Why Do So Many Successful Chefs Take Their Lives?

Could a private world of heartbreak be the reason some of the culinary world's biggest names are led to take their own lives?

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Chef Benoit Violer’s restaurant in Switzerland was named the best in the world but despite his fame and prestige, he killed himself on January 31.

His funeral looked like a ceremony for a world leader.

Chef Curtis Stone, who runs the five-star Beverly Hills restaurant Maude, told IE that he thinks the pressure to maintain his restaurant at such a high level must have been intense.

“My dad was an accountant and he made a good point. No one judged his work every day and people judge my work on a daily basis,” he said.

New Jersey Chef Joseph Cerniglia appeared on the TV show Kitchen Nightmares. In 2010, he jumped off New York's George Washington Bridge.

Dallas Chef Rachel Brown shot and killed herself in 2007, a year after appearing on that same show.

Chef Stone says that “the highs are really high and the lows really suck” when in the restaurant business.

“This job takes a really strong person,” he said. “There is a rebellious nature to people who are drawn to this business.”

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Chicago's Homaro Cantu was a leader in the molecular gastronomy movement; many called him a magician in the kitchen. Despite his praise, he took his life in April 2015.

“It's a very hot and cold business. You can be the hottest restaurant in town and then in one year no one wants to eat at your place,” said the California chef.

Chef Stone added that success in the business is difficult to achieve.

“An average chef might make $50,000-a-year. The average restaurant costs a million to open. How does he do that? So he's usually heavily in debt. You either succeed or fail. There is no in between,” he said.

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