Does EVERYONE smoke?

Joined Jan 26, 2001
Hi all. I wanted to know how many people in the kitchens you work in do not smoke. I feel like every time I take a break, I either have to go to a place other than where my co-workers are, or just sit and breathe in smoke. I really just have a very low tolerance for it, it makes me cough and feel crappy, it's not a moral issue or anything.

So two questions: is it a typical case where most people will smoke on every single break? I guess I'm trying to know if most restaurant kitchens have a majority of smokers working there.

And how else can I get to know people if they smoke every time they aren't working?

Just blowing off some smoke, (ha ha)
Joined Dec 12, 2000
I know quite a few people that I work with are smokers, but the staff are not allowed to smoke indoors, so it's not that big of a problem for me personally, besides after September 10/01, unless a restaurant or bar has a proper ventilation system or a self serve smoking room, it's strictly no smoking across the board in BC. (WCB regulation).
Joined Oct 12, 1999
The kitchen in which I work, about 50% of the employees smoke. They have to go to a designated area outside to smoke. I don't smoke, never saw any interest in it, but it hasen't bothered me in any way, since I'm not around it.
Joined Jan 1, 2001
In many pro kitchens that I've worked in we were often so busy that if you didn't smoke, it was difficult to get away to take a 5-10 minute break. I remember on numerous occasions working for a solid 10 hour stretch without any kind of break-eating lunch while working, drinking many cups of coffee while always on the fly. Smokers seem to have an easy out--- "Chef, I'm going to take a smoke break" "Okay, back in 5, right?"
I started smoking just to get the break, but never enjoyed it much. Thankfully, it never became a habit and my choice of food vocations is now more conducive to healthy living.
Joined Dec 15, 1999
I'm not a big smoker my self(exept baby back ribs, duck breast, salmons, sausages etc.) But smoking once in ashile I'll say onething. A cook is one the most andrenalin inducing jobs i know(execpt diffusing bombs in the army...). And nicotine and andrenalin work very well together. It gives a sort of sharpness very helpfull in a kitchen.

But personelly I thinkg that smoking through work in a kitchen is nonproffesional it takes away your pallate and your nose. Now guys! this are the tools of the trade, they're more important than knives and cuttinmg boards or any gadget. How can you cook with fifty percent of your tasting abilities blocked? That's drunk driving for me. A smoke after a busy crazy shift just before cleanup is great but otherwise - Be Proffesional.
Joined Jan 12, 2001
i agree....smoking kills your sense of taste and most people that i've worked with that are heavy smokers tend to over-salt and over-season as a result. this ***** .

to answer your question....most restaurants i've worked in, it's probably about a 50-50 split smokers to non, but i think this is changing as more people take the job seriously, and less restaurants allow smoking on the job.

the last few places i've worked have been strictly non-smoking in the dining room, and accordingly for the staff. no smoke breaks. period. this is during a sometimes 15 hour shift. the management was unbending. you need nicotine? get a patch. so that's what some did. others just got irritable and hard to work with. i like this policy and encourage it. i don't like to smell cigarette smoke as a diner in a restaurant, and i don't like to smell it on a cook who's just come back from a smoke break.

also, like foodnfoto said, smokers always seem to get lots of little breaks throughout the day while us non-smokers just keep working. this never seemed very fair to me. why should you get to go outside for 5 or 10 minutes just because you have a bad habit that you want to partake in?

personally i think it should be treated just like any other bad habit... you're not allowed to drink on the job are you? or smoke pot? or do coke? so do it on the sly and don't get caught....or don't do it! it doesn't belong in the kitchen or the dining room, so do it in your free time.

the days of looking back into a kitchen and seeing the cook with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth are over! i welcome this new professionalism.


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Joined Oct 5, 2001
In every place I worked I was typically the minority because I did not smoke. There is little you can do, and if you think it is bad here, go over to a country like Greece or Italy and everyone smokes. :)
The one thing that really bothers me about smokers is the smell and flavor of nicotine and tobacco that is on their fingers when they are done. Unless they really wash their hands well a smoker imparts some pretty nasty stuff to the food. Along with that it also really screws up your tastebuds. To me it is the same as drinking coffee or coke while you are cooking, you just don't do it. Keep your palate clean...
Joined Jan 5, 2001
I am of the 10% who doesn't smoke at work. I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who feels that smokers tend to overseason. People at work take offense when I say it. With 90% against me on this one, it's an argument I try not to pick... Whenever I eat at the restaurant, I find that the food is good but the saltiness gets to me after a while (the third bite or so) and if I finish my meal, I get a headache.

