From Our Chefs

Chef Jobs: How to Achieve Work-Life Balance in the Culinary Industry

Yeah, yeah… we’ve heard it all before. The guy at your chef jobs screaming,“if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen!”

chefs working in kitchen chef jobs
Photographer: Michael Browning | Source: Unsplashch

The hustle-grind-never-take-a-day-off toxic “hell’s kitchen” culture is so 90’s! But us? We like to chill. And spend time with family. And friends. And honestly, have time in the day to think outside of the kitchen!

We all got into this industry because of passion. The feeling when someone experiences an explosion of flavors that we created drives us. The fast-paced chaotic world in the back of house excites us. Blood, sweat and (probably) tears went into us refining our craft and creativity experimenting with the culinary arts.

The New Paradigm

With our passion, came dedication. We worked long, hard hours and sacrificed to pursue our dreams. But, one magical day… everything changed.

At College Chefs we service sororities and fraternities. So, we operate on the scholastic schedule. As a result, generally our team is working daytime hours 9-5, with weekends off, as well as paid holiday breaks and full benefits. An extremely unique gig within our industry.

food overlay
Photographer: Madie Hamilton | Source: Unsplash

Collectively, our culture is slowly acknowledging the importance of a holistic approach to wellbeing. Consequently, this approach recognizes the importance of mental health, social connections, physical wellness and wellbeing. We discovered that it actually IS possible to live a healthy balanced lifestyle and continue to do what we love. In fact, the ability to maintain a chef job, creating cool food and super fresh dishes and make it home on time for dinner is our ultimate dream.

Listen, if you’re into busting your ass working in fine dining restaurants- that’s cool! Respect! But for us, escaping the brutal stereotypes in pursuit of a lifestyle with more freedom was important. We’re a band of oddball chefs. The ones who choose to start a family, or get a dog, or spend holidays at home or just really value a full night’s sleep. To create the lifestyle that we’d always dreamed of while pursuing our culinary goals meant we had to think outside the box. Furthermore, we had to reimagine the industry standards and forge our own path.

Feeling burnt out or lost in the sauce? Read on for our tips to achieve a healthier work-life balance at your chef job.

Photographer: Max Delsid | Source: Unsplash

Acknowledge the Reality of Your Chef Jobs

First, it’s important to recognize how overworking is affecting you! According to the Mayo Clinic:

“Fatigue [can impact] your productivity and ability to think clearly. [...] Stress can worsen medical conditions and lead to poor health.”

Therefore, It’s important to check in to see if these consequences are affecting you. Burnout can sneak in and affect us in ways we don’t expect. For this reason, it’s important to take action to protect our wellbeing.

Our Top 4 Action Items to Create More Balance

  1. Boundaries. Schedule your time wisely. Realistically allow yourself enough time to get things done.
  2. Learn how to say “no” It may be the people pleaser inside of us, but we want to take on new challenges! However, cutting out or delegating tasks that are unmanageable can mitigate stress.
  3. Detach. If you’re constantly thinking about work or using technology to connect with work from home, it can feel like you’re always on the job.
  4. Consider you options. Get creative with your career path. Maybe you’ll find that a kitchen in a Sorority House is more fitting than chef jobs in a restaurant… for example ?.
Photographer: Anthony Duran | Source: UnsplashPhotographer: Anthony Duran | Source: Unsplash

4 Ways to Feel Balanced

You don’t have to take our word for it. It’s proven that a more balanced lifestyle can improve your overall well-being.

  1. Connect with family and friends. Mayo Clinic research shows that being social “helps sharpen memory and cognitive skills, increases your sense of happiness and well-being, and may even help you live longer.”
  2. Volunteer. “Volunteering to help others can improve your connections with others, as well as lead to better life satisfaction and lower psychological distress,” Mayo Clinic.
  3. Get creative! Maybe you’re building Legos with your kid, testing a new recipe idea for dinner or doodling away creativity is good for your health! Furthermore, Dr. Morris Stein states that, “Being creative can increase positive emotions, lessen depressive symptoms, reduce stress, decrease anxiety, and even improve immune system functioning.”
  4. Set aside time to relax and recharge your batteries! “Rest is vital for better mental health, increased concentration and memory, a healthier immune system, reduced stress, improved mood and even a better metabolism” (Integris Health).

Only You Know What Works Best For You

The best advice that we can give is to be honest about what’s important to you! Maybe you’re feeling driven to get to the next level in your career. Perhaps it’s a priority that you’re there to see your daughter take her first steps or watch your son’s soccer game. But, maybe you just really need to take a breath after the craziness you’ve faced and that’s okay! Not all career paths look the same; no two chef jobs are exactly alike.

Recognize that once you’re clear on what YOU want and need and stop following the societal rulebook of what you “should” do, you have the power to create a lifestyle that satisfies your needs and ignites inspiration.

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