The best part….no, the most amazing part of my journey is that I lost over 200 pounds while working as a chef/partner at Buca di Beppo.

Some of you may know what Buca di Beppo is. It is a family-style Italian restaurant that has amazing food.

It has a Pope’s table and a table in the kitchen. It is a great time for the whole family.

It is also a place where most diets end.

Well, my story goes much farther than that.

Last year, this Minnesota based company was purchased by a company based out of Orlando.

Yep, my new corporate office was about 8 minutes from my store now.

They also wanted to redo the menu and give it more life.

Yep, they chose my store to make changes in the menu.

For weeks, I would have chefs in my store working hard on making changes to our menu. They would make ten different pasta dishes and twelve different entrees.

Since they knew I was a chef, they would ask me to taste the food.

I had a slew of excuses, anything not to eat the food:

“I am lactose intolerant.”
“I can not eat pork”
“I am allergic to soybeans”
“I have a gluten allergy.”

One day, the main chef came up to me and said:

“Hey Apples!!! I need you to taste this, and don’t give me some excuse…”

My heart stopped.

I never thought I would be put in a situation that my livelihood would be in jeopardy because of my new lifestyle.

I thought about going home that day and telling my pregnant wife:

“Well, we can not pay the bills today. I would not eat any Chicken Parmesan. Sorry!!”

I thought about maybe tasting the food. Yet knowing that if I did, it would cause an avalanche of eating.

Then I had the thought that changed me.

I thought about myself a year ago in my kitchen crying. My back hurt so bad. I was holding on to the counter so I could not fall. My dog was barking around me. I could not bend down to feed her. In fact, I could not move.

I pulled out my phone and showed the chef my 420 pound picture.

“Okay, who is this?”

“Me sir. That is when I was a chef. I am not wearing chef clothes because they did not fit. And the reason the picture was taken was because I was finally out of the office, which was rare for me at the time. I am good with food. I will smell and touch it. My store has some of the best quality food that this company has to offer. I will not eat the food, but will make sure that someone will.”

He started laughing

“Jesus, I did not want a life story!!”

When I came home that day, I told my wife about the conversation. I told her it was weird, like looking down the barrel of a gun. She looked at me and said:

“You made the only decision.”

I was never put in that situation again.

Wednesday will be my last day with Buca. I have put in six solid years. I am leaving on good terms, and I have respect for everyone I worked with and for.

My last two weeks I did not take a day off ( Reason for my quick posts). I needed to make sure my store was staffed, and my managers got a vacation.

I take pride in whatever I do.

That is why I am so uncompromising.

I hear about people who can not resist a doughnut at the office, or who eat three cupcakes because it is Groundhog Day. I hear about people who are too tired to workout, or who say they have so much going on in life to eat well now.

I am around food for 70 hours a week. I am around VP’s, Senior VP’s, famous chefs and owners who could have fired me for not eating the food.

Yet, they had respect for me. Just like I do now.

Yesterday, my boss talked to me. The last thing he said was

“You will be successful in anything you do.”

It was very nice of him to say, but it was something I finally realized now.

Sometimes, you have to be in hell to truly know what heaven is.

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