I also learned the times to tighten the reins when things got out of hand.
Pointing out financial and operational issues did not make me popular with my staff or my partners, BUT it DID make me savvy.
Were any of my staff on drugs, stealing from me or f'ing off? You bet they were.
Were any of them busting their butts? You bet they were.
Was my chef an adept and more than capable craftsperson? YOU BET HE WAS.
Would I have recognized ANY of this without the book?
Probably, but it would have taken SO MUCH LONGER.
My son bussed tables at 8, 9 and 10 years old. He loved it. He loved being in the restaurant. The staff treated him like a valuable person, not just the owner's son.
His dream was to be a chef and as he pursued that dream Anthony was his hero and still is.
Why Anthony and not other notable chefs? I don't know, but I'll ask him.
We both cried when we heard of his death.
I owned a small bistro that was a blip on the world map, but it WAS a blip, nonetheless.
My point is that Anthony did more for me and my son than he will ever know."
If you or someone you know and love is suffering from mental health challenges, seek assistance.
National Suicide Prevention Line
Available 24 hours everyday
Crisis Text Line Text “home” to 741741
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Help Line: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
As always, thanks for reading!
See you next week.
Boy, this is the type of article I find exciting and difficult to write.
Exciting because I believe mental health is as important as physical health.
I am thrilled we are having these conversations, getting it out in the open, and releasing stigmas.
Difficult because it comes on the heels of the deaths, by suicide, of (in my book) two brilliant creators and artists. People who affected the lives of more individuals than they will ever know.
BUT we HAVE to have these conversations.
We have to look at the statistics.
We have to be informed and unafraid to talk about it.
Some of us have to reach deep inside and reveal some intimate truths about ourselves FOR ourselves and for others.
It takes a village to raise EVERYONE!!!
Feeling heard and knowing that we have options is crucial.
Let's start with: 1 in 4 people are dealing with mental health challenges.
Stand in a group of 4 people and one of them is suffering.
Or is it you?
The more we say "I deal with mental health issues" the more it becomes a part of HEALTH.
An accepted, acknowledged part of health.
Chemical imbalances and neurological deficiencies are no different, in my eyes, than heart attacks or cancer.
We can accept a stroke, aneurysm or seizure in the brain but we can’t accept brain disorders that manifest as mental health illnesses?
The brain is an organ just like the lungs, heart and liver.
We need to look at the whole person.
Hiding our anxiety, depression, anger, bipolarism, or personality disorder results in the cataclysm of suicide.
Everywhere we go there are living testaments to quality of life with mental health issues.
It's the retail salesperson, hairdresser, bus driver, restaurant server, housekeeper, cable person, and, yes, even your doctor.
We can treat and even cure many diseases; mental health issues are among them.
I come from generations and generations of mental health challenges. From family members in the earlier 20th century who received electric shock therapy, to current family members, and close family friends, who thrive being on talk therapy, exercise, mindfulness, healthy eating, proper rest, supplementation, pharmaceuticals and/or medicinal marijuana.
IT'S THE TWENTY FIRST CENTURY, BABY!!!
If you FEEL something, say something.
SO MANY PEOPLE HAVE YOUR BACK!
I'm one of them.
As always, thanks for reading.
If you enjoyed this or any of my articles PLEASE pass them on to help me grow my readership.
See you again next week!
I interrupt the regularly scheduled Part Deux of the thread on "Imitation" to bring you this:
With everything happening in the world today; the upheavals in politics, religion and entertainment, I felt a bit "de-motivated" to write anything serious.
As a matter of fact, I'm feeling de-motivated to write anything very serious at all, ever.
Finding the funny is what gives us a break in life.
A break from troubles, strife, trends, competition, the global economy, and the bombardment by the media of continual "breaking news" 24/7/365.
We are in a heightened state of alert at all times.
We are apprised of anything and everything within a millisecond of its discovery.
There is also very little filter in the news, or in people.
Say whatever comes to your mind.
Just let 'er rip.
We have a zillion outlets for our "expression" and we use them ad infinitum. (Or should I say ad nauseum?)
