This article originally appeared on MUNCHIES in April 2015.
Welcome back to Restaurant Confessionals, where we talk to the unheard voices of the restaurant industry from both the front-of-house (FOH) and back-of-house (BOH) about what really goes on behind the scenes at your favorite establishments. For this installment, we hear from a Dutch chef who lets just the right amount of chaos into his kitchen.
Drugs are taboo in my kitchen, except on two nights a year: the night before King's Day, and New Year's Eve. On those nights, we go crazy. We begin during staff dinner with Champagne. After that, when service starts, we take a few shots of whiskey, and around 7 PM we take our first hit of speed. Front-of-house, back-of-house—everyone gets involved. There is only one condition: You have to keep doing your job, because the restaurant is open as usual.
It's a nice tradition and makes service really funny. Once the speed kicks in, you get a very happy feeling: work is fun! It's a bit of a strange experience, but everything goes fast and people get their food quickly. "You haven't had your starter yet? I don't care—here's the main course!"
Last year, on the night before King's Day, we had a magnum of whiskey and half a bottle of vieux. There's a party vibe reverberating throughout the city, so why not bring it into the kitchen and make our own party? You do need to be careful that you don't take too many drugs, though. If your whiskey levels start to overtake your drug levels, you'll turn into a dick. That happened last year with a friend on New Year's Eve. Two hours after we had started drinking, I'd only had one shot—but he had had nine, and soon enough he was puking in the kitchen. He stopped by a few patrons' tables because he thought he could still talk, but he was just babbling. By midday, he was stretched out on the floor in the pantry.
Drugs and booze certainly don't make you a better cook, and they put your sense of taste in really bad form. You have to be sure that your mise en place and all your sauces are ready before you start drinking.
Speed is the worst drug. I have tried everything, and I love tripping, but that's not good for the kitchen. This year, I procured some dexamphetamine—a natural, pure form of speed. With it, you have absolutely no hangover. Regular speed gives you a terrible hangover. I once thought I could deal with that hangover with some more speed that I had leftover, but that is not the way to go. I'm sick of having a drug hangover. If speed makes you exhausted, your mind has to recover, and sometimes it takes a few days. That's really awful.
When I was younger and not yet a chef, I did that. I once worked with a girl who was a speed dealer. She had a suitcase full of the stuff under her bed. On the last night we worked together in the kitchen, we both took some. Shortly after we had taken it, I was sent home and she just stood there with her mouth agape. I lost a bag of speed once in the same restaurant and got caught: I had to make apologies in front of all the staff.
No drugs in the kitchen outside of King's Night and New Year's Eve—never, never, never again. Sweating, heart palpitations, and the feeling that I'm dying? I'm over that, too.
But twice a year we celebrate, and for that I'm excited.
As told to Felicia Alberding