Given that we live in a time when people enroll in culinary school with the goal of getting their own TV show, it’s easy to forget that the vast majority of cooks spend about 14 hours a day doing manual labor for minimal compensation. It’s a resolutely unglamorous profession, and routinely drives its members to various forms of substance abuse.
Earlier this week, the Chicago Tribune turned its attentions to the issue with a sad and moving article about Brandon Baltzley, a promising young chef whose career has been crippled by his cocaine addiction. The article follows Baltzley to his most recent stay in rehab, and takes the reader through what led him there.
Although Baltzley’s latest stints have been in Chicago — at Alinea and, most recently, Tribute — he also spent time at Allen & Delancey and Bouley Upstairs. And our fair city, unfortunately, seemed to only exacerbate Baltzley’s problems:
“Moving to New York only made things worse. Getting cocaine was as easy as pizza, Baltzley said — you called and they’d deliver in 30 minutes. … On days off, he’d disappear from the world, snorting cocaine alone in his apartment, always fearing the crash that followed the high. In a single four-day binge, he recalled going through $2,000 of product.”
In other words, it’s an article worth reading.