Being a chef is more than just a job – it’s a vocation. Qualified chefs do not go into this industry light-heartedly; it often encompasses everything they do – they live, sleep and breathe their work.
It is this passion which creates the fiery atmosphere in kitchens across the world. Many believe that the high pressure of a kitchen is integral to the profession, and you will hear a lot of chefs stating that they ‘thrive’ off the intense atmosphere.
But when does the pressure of a kitchen become too much to handle? Some chefs find it impossible to spot the signs, which can lead to burnout and even more significant mental health problems and sadly even suicide.
In this article, I want to share with you my thoughts and experiences of working closely with chefs to help them fulfil their career ambitions – how to spot when a negative company culture is affecting your career, and what to do about it if it is.
Boiling Point in The Industry
Historically, chefs have gone into the profession fully prepared for it to be fast-paced and high-stress, expecting to deal with it to meet their goals.
But as the world is slowly shifting towards a more mindful and considered approach to the effects of stress on our mental health, it is thought that people are being discouraged from joining the chef industry due to its negative reputation in this respect.
It was reported last year in Ireland that the chef shortage has become so pronounced the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) has imported talent from Italy, Croatia and France to address a shortfall of 3,000 chefs across the country.
The industry, in general, is slowly changing – even Gordon Ramsay recently admitted that he has vowed to reduce swearing in the kitchen for one of his television ventures. This is symbolic of a significant change in the cheffing industry – let me explain further.
Changes in the Sector
If you feel overwhelmed by pressure in your job, you’re not alone. It is becoming increasingly common for chefs to say enough is enough when it comes to the difficult working environments they are used to putting up with.
Celebrity chef Jay Rayner in his Guardian article talks about the effects of cheffing on mental health, and how necessary change is coming, slowly but surely. And he isn’t the only one to do so: industry experts Tom Kneale, Andrew Clarke and Selin Kiazam have all raised issues concerning toxic kitchens.
Working in a kitchen can be stressful – it comes with the territory, but the stress should not overcome the enjoyment of your job. When this happens, it is time to ask the question ‘am I really happy here?’
The Profession Vs The Company
Falling out of love with your job can be disheartening for anybody, and even worse in such an all-encompassing career like that of a chef.
Dealing with constant stress levels so high that they become overwhelming does not usually end well. Many times, when I speak to chefs who are looking for a new role, they tell me that they felt they couldn’t go on in their previous place of work – staff shortages, increased demand from customers and lack of support from management are among the more common complaints.
Ask yourself – ‘when did I start feeling like this?’, ‘do I feel supported in my role?’ and ‘do I have a good relationship with my colleagues and my manager?’
If your negative feelings towards your job are stemming from problems within your current role – it might be time to consider your options. From the many clients I work with I can assure you that there are great establishments out there who look out for their employees; if you need help finding a new chef job – we can help with this.
If you have realised that your current place of work is causing you unnecessary stress and is making you turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, then it might be time for a change.
Changing Roles – What Options Are Out There?
Of course, the best way to fix the problem is by changing jobs from a place where you are barely just surviving to one where you can thrive and are supported by your managers, love the work you do and have a better work-life balance.
If you’re a chef looking to leave your current toxic workplace, what options are available to you?
Contact us at KSB to discuss what career choices are available to you, or alternatively, consider the following options-
- If you are a CDP or are just starting out in the industry, and you love hospitality but constantly feel overwhelmed in the kitchen, why not consider a front of house or management role – is it possible to become trained up in a different skill in your current place of work?
- More experienced chefs have the potential to move into training or teaching – this is a great career move for those with at least five years‘ experience in a head or executive chef role.
- Increasingly, we are seeing a range of catering and hospitality staff moving from stressful ‘traditional’ restaurants into contract catering. This kind of work is on the rise [link here to why now is the time to move into contract catering blog] as chefs seek out more structured working hours and a change from the intense pressure of the Brigade de Cuisine.
If you’ve outgrown your current role and are thinking of making a smart career move, get in touch with our consultants today to discuss your cheffing career options and the roles we currently have available.
We are expert recruiters in the catering and hospitality industry, with over 28 years in business placing the best candidates in their perfect roles with obsessive attention to detail.
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