Completely burnt out

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by hookedcook, Aug 31, 2017.

  1. hookedcook

    hookedcook

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    So a very serious question. I know I come on here and make smart ass comments sometime. But understand I respect all of you as fellow chefs. Who has been completely burnt out of the chef life and how did you change it.

    I'm 38 been cooking since I was 14, graduated from Culinary school when I was 20. Worked in Fine dining until 28. Have spent the last 10 years bouncing around on yachts, ski resorts, islands, lodges, ect. I've spent the last 10 years mostly working on yachts in the Caribbean.

    I've been very fortunate in my life and have traveled to some unreal places. I have worked a lot of seasonal jobs in the last 8 years. I work hard, save money and take an average of 4 months off a year. Go to cheap places like SE asia, Indo, phillipines, D.R., South Pacific, South America ect and chill at the beach.

    I'm going on 13 years living outside of the US, 3rd world countries and islands. As a yacht chef when you work, you work and live where you work. The cooking never ends. I have 8 crew and usually 10 guests to cook for all day every day.

    I took my first full time private yacht job 7 months ago. I've been to over 13 countries and islands in the last 10 months. Provisioning can be a nightmare.

    So now for the real part. In the last 3 months I find my self not giving a shit. When everything used to get made from 100% scratch I find myself using packets, boullion instead of scratch stock and salad dressing from jars, ect. Instead of getting up super early for a yacht chefs 15 hour day, I'm baking cinnamon muffins from a tin for an extra hour of sleep.

    I'm beginning to despise food, I only usually eat one meal a day. Sometimes I'll go a day or 2 without eating. I haven't sat down for lunch in 4 months. I'm drinking my rum dinner every night and its getting out of control. I spent 4 months on vacation in Mexico and all over South America this year and didn't eat at one fine dining restaurant. I only go out to eat at a restaurant if a girl is involved. I'm at a weird place in a weird situation.

    The yacht is getting maintaince done for the next 3 months, my job is pretty easy only cooking lunch and dinner for 8 crew. I have other personal ex girl issues coming back to where I grew up to add to the stress. I am basically done, single, have money in the bank and tired. I was drinking yesterday at work and the 1st mate called me out on it. I turned around, walked up to the bridge, and gave the captain my one month resignation( normal in yachting). This boat has been through a lot of chefs and the owners wife really likes me and my cooking. So he basically told me I can't quit. The job is cool, great money, tips/ bonuses, health insurance, one month paid vacation. That's why I think I'm losing it. One comment and 30 seconds later I was quitting a good job. I've been pushing every boundry but can't get fired. In a weird way I wish they would fire me, I'll grab my kite gear and be on the next plane to the D.R. Most chefs are slightly crazy. For the first time in my life, I'm starting to realize I'm officially crazy!
     
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  2. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    I have had a somewhat similar lifestyle chefwise and I used time off to recharge my batteries and achieve balance. I also spent years working in environments where I changed menus on a weekly basis, doing cuisines from all around the world. This helped keep things fresh and intriguing for me.
     
  3. hookedcook

    hookedcook

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    I hear you, I'm lucky and realize that I have opportunities that a lot of chefs don't have. Especially on a yacht catching fresh fish and lobster. Since I meet the boat last march. Costa Rica, Panama, Grand Cayman, Cuba, Dominican Republic, U.S.V.I, B.V.I's, Turks and Caicos, and the Bahamas and now Florida where I grew up. I have no bills and no ties so you can save money. Don't want to come across as a spoiled complainer.

    Something strange has just changed in my head where I'm tired and don't care. It's not fair to the guests or crew. The drinking habit over the last 10 years of being in the Caribbean doesn't help. That what makes me think I'm losing it because the boat is going to the med for the summer. Private only, I like Europe and its a chefs dream. But one bad morning and one comment from a new cocky ass crew member, in 30 seconds I walk up stairs and give my resignation??? It seems the older I get the less I care about work. I have a good reputation in yachting. I have turned down 8 job offers in the last 6 months all by word of mouth. That does have something to do with how little I care about what ever job I have on a yacht. I have a strong work ethic and never screw people over. But the second you give me shit or rub me the wrong way, you are getting my notice with a handshake and a smile. Having no wife, no kids, no house/ apartment, and everything I own can fit in the back of a truck makes it very easy to walk away. And rent a dirt cheap apartment on a beach somewhere with cold beer and tan girls.
     
  4. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    It sounds like a job most of us only dream about, but burn out is burn out, and any job, no matter how glamorous it seems from the outside, can be a source of burn out. Often times, burn out happens because our job is fulfilling us in the ways we need, so I think the first thing to think about is what bothers you about your current situation. Maybe you are just tired of cooking, and dealing with food, or maybe, because of your lifestyle, you are sacrificing things that are more important to you than you realize. Either way, the first step is to sit down, by yourself, do some serious soul searching, and decide what is important to you. Who cares if others think you have the coolest job in the world, that shouldn't even play a part in it, nor should you feel compelled to stay at job, that you are unhappy at, just because you feel that it should make you happy.
     
