Part 17: Hope and Change

This is the latest installment in a continuing series that documents my personal quest to become the host of my own cooking show. Since this is a relatively new “career,” there are no vocational programs or community college courses to prepare me for it. From what I have seen, the two most important elements in securing such a position are passion for food and plain old dumb luck. Born with a passion for food, I set out to make my own luck.

Hope and Change

During the election year of 2008 I was convinced there was little difference between the two Presidential candidates. Barack Obama was a young charismatic Progressive Democrat who promised hope and change. John McCain was a Progressive Republican who had sacrificed more for his country than most elected officials will ever even attempt.

I remember thinking that regardless of who won things couldn’t get any worse than the last two administrations. I was wrong. Very, very wrong.

At first I was satisfied with President Obama’s election. I was proud of my country for their decision. It proved once and for all that the culture of discrimination against blacks is dead in America.

FrakenfoodThe new President promised a departure from cronyism and business-as-usual politics. He also promised a recovery from a Recession that had just bottomed out. I was encouraged that having a Liberal in charge would at least put an end to the explosion of Genetically Modified (GM) frankenfoods by Big Ag companies like Monsanto. Mr. Obama had said that lobbyists would not find a job in his White House.

He lied.

Barrack Obama’s very first hire was to tap former Iowa governor and 30-year Monsanto lobbyist Tom Vilsack to be Secretary of Agriculture. He wasn’t even President yet and he had already handed the keys to the nation’s food system over to the very company that he was elected to save it from.

Inauguration Day was still over a month away and in one move the President-elect had already broken half of his campaign promises. That one hire alone was a betrayal of Nixonian proportions. Ultimately Obama filled his cabinet with nothing buy lobbyists; more than half a dozen just from Monsanto. His choice for Surgeon General worked for Burger King!

While our economy was stalemated the new President began pushing his agenda. The result of his policies sent unemployment sky-rocketing and consumer confidence plummeting. Still I was hopeful that it was just a bump in the road – a darkest before the dawn scenario.

The new economy was apparent even at Mars Hill Cafe. Our sales which had climbed each week since my coming on board despite the Bush Recession suddenly leveled out. Granted they leveled out some 250% higher than when I came on board but the newly reinvigorated Obama Recession had killed our momentum. We hadn’t even come close to meeting the potential of the cafe.

Long-term unemploymentEach morning as my sous chef and I drove to work we listened to the unemployment reports. 7.5% soon jumped to 7.9%. We were told if we loaned the government $750 billion that it would never reach 8%. We loaned Obama our money. Then it hit 8%, then 9%, then 11%, 15%; some areas saw it grow to over 20% – that’s Great Depression numbers. Long term unemployment is currently twice as high as it was in the 1930’s. Still we had our jobs so we took a “wait and see” attitude. Could the President turn it around? We were hoping.

Then came the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). The goal was to tweak what was already the world’s best healthcare system so that it was also the world’s most affordable healthcare system. Who wouldn’t want that right?

As it turns out the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is the single most treasonous act Congress has ever perpetrated. 2700 pages of bureaucratic graft and cronyism; not one page of genuine healthcare reform. The President signed Obamacare into law without ever having read even one of those 2700 pages. Not only had he not read the bill he signed into law, but no one had. Not a single human being on the planet knew the entirety of what was in it. Folks, that is the very definition of treason (from the betrayal of a trust or confidence; breach of faith; treachery ).

Once people were allowed to read it the truths were staggering. We were told that those who were happy with their current healthcare would be able to keep it. It was a lie. We were told that the reduction in cost of healthcare would not result in a significant decrease in the quality of healthcare. Whether quality will be effected remains to be seen but we do know that there will be no reduction in the cost of healthcare, quite the opposite. We were told that it wouldn’t go into effect until 2014. That too was a lie.

Parts of the law effecting faith-based, non-profit organizations went into effect almost immediately. Organizations like a certain church-run cafe. The new healthcare law meant someone had to lose their job.

There simply wasn’t enough money in the budget for the increase in fees, restrictions and taxes on Mars Hill Cafe. The board and accountants spent months trying to find a way to save the jobs of three servers. Ultimately they decided that eliminating one salaried position would save those three other jobs. The salaried position eliminated? Executive chef.

Am I a fan of Barack Obama? Not anymore. His hope and change directly resulted in me losing my dream job. I wasn’t a wealthy so-called one percenter, my salary placed me firmly in the lower middle class but what I did helped those in need and I gladly gave up more pay to help those less fortunate. I was living what Obama preached and I was punished for it.

Obamacare hurt Mars Hill Cafe’s mission of donating their profits to those less fortunate. Their ability to grow their business is now vastly limited by not having a fully staffed and experienced management team. My ability to pay my bills was drastically effected as well.

At the same time I do not fully blame the President because I realize that what Obamacare ended up being was not at all what he envisioned when he made all of those quickly broken promises. What it turned out to be was the sick manifestations of megalomaniacs like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, people who’s sole desire is to return America to the aristocracy we fought to free ourselves from in 1776. That bill was loaded down with more pork than a Michael Symon wet dream.

I fault Barack Obama for not having the spine to tell Reid and Pelosi, “Start over and this time get it right.” I fault the President for being a puppet instead of a leader. I fault Obama for not taking ownership over his mistakes instead of blaming everyone from his predecessor to Mother Nature for his own shortfalls. I fault Obama for me losing my job, but I do not blame him alone.

Re-elect No OneIt appears that Mitt Romney will be the GOP candidate in 2012. Romney = Obama = business-as-usual cronyism (aka Progressivism/Socialism). To me the Presidential election is not nearly as important as ridding the Senate and House of the poison of Reid, Snowe, Pelosi, McCain, Boxer, Collins, Feinstein and their ilk. In fact, we need to boot everyone regardless of party. Re-elect no one.

That’s the only change I can believe in.


Have you missed previous installments of Diary of a Wannabe TV Chef? No worries, you can always click the button at the top right on the menu bar entitled “WannabeTVchef Diary.” Or just click HERE.

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Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up


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