Wow, it's a lot to absorb.
We get some relief by putting the topics across in a humorous way.
Or do we?
When we point out the foibles of human existence should we do it with laughter?
Is laughter the best medicine?
I wholeheartedly believe there is truth in jest.
Does that jest have to be at the expense of anyone?
It appears lately that it does.
(You may have thought this article was going in one direction and I sent it in another. I'm like that.)
We make fun of what we don't like, understand, or accept.
We take that kernel of truth and we wrap it in a "funny" moment and put it on display.
We have "roasted" people, places and things for centuries.
So if we laugh about it, is it wrong or unkind?
Is it our right to package life in such a way that we get a laugh?
Does that makes it ok?
Does humor release us from responsibility?
I don't think it does.
That being said...
I love laughter.
Especially at myself.
I love taking my life moments and encasing them in humor.
It helps me accept the good and the not-so-good.
As Monty Python said "Always look on the bright side of life." (Dee Dum Dee Dum Dee Dum Dee Dum).
I couldn't agree more.
BUT if the bright side of life is to denigrate, bully, harass, insult, vilify, defame, humiliate, oppress, discriminate, slur or persecute ANYONE is it REALLY funny?
I say, no.
It's a thinly veiled punch in the gut.
(You may not agree with me, and I am totally OK with that.)
Much of the work in my life has revolved around humor.
Early in my career I chose musical comedy instead of drama or tragedy.
Even in the meditation I taught I infused classes with humor to lighten people's burdens.
Literally no one goes to meditation because they have it all together.
At the very least they need a boost.
Granted, there are days I meditate to enhance the peace in my life and there are days I meditate to bring me peace.
The latter is more frequent than the former.
As human beings in the world, life is nothing without ups and downs.
They make us resilient and appreciative.
BUT I digress...
Does he who has the last laugh win?
Laugh together or cry alone?
Does hilarity have to be hurtful?
Facts ARE funny.
There is no doubt about that.
I love comedians who report the facts and how comical they are.
Truth is MUCH funnier than fiction.
I'm not talking about propaganda, hearsay, or opinion.
I'm talking about pick up the newspaper and start reading.
Or watch a very unbiased, neutral newscast like BBC or the English version of Al-Jazeera.
Both sides of any story get representation.
I guarantee if you don't cry and if you look at the "fact's" with new eyes you will:
2) Roll your eyes.
3)Roll on the ground laughing.
Nobody wins if the purpose of humor or communication is hurtful.
Sooner than later this type of humor bestows a swift kick in the $?!
As always thanks for reading.
See you again next week with Part Deux of "Imitation".
KaZ has been in many facets of entertainment, plus the co-owner of two restaurants, a fitness center, a television production company and the owner of a cinema. She did a stint in politics (she won't be doing that again anytime soon), and in veterinary medicine, She now focuses on writing.
In addition to the above, KaZ is an award-winning vocalist, a former dancer, stunt actor, circus artist, & professional water skier. She has worked as a theater artistic director & writer.
KaZ has been a published writer in magazines & books since the age of 15. She has written plays that have been produced in New York, Florida & New Orleans. She has a featured chapter in the book How To Survive A Move. (Up-to-date she has moved 45 times!) KaZ wrote an article for Organic Wine Journal, and also an article featured at the Ground Zero Memorial.
KaZ co-wrote 2 television informational series & 3 television pilots.
One of the pilots, a sit-com, was produced as a reality pilot. KaZ has revisited it and it's now a one season cable series.
“(And ) Then This Happened.” is based on life, love, and everything in between in the mid-life years. Loosely based on her life and the life of two of her best girlfriends.
KaZ's many high pressure pursuits led her to meditation.
She began studying meditation in '91. Her initial training focused on Kundalini Yoga with Yogi Bhajan and his teachers. She is a certified Master Meditation and Qigong Instructor.
Most recently KaZ taught in a juvenile justice facility, and lectured on mental health in juvenile justice.
With writing being her first love, look for KaZ's upcoming children's books
from the mind of two grandmothers.
Plus, a play based on letters from her two great uncles during WWII.