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From hero to zero – and back

13 August 2013

From hero to zero – and back

UK celebrity chef Michael Quinn had it all. During the 1980s, ‘the Mighty Quinn’ shot to fame as the first British-born executive chef at London’s world famous Ritz hotel.

He cooked for rock stars and royalty, won Michelin stars and made frequent TV appearances promoting his innovative cuisine.

But drinking went hand-in-hand with the exquisite food Michael created. Like many in the hospitality industry, his mantra was ‘work hard, play hard’.

In fact, Quinn played so hard that by the early 1990s, he had lost his job, his marriage, his family and his home to alcoholism.

In just a few short years, the MBE-awarded chef travelled the road from hero to zero, sleeping rough on London’s streets.

Michael is one of the lucky ones though. He got help, got sober and today travels the world as part of his work with the Ark Foundation.

Quinn established the charity to help hospitality workers better understand the impact of problem drinking and drug use.

He recently shared his story with students at the Faculty of Consumer Services at the Manukau Institute of Technology.

“No-one knows where the invisible line is between a social drinker and a dependent drinker,” Quinn told students at the seminar.

“I crossed that line a long time before I knew it. Other people notice first, so watch what they’re saying about your drinking or drug use, because we never think that addiction’s something that going to happen to us.”

Cherie Freeman, Dean of the Faculty of Consumer Services, says Mr. Quinn’s message was honest, compelling – and uplifting.

“Addiction is a very real problem for some people working in the hospitality sector. Michael’s story helped our students better understand some of the early warning signs, and showed that no matter what happens, you can turn your life around if you’ve got the right attitude.”

Today, Quinn’s priorities are his family and his work for the Ark Foundation. He left MIT’s hospitality students with a message of hope, telling students they have an amazing future in front of them.

“There is a massive shortage of skilled hospitality workers around the world. You can go anywhere, work anywhere you choose if you’ve got the right attitude. Never accept second best and remember that if you’ve got a vision, you can make good things happen.”


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