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  5. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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    You remind me of a couple I know. They were from different parts of the world, met in an exotic locale, got married but traveled as often as they could all over the world and for long periods of time. Then they had a child and as the saying goes, life just got real. They had to cut way down on travel and raise the kid.
    The marriage counselor they ended up going to pointed out that for the first years of their marriage they had distractions through traveling. With the child they were forced to stay in one place, face up to learning about each other but most importantly learn about themselves. They couldn't do it and ended up divorcing.
    In your case, I don't know what all the travel is helping you avoid but I think a clue is found in your statement,
    A friend once told me that life keeps handing you the same lesson over and over until you learn it. Because you are a cook and clearly know your stuff, I don't think the lesson here has anything to do with cooking.
    That cheap apartment on the beach with cold beer and tan girls sounds like either a great vacation or a great excuse to avoid something. I'll leave the analysis up to you.
     
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  6. hookedcook

    hookedcook

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    Thanks. Sounds like I need a psychologist and an AA meeting!! At this point I'm not sure I can function in civilized Western Society. Eventually habits and behaviors make you the person who you are.

    Yachting is an escape and an easy way to avoid normal life and responsibilities. I have almost zero bills, have never owned a smart phone, haven't had a real girlfriend or bought a girl a single gift in 10 years, someone does my laundry and folds my clothes daily, get paid well have zero debt and haven't worried a single minute about money or bills in the last 15 years, travel around the world and do cool shit.

    The last 10 months of my life. Rented an apartment in Mexico for 2 months. Did 3 days of subermisible cage diving with Great White sharks 150 miles off the coast on Guadolupe, kiteboarded, swam with wild sea lions and hiked machu picchu in Peru, stayed in a hut in the Amazon Rainforest caught piranhas and took a 12 hour boat ride into Colombia, stayed in Cartagena for a couple of weeks, went kiteboarding in Northern Brazil, spent a couple of weeks in Rio on Impania, went hang gliding, spent a month in Panama taking the yacht through the panama canal, caught some big fish along the way, a month exploring Cuba, kiteboarded in the DR, other islands. Got back to Florida last week, bought a triumph racebike and am taking it to do some track days this weekend. Not bragging but just giving you an idea of my life. This is a pretty normal year for me.

    I just feel tired now and am getting to a point where I choose to try and quit drinking and living the fast empty life. Maybe try for a wife and kid?? Or I say fu#k it. Take my savings. Move somewhere like the phillipines and waste my life away living like a bad jimmy buffet song?? The sad thing is I'm having a tough time choosing which one
     
  7. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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    For all of that great activity, I have yet to hear a mention of family or friends.
     
  8. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    Why not do both. A friend of mine just did. He retired (not voluntarily) from his second career and is settling down in the PI with his fifth (or soon-to-be sixth) wife. At his age there are no kids in his household and won't be any... but I highly recommend kids since they really enhance one's perspective on life. He speaks very highly of both PI and the ability to live the good life there very affordably.
     
  9. peachcreek

    peachcreek

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    My advice? Figure out a way to shut up your intellectual mind. And listen to your heart. You already know the answers to your own questions. The deal is~ are you wanting to listen.
    Are you up for it?
    Bravery isn't the act. Its the choice.
     
  10. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Interesting post...

    You got one heckuva comfort zone, even your vacations are deeply imbedded in your comfort zone.

    So why are you cooking out of pouches, packets, and cans?
    Humans always rise up to challanges. You can do this constructively ie: spending effort to sorce the best stuff, effort to use the best techniques, effort to use the best plating, and then tommorow you kick it up one more notch.
    Or, you can challenge yourself to do the least amount of work without ant complaints. Cook out of a pouch and the owners wife still loves you. Kick it up a notch and cook out of a pouch when you're sh*tfaced and see if no one complains.

    Whstchyaneed is...
    To get out of your comfort zone.
    Lating
     
  11. drirene

    drirene

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    I am a psychologist.

    You are tired. Get a physical to rule out or treat medical issues.
    You are likely depressed. Depression makes you tired and we drink to self-medicate. But drinking makes it worse. Booze first stimulates, then depresses you. It takes you down. It can take a long time, but it will take you down.
    Get professional help.
    You are docked for 3 months. This is a great recovery opportunity! Use it. Now. Don't waste your time.
    You are worth it.
     
    eloki likes this.
  12. hookedcook

    hookedcook

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    Thanks, I actually made a doctors appointment today. I avoid doctors like other real life things. I'm 38 and can count on one hand how many real doctors I have been to in the last 20 years. They only come for surgery or by ambulance. I don't even know what blood type I am. I've got physicals for my captains license but its a paid doctor that only does that. He asks you if you have any medical issues? No, o.k, 5 minutes, here's your paper and you owe me 150 bucks. I've got some serious circulation issues in my feet and legs from standing in one spot barefoot for 15 hours a day.

