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Celebrity chef Brother Luck shares how he overcame depression during a pinnacle of his career

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Posted at 12:44 PM, Jun 21, 2024

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The Brother Luck you may know beat Bobby Flay in a 2016 episode of the Food Network's reality television show, "Beat Bobby Flay." It was a moment that catapulted his career and led to more television appearances on "Chopped" and two seasons of "Top Chef." You also may know the celebrity chef has restaurants in Colorado Springs including Four by Brother Luck and a new one he just opened with Chef Beto Reyes called Eleven 18, Latin Tapas Bar.

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But, the Brother Luck you probably don't know is the one who behind the smiles was hiding a painful battle with addiction and depression.

Brother Luck: I kept having this feeling of feeling like a fraud, like an impostor.
Dianne Derby: Why?
Brother Luck: Because I was sharing all these messages about positivity and protecting your mental health, feeling right about yourself, but I wasn't feeling good about myself internally. I wasn't feeling good about myself physically and when I would get the videos back from my videographer of the recaps of the speeches, and I would watch them, I was ashamed to share them because I didn't like what I saw.
Dianne Derby: What did you see?
Brother Luck: I saw someone who was depressed. I saw someone who was overweight, I saw someone who was forcing a conversation and not truly living that lifestyle and I didn't know how to truly I didn't know how to get out of it. I was just kind of spiraling."

At his heaviest, Luck said he weighed nearly 300 pounds.

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"I needed to make some changes and I went to the doctor and I was like, 'What do I do?'," said Luck.

He says the doctor prescribed him an antidepressant.

"One of the side effects of the antidepressant that I was actually prescribed was it stopped cravings," said Luck. "It was the weirdest thing that the first day I took it. I'll never forget this, I love to cook and drink rose, love it, bubbles, and a kitchen, are like my happy place. And for years, that was what my team knows put the bottle of sparkling in the fridge, I'm gonna cook today. And I remember going to work that day, we were doing a private event, and I put the bottle in the fridge and I got into the dinner, and around six o'clock, right before the guests showed up, went to go crack and I didn't want it."

Luck said he hads't had a drink in ten months. He admitted his addiction nearly cost him his life when he left his second season of Top Chef in 2019.

"What was supposed to be one of the pinnacles of my career, I was the most depressed," said Luck. "My story, my pain, the things that I ignored, the wounds that I had, I thought shoving them in a closet and ignoring them would make them go away. Ignoring a problem will never make things go away. I got put into a perfect storm of an environment that triggered something I wasn't prepared for. It triggered my insecurities, it triggered the lies that I had with myself, and as I listened to those voices, and I fueled them with alcohol and prescription pills, I gave up on myself, in a hotel room in Kentucky, I gave up on myself."

Luck said he took a bottle of Ambien sleeping pills and drank whiskey hoping to die. He says he's fortunate to have survived.

Along with getting professional help, Luck credits leaning on his inner circle of family and friends. At the center of that circle is his wife of 24 years, Tina.

Brother Luck and Wife, Tina

"We've earned each other's trust, which is what enhances our love," said Luck. "I think that's where people are most fascinated by our story together is it's friendship but it is true love. I just had this recent realization that true riches is actually finding someone to love you unconditionally, and being able to give it back. It has nothing to do with money. It has nothing to do with possessions. It is about vulnerability and it is about having someone believe in you and see you and being able to give that back to them willingly. I'm a very rich man."

Luck said his wife's love and his honesty and vulnerability helped him to move out of depression. He talks directly about mental health and its impact in his memoir "No lucks given: Life is hard but there is hope" and through social media.

In one post in April, he wrote, "Same smile but two completely different people." Luck says in the photo on the left he was overweight and mentally spiraling.

Dianne: What was the harshest criticism in your head?

Brother Luck: I didn't like myself.

Dianne Derby: Do you like yourself now?

Brother Luck: I love myself now. But it took a number of years of staring at that mirror and seeing that reflection and making eye contact and learning how to smile back.

Dianne: What do you like about yourself?

Brother Luck: I like everything about myself. I like myself because I've learned that I'm authentically me. I am. To be a chef, I'm a one-of-a-kind recipe and I think there is something so powerful about that statement because we all are."

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