Inspiration from chef Darren Svee. (1977-2017)

When I was nineteen I was torn between wanting to pursue the life of a musician and the life of a chef. I had been working in restaurants for four years by then and I had just moved to Billings, MT after leaving a great restaurant, my friends, and family, back in CDA, ID. I got a job upon arrival at Enzo Mediterranean Bistro. The work was tough and I remember many nights being near tears in the shower while blowing black soot carcinogens out of my sinuses from the mesquite wood grill I’d been working at all night.

Over the next two years I was working full time, going to school, playing four days a week at a mega-church, and starting my own blues/rock band, Tyler Burnett.
I was getting stretched out in as many directions as possible and one day the chef, Darren Svee, pulled me into the office and said, “I know you are trying to pursue both music and cooking, but if you really want to be good at one of them, I think you need to choose one.” It was a beautiful moment and one that freed me up to do just that.

(Luckily, I always had cooking to help me out when I was off of the road.)

It takes guts to pull someone aside and give the hard life speech–I can’t do it–I don’t like that pressure, but Darren changed my life with that talk and I will always remember him for that–as well as many other good times we had. Darren was kind, hard working, and a gentle soul to everyone he came into contact with (unless you were a little cook that thought he knew everything). Unfortunately for the world, Darren passed away last week. I’ll always remember him as having a substantial impact on my life in a place I was least expecting it.

I hope that I can help someone like Darren helped me.

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