Chef Graham Elliot Bowles on Bringing the Ruckus

"There's myriad things that I wanna be able to do and be able to accomplish in my life, and there's one thing I'm really passionate about is politics and leadership and the idea that OK, if I can come into a restaurant and convince a culinary team this is why we cook this, this is what I think will go with it and then be able to explain that to the front of the house team, they in turn persuade the guests, and then all of a sudden you affect a small amount of change, bringing people to your way of thinking as far as food goes. What if you're able to apply that same thought process with a bigger good? How could you affect change on a broader scale -- and I think that that's something that I'm really excited by. You know when you see people like Arnold Schwarzenegger that come to this country, unable to speak the language, just a big muscle man. All of a sudden getting into Hollywood, making his money and then by 50 saying, achieved everything I wanted, what's the second half of my life going to be, let's give back. He doesn't need the power or the money or the fame, you want to do something good. And I think that -- I know that that's somewhere down the road for me."

For the time being, however, Bowles is holding off on his political career. Although he'd finally achieved his goal, the year was a difficult one for him personally – a divorce, a custody battle for his son, and leaving the comfort of a steady job with benefits – took its toll. With a history of depression and bipolar disorder as a teenager, Bowles knew he walked a fine line.

"So 2008, was a very tumultuous year," he said. "On one hand, I was creating my restaurant, my dream and on the other hand, was going through a divorce, having to sell my house in the worst market in history, and I had a 12-year-old son that I was having to have a custody battle with--so, all of those things going on at the same time of doing this restaurant and leaving the comfort of a hotel with benefits and a great salary. I think I had two ways of looking at things, like either this is the end of me and I'm not gonna be able to get through it; you know and there was a lot of sleepless nights and crying in the shower and thinking I'm gonna jump off of this building. And then the other way of looking at it which is ultimately what I decided on was-- this is a chance for rebirth this is another opportunity in life, from here on of still having an incredible relationship with my son, pursuing a relationship with my girlfriend, having this restaurant, being able to do the food I want without having to think about ratings and stars and anything else and that's the direction I took and that's what's led me here today.

"When it came time to choose, I knew that depression wasn't an option."

Bowles aims to live life to the fullest: he reads everything he can, plays music and sings, and he's constantly trying new things in the restaurant.

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