I never really thought about it, but you are right: smokers do take so many small breaks whereas I work my 10-11 hour shift straight, every single day. Hmm... This IS unfair! Thank goodness they have to go outside to smoke...
Joined Jan 5, 2001
I've worked in many kitchens throughout the midwest, and worked with dozens of chefs through ACF fundraising and benefit dinners, and my observation is:
Almost ALL chefs and/or long term kitchen workers have one or more of the following traits, chain smoking
heavy drinking
illegal drugs
unbeleivable caffeine consumption

I've met many who suffer from all four, plus others too numerous to mention. I have gone through stages of each, and settled on the caffiene consumption. Yes, it rips me when I've been sweating for twelve hours and the smoker guys take a break every hour or more, but I also rose through the ranks quicker because I busted my butt more, too.
In my current position, no employees ae allowed to smoke while on duty, and nowhere on the property, so it cuts down on the smokers quickly. It also makes it quite tough to hire line cooks!
Joined Nov 17, 2000
At one local restaurant, the staff is usually hanging around the back door (which is off the parking lot) smoking. Unfortunately, the dumpster is also beside that door. This restaurant has flies year round--I think they live in the decorations! We no longer go there.
When I first started in teaching over 20 years ago, you could find the teachers lounge by sniffing the air in the hallway. Smoke was so thick in there that you couldn't see the far wall from the door. As a nonsmoker, this made for an unpleasant place to be for my prep hour. And it also separated me from most of the staff. Now smoking is off limits on campus, period. If they would only make the public not smoke outside the door at ballgames, I would not have to smell it when I sell tickets!
It's a strange world, folks. :D
Joined Jan 26, 2001
I think I made a point yesterday night. It was kind of slow, so I headed outside after the line cooks came in from smoking, and told the guy in charge that I was going outside to NOT smoke. (I emphasized the not). I then proceeded to sit for five blissful minutes, and put my feet up on a dish carton. It certainly isn't fair that they get to go outside so often, so I have decided that as long as I have everything done, I get breaks too!

Of course, I live in a college town and next week is graduation week, and I doubt any of us will be getting any sort of breaks this next week!

Joined Jun 7, 2000
I used to smoke a pack a day of high tar cigs.... i have recently given up since feb 1st this year <insert YAYS here>. I started smoking when i was a first year apprentice chef. All the chefs/kitchen hands smoked... It was a busy kitchen and the only way u got a break was to smoke! lol ...
In the kitchen i run now about 95% of the total staff smoke..
It was hard to give it up (and still is) if your thinking about starting dont!
Joined Apr 17, 2001
I work in a restaurant where everyone smokes. The worst part is there isn't even a designated smoking area. The DINING ROOM MANAGAER was smoking a cigarette while she was making a salad! I almost walked out of the job right there. I pride myself on being a professional and that has got to be the most unprofessional thing I have ever seen. I have discussed this with the owners and they just don't seem to care. This place doesn't even have a non-smoking section in the dining room. Personally, I would rather the waitresses go outside to smoke than do it right in my kitchen. Also, I quit almost a year ago and I agree 100% that smoking and cooking is like drunk driving, what a clever analogy!
Joined Nov 15, 2000
Seems all the younger lab techs smoke,but none of my fellow instructors in our department smoke. I smoked for years and quit when I was pregnant with my first child. I never picked up a pack again. For years, I would have a craving for one when I was angry or when I just finished a big meal.I would even dream about smoking.I have never given in. When I quit though, I began to really taste food very intensely. I think it does affect how one adjusts the seasoning of food. I used less salt and could identify ingredients in dishes more readly as well.
My experience is that every where I have ever worked in the restaurant business, majority of the people smoked. I think the 90% figure is right on in my experience.
From the very beginning, I notice that unfairly , the smoker students tend to take more "restroom" breaks during lab classes (they go outside to smoke) whereas the ones who don't smoke do not.

:rolleyes: :( :)
Joined Nov 26, 2000
It is true. Im allowed to take breaks at my discretion too, but I just dont. I dont have a nasty habit constantly pulling me away from work. When I do occasionally take a break I will have to spend it breathing smoke if I want to sit.

The thing that really bugs me is that workers are only allowed to smoke in 2 designated places---BUT, they just so happen to be the only 2 places we are allowed to EAT also. Way to ruin the best part of the day!!

I hate to sound extreme, but I don't see how anyone could smoke and NOT be inconsiderate of others sometimes.

Joined Nov 19, 1999
I smoke, but do it outside and ALWAYS pick up my butts. I think people who throw cigarette butts all over the place are really rude. They look disgusting!
Joined Nov 17, 2000
Good for you! You should see the front lawn around the entrance to our school the morning after a game. Like a fresh snow! :D
Joined Nov 19, 1999
I can imagine, Sandy. The outside of our sorority looks the same way every morning. No wonder the housekeeper is so mean! :D


Joined Nov 24, 2000
I smoke BUT I decided not to smoke at work
period.It's fair and gives my lungs a break.
The only problem I have is that I am a majority of one.There is nothing more discusting than turning around into a cloud
of some server blowing ciggie #15 into my face,even though I smoke too.I have no problem with a smoke free kitchen - Even if it hurts.****, who has time to **** in smoke on a so called "Break" I'm just glad for some air.Bill
Joined Apr 24, 2001
Just last week I was joking with the floor manager that the only thing I've ever smoked was duck and fish. I can see how smoking destroys one's sense of smell and taste. There are some chefs who prefer that their cooks also dispense with sodas, particularly coca cola, believing that that also interfere's with the senses.

The management at the restaurant where I worked frequently patrolled the staff entrance where most folks went to sneak smokes while clocked in. So the staff found a new place to smoke: The staff bathrooom. I couldn't tell you how pissed off I became as the bathroom is near the pastry station. So I tipped off the management and am now smoke-free for the time being.

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