I just finished season six of Chef’s Table and Sean Brock is featured in the last episode. In it, he describes the muscular disease that has started to affect his eyesight, and how while he was seeking an initial diagnosis for whatever it was, he sunk into a deep depression and was drinking so extensively that the people closest to him decided they needed do an intervention.
This article was actually written prior to that intervention, after initial success with his treatment made it possible for him to go back to work again:
A long-awaited treatment this year gave Brock a creative surge that led to a genius revamp of his first Charleston restaurant, McCrady's. But will the stress of a high-profile opening bring back the sickness?
Sean struggled with even getting an accurate diagnosis for his disease for almost three years, and as I connected dots in my head, it occurred to me that the episode of Parts Unknown that featured Sean, which aired in November 2015, was most likely filmed during this time, as he was losing his eyesight and undergoing operations without knowing what was actually happening to him.
You see him drinking an awful lot in his adventures with Tony. It seems like they're having fun but if this happened when it seems like it happened – at the same time Parts Unknown: Charleson was filmed – then he was not able to work in his restaurant at the time. Mentally, he was in an awful place, despite his cheerful outward appearances.
Nowadays he seems to be doing much better. I love the fact that in the restaurant he is opening in Nashville, he is focusing on mental health and on building a restaurant around the experience of the employees as much as the customers.
Given all that Tony wrote about the restaurant business, how it affects people, and his own mental health struggles, I thought you all might like to know that someone he has a lot of respect for is fighting the good fight in a way that will really impact the lives of the people around him.
I'm happy to see Sean Brock’s career go in the direction it is. I hope he’s successful, and that others see the value in this kind of approach and follow his example.
I'm also very grateful that he chose to share his story and that there are so many different perspectives of him available from the same time period. That makes his story a rare and very helpful example of the ways depression doesn't always look like depression from the outside. Examples that are so rich in detail are very hard to come by.