Even preschool teachers unwind with a round of drinks now and then. But in professional kitchens, where the hours are long, the pace intense and the goal is to deliver pleasure, the need to blow off steam has long involved substances that are mind-altering and, often enough, illegal.
“Everybody smokes dope after work,” said Anthony Bourdain, the author and chef who made his name chronicling drugs and debauchery in professional kitchens. “People you would never imagine.”
So while it should not come as a surprise that some chefs get high, it’s less often noted that drug use in the kitchen can change the experience in the dining room.
In the 1980s, cocaine helped fuel the frenetic open kitchens and boisterous dining rooms that were the incubators of celebrity chef culture. Today, a small but influential band of cooks says both the chin-dripping, carbohydrate-heavy food and the accessible, feel-good mood in their dining rooms are influenced by the kind of herb that can get people arrested.