Addiction is not the end of the road. People can change and survive. They can build their own road to recovery.
This is what Louie Bossi, chef-partner of his namesake Italian restaurants in Fort Lauderdale and Boca, says over the phone. He’s explaining why he and Big Time Restaurant Group are hosting the first “Taste of Recovery” food event in Delray: It’s to honor people who have died from drug and alcohol addiction and to celebrate people who are recovering from their addictions.
In photos, Bossi looks like a happy guy who loves to eat Italian food (makes sense). It’s hard to picture him as homeless and addicted to heroin.
But the truth is stranger than fiction. Bossi has survived a drug overdose, an issue that occurs daily in South Florida and especially Delray Beach.
“Where I’m at today is a far cry from where I was 20 years ago,” Bossi says. “I know the dark place you can go.”
In 1998, Bossi was referred to Crossroads Club by a friend who said the nonprofit held 12-step meetings for addicts who wanted to recover. Bossi owes his life and family to Crossroads. He met his wife there, and they now have two children, and Bossi is nine years sober.
About 1,000 people walk in and out of the doors every day at Crossroads Club, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary of operation. All proceeds from Taste of Recovery will go to the nonprofit. The event will feature samples from restaurants like Louie Bossi’s, Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar, City Oyster & Sushi Bar, Farmer’s Table, The Grille, Max’s Harvest, Tucker Duke’s, Rebel House, Josie’s Ristorante, Papa’s Raw Bar, Oceans 234, Fries to Caviar and Outback Steakhouse. Season’s 52 will make the desserts.
Chefs will compete for cash prizes for the “best bite,” and comedians SARGE and Rick Corse will entertain. Tickets are $40 each, and the event runs from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Old School Square Pavilion Saturday, June 3.
Bossi hopes that Taste of Recovery goes national. He wishes to raise awareness of the struggles that both addicts and those in recovery face in the hospitality industry. At restaurants, which don’t require college degrees, addicts and recovering addicts might work for the same reason: fast cash. Restaurants are known for being brutal work environments with a drug and alcohol culture that’s common in the kitchens. Just read Anthony Bourdain’s book and you’ll understand.
I asked Bossi why he didn’t just focus on his own recovery and staying sober. That’s a huge task on it’s own. Why hold this Taste of Recovery event?
“It’s because I get more back by giving, so to say,” he says. “They say you can’t keep what you have unless you give it away. I don’t know any better high that I’ve ever experienced than giving back to another human being and their families.”