Gordon Ramsay calls out cocaine use in the restaurant industry
Beyond Kitchen Nightmares, being a chef or working in a kitchen at all is an extremely stressful job. Restaurants are fast-paced, brutal and tolerate no mistakes. Hell hath no fury like an unhappy customer. A trade union called Unite found that 69 percent of chefs said that the stress of their job was negatively affecting their lives. 27 percent of chefs said they drank alcohol at work to cope, and 41 percent said they used other stimulants, most likely referring to cocaine and 'uppers' like adderall. Gordon Ramsay calls it the “hospitality industry’s dirty little secret”.
Ramsay swabbed the toilets of 31 different restaurants for traces of cocaine. In every single restaurant except for one, he found cocaine residue. At a charity dinner, Ramsay recounts how a table of guests even asked him personally to dust cocaine over a souffle:
“When dessert arrived the couple came to me and said, ‘Look, everyone on the table is happy you’re here, but can you make a soufflé like never before and combine icing sugar with coke and dust it?’ I laughed it off but there was no way I was going to go anywhere near that. I dusted the sugar on top of the soufflé and caramelised it purposely so they had no idea whether it was on or off. I set the soufflé down. Didn’t even say goodbye. I just left out the back door.”
In 2003, David Dempsey, one of Ramsay's best chefs, died after using cocaine. Ramsay has been inspired to make a new documentary with ITV, called Gordon Ramsay on Cocaine. He hopes the documentary will curb cocaine use by explaining its serious dangers.
"I've wanted to understand the 'world' of cocaine ever since I lost one of my chefs at my flagship restaurant in Chelsea and I wanted to learn why it's becoming such an epidemic not just globally but specifically in the culinary world. I dare anyone to watch this series and not think again about taking cocaine."
Ramsay waxed poetic about the full extent of cocaine addiction in the restaurant industry:
"I saw cocaine quite early on in my career. I've been served it. I've been given it. I've had my hand shaken and left with little wraps of foil in it. I've been asked to dust cocaine on top of soufflés, to put it on as icing sugar... coke's everywhere. It's spiraling out of control."
It sounds like Ramsay hasn't partaken in the drug, but has seen others ruin their lives over it.
In the same interview, Ramsay detailed his beef with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, with whom he has disagreed about the sugar tax and Brexit:
“It’s all very well to spout off now about sugar tax and supermarkets. None of that was spoken about when he was label-slapping with Sainsbury’s for 10 years. No disrespect, but we’re chefs, not politicians. When you breathe that stuff down the public’s throat and say, ‘I’m leaving if we have Brexit’, then, I’m sorry, the door stands open. Stand for what you say.”
We hope that Brexit will ruin cocaine supply lines as well. Let's hope that the restaurant industry sees some major reforms, and an emphasis on mental health.