Burning Out

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by nick.shu, May 17, 2004.

  1. nick.shu

    nick.shu

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    im a little curious about what would comprise burning out in cookery.

    What is the general consensus amongst everybody as to how to call this situation.

    Im kinda feeling something and need to work it out quite quickly.
     
  2. coolj

    coolj

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    Dude, I go through this every once in awhile. What works for me is to take a day off from everything, and just go do me stuff and take as much me time as possible. It might sound selfish but it helps.
     
  3. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    Job burnout in the food industry is no different from burnout in any other industry. You need to take some time for yourself, do the things that you want and for no one else. Burnout destroys your self worth. Both as a person and as a professional. We need to get a life, so to speak.
     
  4. chefboy2160

    chefboy2160

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    I remember in high school we used to call the heavy pot heads burn outs.I always took the term burn out to mean doing the same thing for so long without appropriate brakes in the way you live life.
    Take a hike in a beautiful surrounding ,go fishing,shopping, travel or just do something that youve never done and gives you mindless pleasure.
    Remember, you can not burn out if you keep on adding fuel to the fire.
    Good luck and peace, Doug......................
     
  5. nick.shu

    nick.shu

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    yeah i know i need to look after myself a little better.

    the current situation in a nutshell:

    worked in the prior establishment for a year and a half. Company goes insolvent and there is a 28 day period to work out running costs. Standard kitchen, larder, pans and hot mains section. Bosses and chef are good and kind. One day walk in, and the place is in liquidation. Get offer of work in the smaller place down the road. Fine, can continue income stream. Smaller place has a very strange kitchen setup, where larder and pans calls the mains.

    add to this, a very idiosyncratic style of cookery, and the docket caller having some rather poor communication and people skills (non english speaker).

    Also, gone from place to another without time off, and worked a 70 hour week while still learning the nuances of the menu.

    basically: gone from decent kitchen to a very much smaller one, trying my hardest to learn a new system (including some strange cooking concepts) and menu. oh yeah, and i have to hang in until june when i have my first holiday in 4 years.

    man, that is pretty much why im questioning my sanity and direction in life.

    coolj, chefboy and kuan, thanks for your understanding.
     
  6. dano1

    dano1

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    it comes and goes. As said balance is the key. There have been times where i swore i'd never set foot in a kitchen again-yet it calls me back. I don't think i could handle a "regular" 9to5, 40 hour/week job anymore. Not enough room for lunacy ;).
    hth, danny
     
  7. nick.shu

    nick.shu

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    as i said as above, all imput helps.

    my thanks goes out to all that reply and those that cannot but feel empathy in such a difficult situation for me.

    Its not that i dont wont to continue cooking, its just that it can, from time to time, become a little overwhelming.

    My circumstances are, that i must "pull out my finger" to quote a term and nothing more than that.

    per ardua ad astra.
     
  8. artameates

    artameates

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    isnt it a huge setback to work for bad communicators? And the strange cooking styles are only stranger without explanation. can anyone share advise with this issue?
     
  9. coolj

    coolj

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    Artameates,
    do you mean like working in a "team" situation, where none of the players are on the same page of the play book ??.
     
  10. nick.shu

    nick.shu

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    well, i can give some examples of "strange stuff" in this kitchen.

    When the chicken stock is made, off cuts from approximately 4 kg of chicken breast doubles (around 8# for you guys) are cast into the pot, with some corriander (cilantro), leek offcuts and onions. Mercilessly boiled for about 3 hours (not simmered), skimmed for fat, strained and the chicken pieces are retained for pastas and melts.

    hmm, bit suss you say?

    sauces for filet steak made from brown gravy (packet) mixes.
    crunchy risotto rice
    poor kitchen hygiene

    the chef slaps a burger on the grill, i ask for the setup, only to be greeted by: "why did you put that on the grill for? theres no such docket on order?".

    hmmm.7.5 years schooling training (including an apprenticeship for 4 years), 10 years experience, makes my wonder why i bother sometimes.

    this establishment has a poor reputation for food, and now i know why.

    p.s. coolj, its not a matter of being a team player, more a case of having to set aside everything ive learnt over the last 10 years and relearn it all.
     
  11. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    You need to find something else Nick. See if you can get on the dole for a bit and find something else in the meantime.

    Kuan
     
  12. anneke

    anneke

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    Nick, remember the old serenety prayer? Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

    That's not a prayer just for AA members.

    Look. You are ahead of the game. You know that the restaurant has a bad reputation and you know why. You know that you you are better than this, and that they could do better. That's clarity. With a burn-out, you might not know the difference, and feel like you were a bad cook.

