Updated: Oct 30, 2019
Welcome to the 16th installment of Being a Chef Ain't Easy; where every Wednesday I explain everything that it takes to be a Chef in my eyes. This series will by no means be exhaustive, but I will certainly do my best. If you're a Chef and want to share your opinion I'd love to hear what you have to say. Aspiring Chefs: if you have questions feel free to reach out. I'm always looking for an excuse to talk about Chef Life.
Ok, so far in this series we have covered the importance of Passion as well as a commitment to quality in regards to your effort, a commitment to food quality, Menu planning, Temperature control, The Ability to Pass on Knowledge, Building a Recipe, Leadership, High-Level Communication, Cost Control, Roasting, The Ability to Handle Pressure , Patience & Morale . This week we are going to cover a topic that has been getting a lot of attention as of late and that I have been struggling with personally and that is Stress Management.
Whether you're in the industry working the line each day, are the Chef concerting the group or follow this blog regularly at this point I imagine its become pretty clear that between the heat, the time expectations, the money, the food, the guests and the coworkers; kitchen life is a uniquely stressful environment. What most don't consider is due to the time restraints of working in a kitchen it often leaves little time for stress relief. Unfortunately, due to our working hours it leaves a perfect opportunity to partake in some pretty harmful coping mechanisms most commonly in the form of drugs and alcohol.
As of 126 days ago I made the decision to live a sober lifestyle which has really shed some light on some of my bad habits in the past. Namely, I loved me a drink or twelve preferably in the form a a tall stout, porter or IPA and a shot of Jameson. This is a common outing ritual in our industry if not worse.
It's very important that a Chef develops a healthy coping strategy to deal with the unique stressors of the kitchen environment. This allows you to view difficult situations with a clear head and really stay in tune with your team.
There are any number of positive coping mechanisms whether it be weight lifting, playing video games, running, painting, drawing, wood working and so many more. Personally, I'm a big fan of practicing martial arts, particularly Jiu-Jitsu. Jiu-Jitsu helps keep your mind clear, keeps you humble, forces you to stay creative and gives you another outsource for any excess energy you somehow found.
Our industry has over worked and mentally abused our peers for centuries. For far too long this aspect of the business has been largely ignored and in-fact suggested that we should just "suck it up and deal with it." This mentality has led to far too many suicides to continue with our current view of how mental health should be addressed in our industry.
So please, take the time to find yourself a passion outside of the kitchen that can act as a decompressing action for you.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living. By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7. suicidepreventionlifeline.org
Before you go I'm going to ask a favor; I want to hear what you think. If you think I don't know what I'm talking about say so, heck share it with your friends and say "look at this guy calling himself a Chef, he has no idea what he's talking about." If you agree let me know, share it with your friends, you know how we like to see that other Chefs see the world similar to ourselves, get a good laugh out of it.
Are you an Executive Chef, Sous Chef or talented line-cook looking for a cooking job near you that can give you a spring board into entrepreneurship? Visit https://www.digestthepassion.com/chef-setup to request information to join our Network of Personal Chefs and please don't forget to follow our Facebook Page!