Tuesday 14 August 2018

My money: 'I paid over five dollars for a quart of milk in Alaska'


Trevis Gleason
Trevis Gleason

independent.ie Business

Trevis Gleason is an award-winning American chef and author who moved to Ireland with his wife Caryn in 2012. He has been living with multiple sclerosis for most of his adult life. He revealed the challenges of living with the disease in his recent book Chef Interrupted.

Gleason also compiled and edited Dingle Dinners, which was launched last September during the Dingle Food Festival. The book was published by Collins Press.

What's the most important lesson about money which your career as a chef has taught you?

I suppose it would be the way that chefs look at waste. Chefs know that we pay not only for the food item, but for delivery, storage, washing, preparation and, if it's tossed into the bin, for the hauling of the waste. You lose more than just what you paid.

What's the most expensive place you ever visited?

Kodiak Island in Alaska. I lived there while I was a navigator with the US Coast Guard. Next to nothing is produced on the island. Everything from bread to building materials had to be either flown or shipped in. I remember paying over $5 for a quart of sterilised milk towards the end of a particularly rough weather patch in the winter of 1987. That's when I started drinking coffee black.

Apart from property, what's the most expensive thing you have ever bought?

My education. Between undergraduate and graduate studies, it cost well in excess of $100,000, plus interest on the student loans.

What was your worst job?

In between school and the Coast Guard, I took a night-shift job at a sheet metal fabrication plant. It was dirty and loud, and the pay and hours were awful.

What was your biggest financial mistake?

I lost a significant investment in a large New England bank. I was a young and inexperienced investor who bought shares when the price nosedived, thinking that the institution was too big to fail. It was not.

Are you better off than your parents?

I've earned more. I've spent more. I've made more. I've lost more. In the end, I hope that I've used what I've earned and spent to enrich my life and the lives of others more than my parents were able to afford to.

If you won the Lotto, what would you do with the money?

I would set up a non-profit trust, make sure my family was looked after ... and buy something nice for my wife, Caryn.

If you could design your own euro or dollar note, whose face would you put on it?

Ernest Shackleton and Tom Crean - for the inspiration to hold on to what we have, to use only what is needed, but to also give everything you've got if it is required to save a friend.

Have you ever made an insurance claim?

I'm a disabled man living with multiple sclerosis. I have owned properties which have been damaged and I have had cars which were wrecked or broken-into. I sometimes feel filling out insurance paperwork is my part-time job.

Would you buy property now?

Not until we're done with the year-on-year visa renewal process. Although my wife does important work with people living with autism spectrum disorder, we could at any time be told we can no longer stay in the country. Once that's all settled, we'll likely buy the home we now let.

Do you ever haggle?

I enjoy the banter, but I only haggle if I'm willing to buy more than one thing. If a merchant doesn't have to make his whole profit on one thing, he may be more willing to offer a discount.

What three things would you not be able to do without if you were tightening your belt?

Whatever it takes to keep our two wheaten terriers, Sadie and Maggie, healthy and happy. A few pints down at O'Flaherty's. And a few packets of seeds to set in the garden.

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