10 Things to Start Doing to Keep the Restaurant Industry From Ruining Your Life – Chef Chris Hill

10 Things to Start Doing to Keep the Restaurant Industry From Ruining Your Life – Chef Chris Hill.


These are not my words but words I strongly agree with and relate to.  I’ve been in the hospitality and restaurant industry for 16 years, more than half my lifetime.

One thing I have learned is that only a small percentage of restaurant workers are there by choice.  We are all here for many  reasons.  Maybe Something went seriously wrong in their lives,  maybe they can’t make it in “normal jobs”, they do it for cash and they do it well, or maybe just like it here.

Whatever your reason one thing is true of all.  The restaurant business can chew you up in spit you out if you let it.

You can read the full article here.

Here are the 10 Things you should start doing to keep the restaurant industry from ruining your life.

  1.  Be Intentional and Set Goals for Yourself  – “Does this job help me get closer to my goals, the “mountain” or do I now find myself further away?”
  2. Focus on Yourself – If you are one of my employees reading this, you should follow this one.  Stop obsessing about what everyone is or isn’t doing and focus on doing the best job you can do.  
  3. Appreciate the Other Jobs & People Around You  – If you are a server…imagine walking a mile in the dishwashers shoes.  The restaurant can’t function without them, yet he or she is underrated and not paid as well as you.  Maybe you don’t make them work any harder than they need to. 
  4. You are the Average of the 5 People With Whom You Spend the Most Time  – make sure they are the right people.
  5. Don’t Just Settle For a Paycheck – “If you’re boss won’t give you more responsibility or opportunity to grow, it’s time to find someone else to work for.”
  6. Go Home After Work and Save Your Money.
  7. Keep in touch with non-industry related friends .
  8. Disconnect..
  9. Take Care of Yourself 
  10. Don’t Lose Sight of What’s Most Important in Life.

The last three are the most important and the biggest themes of this year long project.




Finding The Right Job For Me

“He doesn’t yearn for a better, different life than the one he has – because he knows he’s got a home in this one.”
― Anthony BourdainKitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

Anyone that knows me, knows that I have worked in restaurants for a very long time.   Fourteen years to be exact.

What they don’t know is that I was went to college to be a cyber crime investigator for the CIA or FBI.

Straight out of high school I attended Utica College back when it was part of Syracuse University.  My major was “Economic Crime Investigation with a concentration in Computer Science.”

2 years down and 2 years to go.  Everything is going great.  Criminology, Statistics, Basic Computer Programming all  a piece of cake.

So what happened?  Once it we got into the super advanced computer language, I “slowly collapsed like a flan in a cupboard”  random Eddie Izzard quote.

I couldn’t focus.  I couldn’t get it down.  Which should have a red flag for my un-treated ADHD , but instead I withdrew.  Ashamed and embarrassed I went into hiding in the restaurant business.

I loved the face paced environment of the restaurant but I would easily get bored in the position I was in.  Then I learned new positions.  Then I knew all the positions.

It was only fitting that I would become a manager one day.

While restaurant management has plenty of frustrations, It’s perfect for someone like me.   I love the constant “bouncing” I must do when running a shift.  I can help greet guests at the door,  pour a beer at the bar,  bus a table, direct staff, flip a saute pan, and chop some basil all in the course of a few minutes.

I do hope to climb in my profession or go on to bigger and better things but for now I know I found a job that I can excel at.

Here is a link for fellow ADHD brains to help your find the right job for you.


The Moment of Truth : Conner’s CPT II

Throughout the diagnosis process,  I had to take a computerized CPT ( continuous performance test) to aid in determining if I really had ADHD.

It’s meant to assess different attention related problems like inattentiveness, impulsivity , sustained attention, and vigilance.

The functionality of the Conner’s CPT II  is very simple.  I stare at a black screen for 14 minutes and letters randomly show on the screen.  If it sounds boring…it is.  That’s the point.   I am supposed to hit the space bar every time a letter pops up.  Except for the letter “X”.  At that point I am not supposed to hit the space bar.

I took it four times.  Under different scenarios each time.  With Caffeine, without caffeine, after work, before work,  good nights sleep, very little sleep.  To see if it skewed the results and provided a different explanation for my difficulties.

However, all the tests showed similar results.  While it measures many things I will use the data of how many times I hit space bar when  the “X”  came up  to paint the picture.  Remember, I’m not supposed to hit the “X” but I did…many times.  28 times on average for each trial.   Which is a key sign of inattention.

Now,  fast forward a couple months and I am three weeks on mediation.  It’s time to go back and take the test again with the Adderall fresh in my system.

All the perimeters that the test looks for had improved.  Number of times that I hit the space with the “X” ; 13.  Which is average.

This is great news.  Because I obviously “feel” like it helps and can totally tell the difference.  (I didn’t take it this morning because I had to wait until 2 hours before my appointment and I was totally lost and miserable).  Now, I can actually see that it does work.  It does help.

The only question that remains is that I have hit the “full therapeutic dose “.    Which is a discussion for my primary and I.

“But you’re the GM.”

I spend a lot of time these days talking to managers and employees about what they need to do to get to the next level of their career.

