It is not unknown that society as we have come to know it is limping along due to the pandemic we have addressed as COVID-19, or the coronavirus. Businesses have closed down, whole cities are on lockdown, individuals are falling ill left and right—this is all incredibly stressful. Anyone can tell you how easy it is to fall into a state of panic because of this virus and what professionals have been telling us, but it is very important to keep in mind that we are all dealing with this together and we can get through this. This can be as simple as making sure the elderly have the opportunity to buy the groceries they need, making sure to follow the guidelines to stunt the spread of the virus, and overall making sure a positive mindset is focused upon instead of how troubling these times are. Regardless of how hard it gets, every last one of us will make it through.

Still, there is one industry that has been forced to buckle under the pressure: the hospitality industry. Restaurants, bars, and hotels have been forced to close down or limit service until the virus has died down. It forces one to think though, while some individuals are fortunate enough to work from home, what about the chefs? The cooks? The dishwashers? A chef can’t exactly do their job from home, so when their kitchen must close down in adherence to guidelines provided to them in hopes of combating the virus, they have to accept the fact that all of the staff must find ways to make ends meet until their place of work is up and running again. Colorful semantics aside, some of our local chefs were kind enough to weigh in on this matter

Harrison Rieping, a young local chef who works at Fuzzy’s, weighed in on the mental health of the individuals laid off during this time: “The effects on the individuals at this time are going to bring out the best and worst in us all. People are going to relapse, or really give in to their addictions. This industry is full of it and seeing how our work is usually the only thing to stabilize our mental health, you take that away—our jobs—it is going to be very difficult for a lot of us to be healthy or productive.” This can be a perspective that is often forgotten when it comes to the mental health of the culinary industry, as it is often a misplaced thought as to how much work a chef puts into his craft, how many hours they work a week to satiate the masses. There is a running joke on the internet about how one’s food tastes like the chef doesn’t have any tattoos, but is it really the tattoos that are missing in this case? Or is it that the chef has been working way too long, mentally drained, and beginning to burn out?

What about the positive outlooks on this situation? It can be hard, but it isn’t impossible as this pandemic is only temporary. Josiah Boyd, Sous Chef of the Till, has a rather different perspective on this. “For me there is so much negativity wrapped around this whole thing with how devastating the loss of work and wages for so many has been. But I would like to look at the positive side, the overwhelming amount of support that the Colorado Springs F&B community (family) has had for everyone in it. GoFundMe pages and support groups have been created along with all sorts of other things of that nature. The support and camaraderie shown in these hard times is inspiring to say the least, and I am proud to be a part of this community.”

Chef Luck, owner of Four by Brother Luck and former competitor on Chopped, is worried about the fallout of the restaurant industry, saying, “I, personally, feel a lot of restaurants aren’t going to survive these hard times within our industry. It’s important to be safe and follow the government mandates to avoid spreading the illness. Our guests can support us by purchasing gift cards, requesting drop off caterings, or ordering food to go…It hurts to tell [suppliers] you can’t pay them when they have been so loyal over the years.”

As Chef Josiah and Chef Luck recommended, the best ways we can help to keep the culinary industry alive is to find these GoFundMe pages and purchase gift cards and to-go items. We are all in this together, and we must do what we can to help each other to ensure we make it out of this as a whole. If we don’t, the culinary industry we know and love simply will not be the same. I would like to thank all of the chefs who took the time to comment for this article and gave us their unique perspectives on these hard times we are all going through. So, in salute to all of the chefs, cooks and dishwashers, let’s all have a Corona, hold the virus.

Author’s note: The persons quoted in this article are expressing opinions that are solely their own and do not reflect the views of this author or OnMetro.

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Cailean has lived in Colorado his entire life, a 22 year old young man located in the heart of Colorado Springs. He has worked as a freelance writer for clients around the United States, and took the initiative to get first hand experience “behind the scenes” of the culinary industry here in Colorado; at the age of 5 he was reading college level books, and had already begun writing his own stories. In his free time he can be found exploring the state of Colorado, playing music with friends, or continuing to gather knowledge of the local culinary industry, it can be mentioned by his friends and family that he never really stops working- his mind always goes back to the same thing: stories. There are so many stories around Colorado that he wants to bring right to your fingertips.