It’s probably the worst kept secret in the restaurant business, but it takes an outspoken voice like Anthony Bourdain’s to make it the front page headline in the Dining Section of the New York Times:
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 their 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.
Call it haute stoner cuisine.
“There has been an entire strata of restaurants created by chefs to feed other chefs,” Mr. Bourdain said. “These are restaurants created specially for the tastes of the slightly stoned, slightly drunk chef after work.”
As examples of places serving that kind of food, he offered some of David Chang’s restaurants; Au Pied de Cochon in Montreal, with its poutine of foie gras; Crif Dogs in the East Village, which makes a deep-fried cheese steak hot dog; and, in fact, the entire genre of mutant-hot-dog stands…
[continues in the New York Times]