I usually list in my dialogue characteristics and traits that I do my best to project on a daily basis.

Things I usually say include:

“Listen to your people, get them involved in finding the solution.”

“If everyone has gotta each a shit sandwich, make sure you take the first and biggest bite.”

“Don’t ask anyone to do anything that you wouldn’t do yourself”

My frustration shows when I get this response:  “Well you’re the GM…you should do those things.”

They miss the point entirely   You don’t get promoted or get an opportunity and then magically become a different person.  Having all the skils to do the job.

You develop, then practice the basic work ethic and interpersonal skills that will make your promotable.

I said before that when I became a GM, I didn’t really know  how to be a GM.  But I knew how to lead.  The nuts and bolts of your position come with practice but if you know how to hustle and work with others you can succeed.

But there is a fundamental problem with the workforce today along multiple generations.  They feel entitled to development and growth in the field just by showing up and not learning the skills necessary to climb the ladder.


Department Of Human Resources

I can’t deny the a lot of management style, as well as my writing is inspired by Anthony Bourdain.

He’s much acclaimed masterpiece, Kitchen Confidential got me really excited about the restaurant industry when I first read it back in 2006.

I greatly enjoy his 2010 follow, Medium Raw and all the other countless restaurateur and management books that would follow.

He and I share the same philosophy when it comes to our relationship with our employees.  Especially the ones that have personal problems


 I’ve coddled plenty of dangerously unstable characters
over the years; I’ve kept on plenty of people who I knew in the end would make me look bad and
become more trouble than they were worth. I’m not saying I’m Mister Rogers, a softie-okay,
maybe I am saying that . . . a little bit. I appreciate people who show up every day and do the
best they can, in spite of borderline personalities, substance abuse problems and anti-social
tendencies; and I am often inclined to give them every opportunity to change their trajectories, to
help them to arrive at a different outcome than the predictable one when they begin visibly to
But once gone-quit, fired or dead-I move on to the next problem. There always is one.

It’s that last line that I have the biggest problem with.  I worry about most of my crew that leave due to personal demons.

One soon after departing.  Lost their life.

I care about my crew and their problems.
I go home Saturday night with a sulking cook getting crispy around the edges on my mind?
Someone in my kitchen talking about going AWOL, exhibiting symptoms of the dreaded martyr
mode? My weekend is ruined. All I’m going to be thinking about for every waking moment is that
cook and what I can do to fix the situation. I’ll lie there on the bed, staring into space, paying
scant attention to the TV, or what my wife is talking about, or the everyday tasks of bill paying,
maintaining a home, behaving like a normal person.


Struggling With Emotions

Emotional regulation is commonly difficult for those with ADHD, myself included but in a different way.  While many people with ADHD have trouble controlling/regulating their emotions,  I now as an adult, have trouble displaying them.  Joy and Sadness specifically.  I certainly have no problem displaying anger.

I remember growing up I was an overly emotional kid.   I would burst into tears over the smallest of things then be overly happy in the matter of minutes.

This actually continued into my early adult years.  In which it was deemed “unattractive” and “undesirable” to have be man who displayed such emotion.

Not sure how it was done but somehow the ability to show sadness in the form of tears was turned off.

“It was though I had my thermostat removed, was without a regulator.  I couldn’t be counted on to act appropriately, to respond correctly” Anthony Bourdain.

Even at times in which I should no wanted to cry, I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  The deep sadness inside making it even more painful now that I couldn’t show it.

“It’s cruel that you can cry and I cannot.

Here is a terrible pain I cannot express.”  Andrew Martin.  Bicentennial Man.

Does anyone else have this problem?



Look Up, Get Up, And Don’t Ever Get Up

After giving the presentation of my lifetime to a room full of my peers, we gathered around to watch the announcements of the award winners for the entire company.

I had really thought is was my year to take home the big prize.  The GM Of The Year.

I had thought I deserved it.  6 straight years of positive sales growth.  1st in the Division, 2nd over all.  Years of ingenuity and personal growth for not only myself but my entire team.

It would have put the feather in a capped to an amazing year long project of both personal and professional achievements.

As it became abundantly clear that my name was not going to be read, my head filled with disappointment.

I then began to think about Michael Irvin’s Hall of Fame Speech.  And I realized that even though I’m going to be disappointed for a while, I will need to pick myself up, redouble my efforts, and never give up.


 sat right here where you are last year and I watched the Class of 2006:  And I said, Wow, that’s what a Hall of Famer is.

Certainly I am not that. I doubted I would ever have the chance to stand before you today. So when I returned home, I spoke with Michael and Elijah . I said, That’s how you do it, son. You do it like they did it. Michael asked, he said, Dad, do you ever think we will be there? And I didn’t know how to answer that. And it returned me to that threshing floor. This time I was voiceless, but my heart cried out. God, why must I go through so many peaks and valleys?

I wanted to stand in front of my boys and say, Do it like your dad, like any proud dad would want to. Why must I go through so much?

At that moment a voice came over me and said, Look up, get up, and don’t ever give up. You tell everyone or anyone that has ever doubted, thought they did not measure up or wanted to quit, you tell them to look up, get up and don’t ever give up.