May 14, 2017
Randie Guest has been making a living as a cook since he was 14 years old. Some people might think that his career highlights — apprenticing at the Pan Pacific Hotel and being executive chef for the Pacific Inn Resort — would dwarf his current job as executive chef for Phoenix.
But Randie doesn’t see it that way. For him, every one of the 43 residents — to whom he serves breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week — is as worthwhile as a prime minister.
“Good food is immensely important,” he says of the recovery process. “If you don’t have good food to heal the body, you cannot heal the mind.”
Randie knows about recovery. As someone who left home at 14 – he was a drinker and pot-smoker and a partier — he managed to get sober at the age of 25. “I just woke up after a really bad night and decided I was through with all that nonsense,” he says. He currently owns his own home and has a 20-year successful marriage.
Struggles arose again, however, with his adopted son, Cory, who battled a multi-year drug addiction and who died last year. In fact, it was his son who brought Randie to Phoenix. I came to Phoenix to try to learn how to help him,” he says.
Although his son’s story didn’t have a happy ending, Randie still feels fortunate to have discovered the recovery centre. “I have an amazing rapport with everyone and I feel so happy to be here,” Randie says. “Everyone comes back after they leave and says, ‘chef, I miss your food.’”
As executive chef, Randie is responsible for cooking, ordering food, supervising the other two kitchen staff and interacting with residents. He deals with special needs, such as food for diabetics and he also coordinates the big functions, such as the annual open house, the Christmas Party and a special event called Eat, Live and Play Well. The last two functions draw up to 800 people apiece.
Although his training is in the classical French realm, he’s happy to switch gears to home-style food needed at Phoenix. Still, he’s a sauce guy and especially enjoys the chance to fill the chocolate fountain at the annual Christmas party.
In addition to food, Randie also runs the music program. A guitar, bass player and drummer, he also sings lead vocals and puts a band together every year to perform as the main attraction at Eat, Live and Play Well.
“I am a real person to them who has had real struggles and who understands and relates to what the residents are facing,” he says. “I share and I’m always there to help.”