    Not sure about depression. White people (I'm white) tend to make up/ label conditions and diseases that only seem to effect rich white people. Kind of like food allergies and gluten intolerance. Trust me as a yacht chef on that one!!!! I don't know if I have a condition or more just a rough patch right now. Everybody in the world gets happy, sad, angry, frustrated, feels love and hate. It's called emotions, its normal. But I do completely understand that the alcohol is not what's best for my mind or body. While it can temporary make me happy and forget life, It's a bad bandaid. When the buzz is gone you feel like shit, physically and mentally
     
  13. drirene

    drirene

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    Did you realize that alcohol can cause depression? Along with what sounds like poor nutrition, loss of interest, Circulation issues.Ouch! And lets not forget burn out. You may need a break. And you're right. Everybody catches something, some time.
    Tell the doc you've been very tired, taking shortcuts. Tell your doc about the drinking and your loss of interest in things. Tell your doc how little you are eating. And make sure to tell your doc about your feet.
    Keep in mind that fatigue, loss of interest, drinking, not eating much are often signs of depression. Paradoxically, you don't have to feel depressed to be depressed!
    And make sure your appointment is with a doc who cares, not one who is burnt out himself...
    Wishing you love.
     
  14. phaedrus

    phaedrus

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    Try not drinking for a month. Best case you'll feel better about life in which case, you'll have an answer. Worst case you'll have bad PAWS or even DTs, and that will give you another answer. When everything in your life is awesome and you're still miserable the problem is probably you.
     
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  15. chefbuba

    chefbuba

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    Get yourself some compression stockings, your feet and legs will feel better. I have been wearing them for years. I also have circulation issues along with severe neuropathy caused from diabetes. I can't work any longer at 56. Get yourself fixed up now and drop the bottle or you will be FUBAR in a few years.
     
  16. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    Swollen legs can be a symptom of congestive heart failure....
    Go see a real doctor (I suggest an internist in Florida) and get it sorted out.

    mimi
     
  17. hookedcook

    hookedcook

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    Thanks again, I figure as a chef I'll get real advice here compared to other places on the internet
     
  18. hookedcook

    hookedcook

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    I can do it for a month, when I was young it was when I did something stupid. Now when I'm older I'll stop when I look in the mirror and don't like who I see. But after what ever time I set, its on again With all my talking, physically, I'm pretty athletic still. 5'11 and 180 # I burned my foot(no shoes) really bad about 20 years ago. There is crazy vericous veins and if I stand for 15+ hour yacht chef days to many weeks in a row I can see and actually feel the blood pooling. I'll go in my cabin for 20 minutes twice a day, elevate it over my head and massage it till the blood starts flowing. Growing up and living on the ocean still diving, kiteboarding, fishing( not really a sport), surfing some. I used to be a semi- pro motorcycle racer in my early to mid 20s. I was at the gym 5 days a week. Best physical and mental time in my life. Just bought a racebike (on the internet, LOL!!!!) an it arrived yesterday. Going back to do some track days after 10 years and see my family this weekend. Hope that its a start to bring my mind back in the right place. Hard to think about anything else when you are going 140 + on a race track. Once again, I don't want to waste anybody's time on a chefs forum and seem like a complainer. Chefs are a rare breed to deal with that life, and as a solo yacht chef I don't know many other chefs
     
  19. mgm0

    mgm0

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    When you share happiness it is multiplied, but when you share misery it is halved. At least that is how i justify my love of complaining to myself. I am not sure where I took it from but must have been some book, pretty sure it was a Doc Smith novel though. The point being get it out, bottled up it will explode.

    Anyway me not good at pep talks but if you are ever around Hong Kong send a message for a beer and some complaining(or milk tea as the case may be).
    And if all else fails try this. 528362128412531463.jpg never fails, promise.
     
  20. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    I think all chefs love a challenge and loved when their career was in the building stages. The years of working and seeing the results of their hard work. Nothing in this business is easy, you earn everything you get. This is why we feel a big sense of accomplishment mastering each level in the the industry. During this time we dream of the day when things slow down and we have a easy gig. It's like a mountain climber climbing a mountain. You work hard over the years to learn how to climb the mountain and you climb smaller mountains to keep you perfecting your skills. Once you have learn everything, you set out to climb the big mountain. You enjoy the climb, get to the top and scream at the top of your lungs, I made it!. What's left! The climb down? I think your in the position that you aren't challenged. You have the glory of the perfect job and one ones watching.
    It's time to get a new position that challenges you again. I think you will look back at this job and realize it may fit into your life at a later date. Right now you need more. You need the challenge and excitement a chef position offers.Tell your boss you need to get reenergized. See if you could work out a deal to return someday.......Good luck.......ChefBillyB
     
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