    The question now is, am I capable of accepting the situation for the continuation of my income and benefits? Or, do I take the risk to talk to the owners about an action plan that would turn things around both for the business and for you. Or do you simply cut your losses and leave.

    Whatever you decide, try to separate business from your personal life. Remind yourself that your job only defines who you are when you're at work. This will help you not to take things personally and stay objective. There will always be jobs for good cooks and if you have to leave, then leave. It's all a matter of perspective; if you feel like you're in a deep hole, it makes climbing out very difficult.

    If you're worried about burnout, see a doctor. There are a wide range of symptoms including irritability, fatigue, withdrawal, a sense of paralysis, anger. Some people become workaholics while others spend their days shuffling about without accomplishing anything. Whatever the symptoms, you are simply not yourself.

    Take care of yourself. You have our support.
     
  13. peachcreek

    peachcreek

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    Burnout is just another form of self-loathing. Wake up and take care of yourself. You deserve it. I mean who has it worse- you in your rut with your shovel or your boss who is telling you to dig like mad? Peace and good luck.
     
  14. suzanne

    suzanne

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    Going to a good place with no break and no time to train is hard on a person. Going to a rotten place under those circumstances bites the big one. I know; I've been there.

    Nick, can you get along for a while with no income coming in? If so, start your break NOW, spend the time looking for something worthy of you, and be all set up to start when you're back from your June holiday.
     
  15. cape chef

    cape chef

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    Hey Nick,

    I have no magic wand to wave, although I wish I did.

    I have you in my thoughts and wish you well.

    Do your best to listen to your heart before your head.

    You'll be ok in due time, i'm sure of it.
     
  16. nick.shu

    nick.shu

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    thanks guys, im really touched by your support. my supposition is that im feeling way left of the tracks at the moment, and just trying to get a grip on things.

    the bizzarre thing is that the earlier days seem a little easier than what it is now.

    once again thanks.
     
  17. lins

    lins

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    Nick, My thoughts go out to you!
    I think we all go, or have gone through bad patches in our careers, there is light at the end of the tunnel, you may not see it now but I am sure you will look back in years to come and see this as a learning curve, and maybe even laugh about it!
    The one thing you have to remember, when all around you seems crazy! Self respect, deep down you know what you are capable of, don't let them bring you down!
    Hey I once left a well paid but bad job to be a "school cook" dishing out low quality dinners to 6 year olds, but it gave me time to focus myself!
    When stress is high it's hard to focus, take time for you! good luck and I wish you well!
    If you can afford it, take a break!
     
  18. nick.shu

    nick.shu

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    thanks anneke, but i feel that an action plan would not help in this instance, but i will pay the serenity prayer (im sure that it has another name) .

    suzanne - on the money - however, casualisation of the workplace in Au leaves me and many without alternative sources of income in the hard times (even though apparently it is provided for).

    cape chef - you have been a good friend on this forum for a great many of years and your reply i one that i have been waiting on with its far reaching wisdom.

    Kuan - thanks for the advice. You are outstanding with the fact that you can offer invaluable insights into such situations.

    Many thanks to Coolj, Doug, peachcreek.

    Ive got an idea as to what to do next.
     
  19. ritafajita

    ritafajita

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    I feel for you, Nick.Shu, I really do. I have gone, in the past couple of months, from owning/running my own kitchen to working for one of the most dys***tional establishments I have ever encountered. I don't have a lot of options right now, so I have to put up with it for a while. That's not "burn out". That's just having to put up with BS :D

    You know what is right and good. That doesn't change just because you happen to be currently employed by people who don't seem to know how to do things. Do what you can in the situation to make it the best thing it can be for you, and plan for how you can eventually use the experience to move on to something better.

    Best of luck to you. I know how annoyed you must feel by the whole thing!!

    RF
     
  20. nick.shu

    nick.shu

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    heh, update - strangely enough, im starting to harden up my exterior. I figure that it is only going to be approx 3-4 weeks until my holiday. Hours have been reduced to realistic levels (first week and 2 days there = 98hrs no days off and now 35-40 hours)

    im thinking that my original post was a trite bit moany. However, with all of the related stresses at the time, it is easy to note that, in hindsight of course, that i may of made a potentially poor choice. But given the choice between an outcome that may not be acceptable to one that is and may lead to even more desperation, i pause to think that in the end, given the limited choices that i had at the time, i came up with the best possible outcome at that stage.

    At least now, iam in position to be able to choose my next job at leisure.

    Once again, i thank for your invaluable support.