Flavor Junkie: The Story of the journey from Street Cop, to Food Network Celebrity and the harsh reality of living a double life and when both worlds crumble down at the same time.
The razor sharp blade cut a clean line up to the midsection, just like an experienced butcher he angled the blade outward and in two quick slices of about 10 inches each had completely exposed the heart, lungs and other organs which were quickly removed and weighed. I heard the whir of circular saw working at the other “stations” to remove the brains after cutting around the skull, but not at my station. A quick slice to the back of the head and the face was peeled ever so carefully, now normally a circular saw would be used to remove the brain, but not in this case as it was not needed. The top of the skull was soft and made up of 4 little “triangle’s”, which peel back like the petals of a flower to expose the brain. Her brain was removed and examined for sub-dural hematoma’s and excess blood which would be indicative of being shaken violently.
“Fuck”, I thought to myself as I looked down at the cold steel examination table. I felt every emotion possible and all at the same time. I was doing my best to contain the rage, horror, disappointment, I was trying to hold it together, trying to be the text book “Detective” as I stared at the 9 month old child who had just been sliced to pieces by a coroner who was straight out a horror movie casting call. I took my notes, interviewed the coroner a bit and then tried to put it all into my “bucket”.
The “bucket” is a place in my soul where I put all the bad shit that I see working the streets of South Los Angeles as a cop and as a detective. Being a detective was cool and all, but I had the shittiest of all the detective jobs, I was the child abuse and child sexual assault detective. My world consisted of dead babies, kids who had been whipped, beaten, burned and broken as well as the ones being forced to blow uncle Juan or that were ass raped by Dad before school, and to make things worse I was “deep into” the church sexual abuse by priest scandals which shook ended up shaking my faith in god and the church to the core. I would see these kids, listen to the stories and wonder how they survived, how they moved on, did they have a “bucket” like I did?
The only way I could “empty my bucket of demons” was to do something “good” and fill up my “other bucket” which would bring balance to my life. I looked for stuff to do, to pay things “forward” so I could empty out that bucket of demons, but I was having a hard time doing it, I had 4 yr old, and a brand new baby and a wife that worked night shift just so we could watch the kids and still have some money left. I worked long hours, and became very good at my job, I also was at a breaking point. The bucket was overflowing with demons and if I didn’t find a way to empty it fast, I was going end up a statistic, another fucking cop that sucked on the business end of a Berretta 92F and blew himself away because the job sucked the soul from him, and end the end took away the reason to live. I needed to find and escape from my world, and find it fast….I needed to find a reason to live!
I read the local paper called the Daily Breeze every morning, and I would get so pissed off at the Food Critic because he always reviewed those “pompous ass, snooty, rich boy” places to eat. I knew a ton of great places to eat, shit I could find you’re the best Burritos, Shwarma, Pho in any town, just by acting like a cop and looking at the clues. Everyone with half a brain knows that cops always know the best places to eat. It’s common knowledge (at least for my foodie and cop friends) that if you go to a place to eat and there are 3 cop cars parked out front, and its not getting robbed, then that place is gonna be tasty as hell! That was it, I had found my escape from the hell of my “real world” I would create a separate life and food or specifically writing about food would be my escape!
Now how the hell was I going to do that I thought to myself, I mean the newspaper already had a Food Critic. I needed to make this happen, and I know that if you don’t ask, you ain’t getting shit! I contacted a reporter named Sandy Cohen (who is now with the associated press) and asked her if she had any ideas, she put me in touch with an editor named Leo Smith. Leo took a risk and ran with my idea and the next thing I knew I was writing my “very own” newspaper column called “The Culinary Detective”! That phone call and newspaper column, began a wild journey that would over the next 5 yrs take me into the kitchens and into the living rooms of America as a host on the Food Network. One minute I was drinking with Anthony Bourdain in NYC, the next I was in Texas with Bobby Flay standing on a stage in front of 50,000 people. People would come up to me in airports and want my autograph, I got invited to Hollywood premieres to work the red carpet, it was as Guy Fieri (a man whom I have never met, but has impacted my life) would say “off the hook”! My bucket of demons was empty, and I was having a blast but little did I know that I would have plenty of demons for a whole “new bucket”
The “ride” began with the death of an infant girl and for me the “ride” pretty much the ended the same way, with death and in one day. It began with lunch at my favorite Pho place and ended with me trying desperately to breath life into the body of a 3 yr old little girl in princess pajamas, then getting home to find out my show was canceled. This is the story of what its like to live a double life, that of a cop and that of a foodie. I will tell the stories of what its really like to write about food and “shoot” Food Television, and I will also tell you what its like to shoot another human being. This is a story of my two lives, separate yet at times crashing together. It’s a story of me trying to cope with the burdens of one life by creating a new one and of trying to keep myself “real” in both of them, a task that is not so easy. Welcome to “my world”!
There will be some funny shit from both worlds, so please don’t be offended by my swearing etc, I am keeping it real.
P.S. Oh yea, I am doing this without an “agent” or a “book deal” or any of that stuff, just like I have done everything before…I figure it will work itself out, let me know if you like it so far.
Sgt Chris Cognac
The “Hungry Detective”