Love me or hate me, my passion for putting a flame to a pan is what I do. That passion won’t ever go away; it’s who I am and where I fit best in the world. I’ve bled and sacrificed my life for this craft. I’ve lived the type of life where I didn’t have to go looking for trouble, trouble came looking for me--and I always welcomed it with open arms. made my life worth fighting for. What do you win while fighting against the trouble of doubt? Freedom. You win the freedom to be yourself without compromise or apology. So how do we know when we are free? Now that is the million-dollar question right there. To answer that, we have to take a long look at what freedom means to those who seek it.
A kitchen is the place we flock to in order to feel free. A place where the black sheep of the world feel welcome. Cooking brings people together, yet it also what rips us apart. We all go out into life looking for that feeling of belonging or love, then out of nowhere we find it in the kitchen. What they don’t tell you is that the type of love that we have found in the industry often comes with some dangerous strings attached. Many people that I’ve worked with are perfect examples of this. I tell you, I can’t recall how many times myself and others around me have fallen victim to this addictive lifestyle and the deep dark corners it puts you in. have you ever done a line of blow in order to keep your speed up for the dinner service because you still don't feel completely recovered from the rager you had last night? I know that if it’s happened to me more than four times in my career, it's likely happened to a lot of other people too. So, we all know that one person. We all have been in the icy clutches of that person’s grasp. Powerless. Frozen stiff, but also happily entranced by everything they have to offer you at the time. Fully devoted to providing whatever it is that they need or want from you. This is the perfect high for you in your life right now. Euphoria. Isn’t it a bitch?
Euphoria is that very intense feeling we always search for, yet we always find a way to screw it up (at least I do, and I'm assuming I'm not alone). Well, then what is the point of me having good luck if I’m just always going to remain unlucky? I bet you don’t know that chasing euphoric love is an addiction all on its own. So, when you thought that you had an addictive personality, you were spot-on--which is why you always feel that whatever you do is inconsistent, and harbor ill will toward yourself and those around you at the worst of times. Again, love is addicting, we can't get enough. And too much of anything is bad for you. Finding a happy medium and a balance is the only way we are going to truly find joy and peace. How do we overcome addiction and instead focus on the positive things from the lives we have chosen for ourselves?
If you believe something about yourself, eventually that's all you see. Instead of continuing to live the self-fulfilling prophecy of being unlovable or extremely unlucky all the time, why not find a way to break the vicious cycle once and for all? Sound like what you’ve been doing for a while now? How’s that working out for you? See, I didn’t like returning to square one over and over again and again either. The way that I broke the cycle when becoming sober, was simply having the cycle pointed out to me by a few astute observers. Once made abundantly clear, I was able to pinpoint why I did what I did and said what I said. I often refer to this as my 'learning to grow' stage. I was on the way to some serious growth and development, but not quite there yet. It takes time to build that kind of framework. To some, this is a cold splash of water to the face. A real wake-up call to reality. Melting away the fake taste of euphoria we knew from before, this is what reveals unconditional self-acceptance. The key ingredient of this recipe is called growth. Unconditional self-acceptance is pretty straight forward actually. You have to forgive yourself for all the things you’ve done (which is harder than it sounds). Most of those things helped to build who we are so they're hard to take away. But taking them away makes learning easier. And the subtraction of the self-judgment makes it easier to become happier and less stressed. Just knowing that no one is perfect and that we all are going to make mistakes makes us human.
Being vulnerable, like any normal human being, isn’t something that we're accustomed to in this craft. It’s all emotions gravitating to you on the fly, and disappearing just as fast, leaving you no time to think about what makes you feel the way you feel. No one else asks what’s going on behind your eyes. No one cares or asks about what makes a monster become a monster. They only care about your reaction. So why do we let our reactions become something to be avoided and hidden from others? Why do we turn all that angst and wrath outward, flinging it at those around us like poison arrows? Is it because we want others around us to know what rock bottom looks and feels like? Truth is, we are only projecting, and we want the world around us to hurt as much as we have been hurt. By doing this, we are doing the exact opposite that we should. Instead of lashing out, wouldn’t it make more sense to convert the negative things happening into positive energy and change the world? Who says it can’t be done? The exact same type of people who are treating you like a monster. That’s who. And you know what? Those people suck. And are going to continue to suck because they are stuck in their own pathetic cycles of self-degradation. Hurting you makes them feel useful or important. Hurt people hurt people. So how are they supposed to win at a game that you don’t play? Know your enemy. Stop putting butter in a cold pan. The heat that shit up first, be ready to cook. You are the fire. Now, burn brightly.
Don’t fall for a fake euphoria. Make your own happiness instead. This is the only way that you’re going to take control of your life. It’s all about your state of mind, and with everything going on, state of mind is eternally important. I know the end of the road sounds bleak at best. Truth is, we don’t know what’s going to happen. But one thing is for certain: the passion for our craft will never die. So, create your own happiness. Be who you want to be. Ride those amusement park rides you’ve been eyeing since you walked in the front gate of this lifestyle. With the way life is now, we have been given a chance to start over. Coming back stronger is what we do. So, get your mind in a place that matches your mise en place. And be ready when that call to come back to the line happens. For when it does, we will create our own golden glory days.
Rodney Lienhart is a Chef formerly of McKenzie, TN but is now working and residing in the Lansing, MI area. Starting at the young age of 7 years old. He worked his way through the ranks in his mom's kitchen in the hills of Tennessee. With a background in southern, Italian, French, and Nouvelle cuisines, he uses what he knows to learn more about what he doesn't. When he isn't putting a flame on a sauté pan, he can be found reading and researching about what makes people tick. A massive overindulgence in psychology has led him here to share what he has witnessed in his experiences. Make sure to keep a close eye one his videos coming out soon. In these videos, he will be closely working with Wayhot sauce and Krystilion CBD on future recipes and concepts. You can follow his story and insight into the world of cooking food and adding the health benefits of CBD to his dishes on Facebook also on Instagram @chef_rodney_117