Kat Kinsman believes that "An Awkward Conversation Won't Kill You." In fact, often, it may actually save your life. Since the suicide of Kat's friend and associate, Anthony Bourdain, the conversation about mental health and substance abuse in the hospitality industry has come into sharp focus. After all, it's the hospitality industry that takes care of everyone else - while no one is taking care of them. Often, with little access to health care, long hours and never-ending lists of demands, anxiety and depression are rampant. Some self-medicate, some isolate as they enter what's become know as the "Empty Hour" - that time after a shift, when the party - often ill advisedly - ramps up just as the scary feelings roll in.
I first met Kat when she headed CNN.com's food centric site, Eatocracy, where her work garnered a James Beard nomination, and where in 2014 she was first encouraged to write a blog about her own life long struggle with anxiety. That blog eventually became a very personal, very brave book - Hi, Anxiety: Life With a Bad Case of Nerves. Today, as senior food and drinks editor at Extra Crispy, Kat continues to report on the industry she loves while bravely tackling the mental health crisis that recently has come so sharply into focus. Kat's created an online forum for the industry, Chefs With Issues, that today, is both a web site and an active closed group on Facebook. Since Anthony Bourdain's suicide, Kat has been travelling the country, creating safe spaces for open, raw and thoughtful conversations about the industry's mental health and substance abuse issues and how to find a better way forward.
Kat was in New Orleans recently as part of the new Beyond The Bar initiative from Tales of the Cocktail, an entire new division dedicated to the health and wellness of the cocktail community. While she was in town, we had the chance to sit down together for a frank and honest conversation about her recent work.
There is help, 24 hours a day, no matter where you are. Call 1-800-273-TALK. When talking isn't possible, text the Crisis Text Line at #741741 to reach out.
If you found this Louisiana Eats Quick Bites podcast helpful, stay tuned for an upcoming Louisiana Eats broadcast, where we will continue to explore the industry's issue with mental health and what the possible solutions could be. Subscribe to our podcast to be sure you won't miss it.