Can't Stop Thinking About Work - Is this normal in a chef?

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by Chefrickymia, Jan 31, 2018.

  1. Chefrickymia

    Chefrickymia

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    Hi im new to here and wondering if this normal.
    Im a sous chef at a hot restaurant in my city.
    I dream about being at work almost every night. I work about 70 hours a week and when i get home i drink. After a 6 pack or a couple bottles of wine w.e that nights poison was i start creating dishes, drawing out plates, pairing flavors with seasons with textures with colors. When i lay down i cant sleep still thinking of these dishes, will they work can i add, subtract, substitute ext. All night my mind stuck on this. Is this normal or do i need to find a hobby or something else to keep my mind entertained with? I feel like the only thing on my mind at all times is food and i dont know if its good or bad
     
  2. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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    I think for a new chef it is pretty normal BUT, I would cut out the drink after getting home. I do think having hobbies and interests outside of work are healthy so working out, hiking, painting, etc help you be a balanced chef.
     
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  3. frankie007

    frankie007

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    +1. We are in a job that can be all consuming but 6 pack every night is a sure path to health problems and burn out. To take the punishing hours and stress of our job it is better to be healthy. I speak from experience
     
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  4. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    It might be normal for a chef (it is for me) but what the hell do I know about normal?...I am a chef!!! :~)
     
  5. someday

    someday

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    Yes it's normal to think about work when you aren't there.

    Please try and cut down on your drinking. A couple of bottles of wine or a 6 pack a day is a lot, and it will only get worse if you continue. It can and will start affecting your work (even if you are in denial about it) and it's not good for your career. Fastest way to sink a promising career is to drink or do drugs to excess.
     
  6. peachcreek

    peachcreek

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    Something I was told a long time ago. Believe it if you want to.
    It goes that there are three types of chefs in the world. Those that drank. Those that did drugs. And the ones that don't know how to cook.
    Peachcreek
     
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  7. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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    @peachcreek I don't believe it and I find that a terrible thing to promote. Especially if you are someone like me who has witnessed a family member destroy themselves through alcohol. One of the first chef's I worked for destroyed his life and career because he was a complete alcoholic. There are many chefs who don't drink heavily or do drugs that are actually outstanding chefs.

    To get the thread back on track I would like to suggest that when you love what you do it is normal to think about it a lot. Enjoy the passion you have for your craft and share that with others on your team. It can be a great motivator.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2018
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  8. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    Balance in your life is key to being successful at home and at work. In your case your not only thinking about work your also worrying about it. You need to have confidence in yourself and the dishes you master and present to your customers. Now for balance, find time outside of work with family, friends and hobbies. If you have to work on some menus and dishes at home then make it fun, don't make it a chore. The problem with being Chef is, we worked so hard to get here it's in our mind all the time. We work so many hours a day that it's always on our mind. We need to get outside interests to replace thinking about work.......ChefBillyB
     
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  9. someday

    someday

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    That's really, really stupid.
     
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  10. peachcreek

    peachcreek

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    Chefrickmia,

    The only question you have to ask yourself is are you happy? I don't know about others who chat here but to be honest when I was a 20something I lived your life. I lived to work. I lived to create. I tried to cram as much experience into my day as I could. Then I stayed up and talked about food and so on. Drank. Smoked tons of weed. Nothing different. After a while I got tired of only working and began to take breaks. I aged out of bar and drinking life. How can I tell you how to live your life? All I can ever say to you is 'May you love your life. May you be happy. May your life journey lead to the best version of yourself.'
    I've cooked for 42 years? I get stressed at the notion I only have maybe 40 years more left.
    Namaste,
    Peachcreek
     
  11. mgm0

    mgm0

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    Since you are into drinking how about drinking nicer things? You are spending some money into quantity how about investing that into quality instead? Who knows it might lead to a hobby and would be better for you in the long run. Make it an experience instead of routine.

    Ps. If you don't like whiskey, try something from Islay. I recently did and it made a believer out of me.
     
  12. panini

    panini

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    Personally, I’ll use the excuse that I’m an experienced old fart and take the liberty to be forward and frank.

    You seem to have a complete understanding of this thinking pattern you’ve created for yourself. This leads me to believe, this has been happening for a while.

    You, my friend, are an alcoholic!

    Yes! You need a hobby. You only have one hobby of choice. That choice is to carry your butt to any type of treatment environment every time you leave work and before you go home.
    Your post reads like a neon sign! Forget all the fuzzy stuff, you are messing around with the science that is in control of your brain.
    There are two schools of thought involved.
    One involves the use of a moderate amount of alcohol can induce one's creative thinking. (You drink, create a dish.)

    The other, is that alcohol is scientifically proven to radically impair you working memory. This is the most destructive nature of your current thought pattern. By impairing your working memory, you sever your analytical thinking. You lose the ability to focus. Your brain can not control all the peripheral information. You can’t incrementally narrow your path to reach your goal.
    (“When i lay down i cant sleep still thinking of these dishes, will they work can i add, subtract, substitute ext. All night my mind stuck on this.”)

    You keep up this pattern long enough and you can impart damage, both physically and mentally, that can possibly last a lifetime.
    Yea, there are drunk chefs that can be successfully creative. There are also some artists, writers, etc. The numbers are small. Creativity is not like a baseball player, there are no naturals, there’s work involved during the creative process. More than likely, they struggled with their working memory, alcohol appeared as a medication, and their brains were matured enough to handle it.
    Your post confirms, your brain is still maturing. The odds of handling this pattern are against you.
    Yea, I know. A lot of negative minutia.

