Book review – Addiction underbelly of restaurant industry

Battling addiction in the restaurant industry
Battling addiction in the restaurant industry

The restaurant industry is a rough place to work. If you pick up Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, you’ll read a brilliant account of the details of the seamy side of life as a restaurant employee—cook, line prep, server or whatever—and you’ll never think about the “back of the house” the same way again.

Recently received a review copy of another book about the dark side of the industry. Called Torn Together, it chronicles the life and times of a married couple as they navigate the choppy waters of addiction and recovery, and condemns how the restaurant industry tends to promote a life of abuse and addiction for its many members.

Authors Scott Magnuson and his wife Shaaren Pine co-own the Argonaut Tavern—a place twice recognized by local Washington, D.C. magazines as one of the city’s best bars and family-friendly restaurants. Magnuson writes as someone who’s recovering from alcohol and drug addiction that started when he was 14 years old. Pine writes as someone who’s had to hold the business and the family together during the worst of it.

The couple founded a nonprofit called Restaurant Recovery that works to assist restaurant employees and their families who need help finding and paying for reputable drug and alcohol treatment programs. The book is intended as a cautionary tale for those fighting addiction and as a call to action to the restaurant industry to change the culture of permissiveness that allows and encourages employees to overindulge. Read more at


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