Whatever level you’re at, if you’ve worked as a professional chef for any amount of time you are no doubt well aware of how hectic and stressful a job it can be. Long and intense hours can really take it out of you, so it is vital that you get enough downtime.
Striking that work/life balance can be very difficult, especially for ambitious young chefs who want to climb to the very top of their field. However, working too hard can be detrimental to your performance in the kitchen.
Here are four ways you can solve the work/life balance problem.
It’s okay to say ‘no’
Are you often being asked to do extra shifts?
Being flexible enough to help out from time to time is an important attribute of a successful chef, but it’s important that you know that you can also say ‘no’ sometimes. If you’re feeling burned out and need a break, make sure that you take one – you’re not your best version of yourself if you’re burned out.
Many chefs are work-addicts too, if you’re one of those types it’s important to recognise this and ensure you’re taking enough down-time to keep you in tip-top condition in the kitchen.
Think before accepting a new role
The restaurant industry is very competitive, and it can be hard for young chefs to break into it. This might make them feel as though they need to jump at the first opportunity they’re presented with, especially if it appears to be their ‘dream’ job or working with a particular cuisine they’re passionate about or a world-renowned chef.
It is always important to think about any role before you take it, and if the required hours aren’t going to leave you with much free time you need to consider whether you’ll be able to deal with that for the entire time you work there.
Don’t isolate yourself
Professional chefs have a habit of making islands of themselves – working mostly alone even if they’re surrounded by other chefs.
We can’t underestimate the importance of developing strong working relationships with your colleagues throughout your career, and not just if you want to one day open a restaurant with that person.
Not only does this mean having someone who can help you out with tasks in the kitchen, but also someone you can talk to about any frustrations or work-related problems you might be having. This will help you to deal with your job and, as a result, deal better with the work/life balance challenge.
Love what you do
Working as a chef is not a typical 9-to-5 work routine and never will be. With this in mind, you need to love the job.
Working long hours and rarely having a weekend to yourself will be an awful lot harder if you don’t enjoy what you do. A part of striking a better work/life balance is accepting that being a chef is a way of life – at least to a certain extent. If you don’t take satisfaction and enjoyment from working a busy night then you’re possibly in the wrong job. Yet another reason to work hard and strive to secure a job at a great restaurant or working with a cuisine you’re passionate about.