    There is a huge positive here! You’re obviously intelligent enough to recognize your situation.
    I can’t come up with the name of a successful/productive alcoholic. I can instantly start rattling off a long list of people I personally knew who destroyed their lives and careers following your current pattern.

    From the heart, been there. Please, FIX IT, FIX IT NOW, FIX IT TODAY. Don’t procrastinate. I strongly disagree with others, this is not something you’ll grow, or mature out of it.

    You’re smart, and apparently creative. Don’t waste those gifts, they’re precious. Fix it and move forward.

    I sincerely wish you the best of luck with this.
     
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  13. sgmchef

    sgmchef

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    Hi Chef,

    It is both good and bad. Passion is driving your mind which is good, but the alcohol fuel is the bad part.

    Been there. I feel so lucky that I was able to label that part of my life as a phase I went through instead of becoming an Alcoholic. Mid-20's? I took the path of mgm0s advice to you. Cut back on the volume, increase the quality, and put those taste buds and your mind to good use. Tasting every wine on the wine list is a real good idea for creating complementary dishes, but don't do this in one or two nights! You are the Sous Chef, ask the Bar manager what he wants to move and create something to pair it with.

    Good Luck!
     
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  14. hookedcook

    hookedcook

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    I like and resprect paninis views. But as a chef, rum gets me through the charter
     
  15. panini

    panini

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    @hookedcook, The last thing i want to do is come across as some sort of anti, holy roller, etc. I have nothing against alcohol at all. I drink my fair share of alcohol related products. My son and I even brew beer and wine at home. My reason for responding to a post such as the OP. is two-fold.
    Disclaimer: Through my many, many years on earth, I have experiences an unnatural amount of loss. If I can relate to a topic, I just feel the need to speak up.
    1st. Considering alcohol, it sometimes crosses the line from flavor to medication and can lead to loss. I personally think that can be corrected.
    2nd. The amount of loss I've experienced that is not correctable is the hardest to understand and wrap my hands around. I don't have the opportunity to speak up. My best friend (a term I use for 2 people) and I, take a trip to Washington every year and spend at least 2 days speaking with old friends.
    I'm not some public proponent or spend any time speaking about alcohol abuse or anything like that. I've hit rock bottom in this industry twice.
    Never been judgmental.
    So, @hookedcook , I get you my friend.
     
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  16. sgsvirgil

    sgsvirgil

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    I made it 40+ years in the culinary world; 32 of them spent owning my own eatery. I sold it last Spring and the wife and I just got back from traveling.

    If you were my Sous, I would give you this advice to be appreciated in the following orde:

    1. Never stop thinking about food. When you stop thinking about food, you stop being a chef;
    2. Get rid of the beer and cut back to one or two glasses of really good wine a night;
    3. You are a chef which means you are married to what you do. Treat your wife as if she were your mistress and your relationship will always be new and exciting. I can't tell you how many great restaurants I've seen over the years shudder their doors because of a divorce;
    4. Travel. Make it a point to set aside some cash and some time (I know, I know, easier said than done) to take some trips. I was getting some of my greatest inspirations from street food around the world long before doing so was ever "trendy." The best places I have ever been street food wise was Istanbul and Japan. For someone who thinks about food as much as you do, you are always going to need a fresh supply of inspiration to feed your mind;
    5. Last but, not least, make time for yourself. Learn the fine art of detachment and how to create a space that is free of your work. Visit this place regularly. I have known too many good people who burned out too early or had heart problems too young.

    If you follow these simple rules, you will likely have a long and fulfilling career.

    Cheers!
     
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  17. Amsterdammer

    Amsterdammer

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    Thanks for writing, Mr Bordain!
     
  18. kognqk

    kognqk

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    "do i need to find a hobby or something else to keep my mind entertained with?"
    why are you looking for a hobby if you work your hobby is?
    Cooking are CRAFT. What the Craft is ?
    Craft are profession that requires particular skills and knowledge of skilled work .A man / woman busy to make him self skilled enough to be called , Master of this craft. In that case CHEF . To master that aspect of creativity there must be , Vision , expression , sophisticated technique and KNOWLEDGE.
    COOKING are HANDCRAFT based on above things and not only to.
    You are caught up in something like self - defeating misconception , taking alcohol / my be drugs/ part of it has to do with the pleasure center of the brain that the chemicals impact , perhaps making you falsely to believe you are "creative".
    Do you really think August , Pierre , Fernand , have been creative only because were stoned?
    All these kind of real Craftsman put their stamp on Cooking Craft , not because taking alcohol or drugs.
    If you don’t know surnames mentioned , simply stop drinking and get concentrate to educate your self in to the craft you pretend love .instead of drinking, concentrate on educating yourself in the art you pretend to like. and then you will find inspiration and strength. if not, then you are just one of many.
    In my eyes , you are simply Mass production , under Sous chef title. Wrong person on the wrong position .
    Mass production are on the way to erase craftsman / true cooks , many boys /girls out there looking for work , not for a job , rejected on interviews or leave work because of "creativity chefs " like you/ , simply to satisfy imaginary customer preferences based on tv shows , social toilets/ twitter ,insta …etc./ .Today fancy managers called that . Customer satisfaction .
    I think the name of your problem is ANXIETY.
    Go and visited a psychologist