ever feel burnout?

Joined Mar 12, 2001
I'm about to make changes to my usual (and long running) chefs routine of long hours and no time for any other life b/c after 12 years it's just gotten to me and i'm feeling a little resentful of what i'm missing out on . Still have to stay in the food industry b/c it's what i really love.
Do any of you feel like this?
Have any of you made happy transitions to more sociable food jobs?


Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
I think that many chefs are starting to feel the same way as you do. I have been interviewing for jobs for the past few weeks and one thing that I have heard from both chefs and owners is that they now want their people to work 50-55 hours a week for the most part (there will always be those weeks though where you work 70+). These people have finally come to the conclusion that a chef with a happy balanced life is more productive. I am a firm believer in the 10 hour day, 5 day work week. It allows me time to spend with my family. But I am also the first one to offer to work that sixth day if necessary or to work 80+ hours during the holidays or on weeks where we are booked with lots of parties.
Joined Jul 18, 2000
well, this year (or should i say a within one and a half months) providence has played a little hardcore up and down game with me.

Tafe college called me and cancelled until the semester the last prac and theory subjects to finish the course

Gotten over a little personal problem that has dogged me for about 10 years.

Same day, a good friend of mine died suddenly.

Day after, got approved for a home loan

day after that a close family friend died

that was about a week ago.

This weekend, the house of our desires goes to auction and i have to work.

On top of that, the 2nd chef has been on 8 weeks leave.

Consumer confidence is plummetting along with available manhours for the casuals in the kitchen.

Costs need to be cut.

The owner seems to be under the impression that by just buying/owning a cafe/restaurant qualifies you as the best chef that has ever the light of day and that the technical education system is a crock and its output the same.

One casual knows quite a bit about chinese food and by virtue is also the best chef that has ever lived and the other casual is a 286 computer that wont start without a boot up the arse disk.

But atleast the clientele seem to like my food and at the end of the day, that is what matters.

i know what im doing. (what a whinger huh)
Joined Jul 18, 2000
ehh, ive been in the industry for about 6 - 8 years, sometimes things that try your patience occur - i think that at this stage, i have a very good idea as to what a off year is.

As things tend to act in a cyclical way, i feel that down is down, and that up is up.

Not burnt out, but not exactly bursting with enthusiasm.
Joined Mar 6, 2001
I spent my first ten years in this business working with my Mother. We co-owned a successful? (gourmet) catering company. I was sucked into the family business from art school and always resented them not supporting my goals. I worked so much I had no other life or friends. We became so stressed out (making EVERYTHING) from scratch, never saying NO to a customers request while we screamed all day at each other out of frustrations. Eventually the bubble burst big time and I walked out, nothing was worth that amount of sacrafice, it felt like torture everyday!!!

Anyway I was a newly wed and wanted to experience freinds and family for once.I spent 10 years pursuing my dreams (worked as a fine artist). Until I realized what I thought was my chosen career wasen't what I longed for after all. Mom was right all along!

Then I came back to this business 3 years ago and I think it was a great move. I have a whole different out look and a completely different job. I'm now a pastry chef and I feel that's the best position in any kitchen. It's the best hours, most creative, least stressful, most independent, plus I make better money then everyone but the head chef.

So the time away was what I needed in my life to sort things out. I now look at the kitchen MUCH differently! The same might be true for you! It doesn't mean you can't ever come back. ;)
Joined Nov 19, 1999
Hello PollyG, I cook for a sorority house and work a regular forty hour week. I don't suppose it pays nearly as well as what you do, but I'm surely pleased with my paycheck. I've met many cooks at the University who have come there straight from cooking school, and others who haved worked in hotels, restraunts, etc. They all talk of the long hours and prefer the sororities and fraternities because of the long hours they would have to work otherwise. There are other rewards at these jobs, such as Spring break - paid, a month off for Christmas - paid, and the kids make you feel like the best cook in the world. It's wearying work too, but there are so many rewards aside from the paycheck. Just sending a thought your way. Hope you can get some rest somehow :)


Joined Nov 24, 2000
Hey PollyG,
I felt the same way.I took off for about two years and tried to live a normal life.I just can't seem to get used to it so once again I'm back to banging out long days lots of food and dealing with the same old thing.I decided to at least join the Ymca so I can try to work on stress an keep my head clear.
I guess to work in the same industry doing anything but beating yourself up on a line 7 days a week would at least be some sort of a change hopefully for the better but I think
you'll get the "Itch" after a while.I hope you do well.Take Care,Bill
Joined Jan 5, 2001
Burnt out in a big way a few years ago! After 15+ years in the biz, with the last couple running my own place with the partner from ****, I fell into a really cool spotabout 3 1/2 years ago. I'm the Director of Dining Services and Exec Chef at a CAMP! Who would've thunk it. I still work ungodly hours during the spring through fall months, but winter is slower and I'm in the middle of 400 acres of forest and lakes. The best part is that this is like a continual catering job, and everyone comes to my place. Sure the pay isn't fantastic, but the benefits are indescribable. My kids get to have a 300 acre back yard. There are openings for Camp Chefs and FSD's all over the US and the world. In fact, there is a serious shortage of qualified folks in MI right now. I know of at least three camps looking for good food folks! Anyone interested? Let me know! :cool:
Joined Jun 14, 2011
i can DEFINITELY see how that sort of thing can happen. I don't remember the last time i enjoyed a night out on a weekend. every weekend is filled with 10-15 hours shifts. it can relatively relentless at times. The only advice i can offer, is adjust the circumstances of your life to work with it. I married my wife because of how supportive she is to my life. Cooking has always nothing short of my passion, and she know i get a certain amount of enjoyment out of what i do. We don't see each other as much as we'd like to, but the bills are paid, and im finally doing what i love for a chnage. what more can one really ask for?
Joined Aug 29, 2000
This 10-year-old thread is interesting; I'll move it to a better location for all to enjoy.

Joined Dec 8, 1999
campChef, where do you work??? sounds interesting
CampChef made that post 10 years ago and hasn't been around in 5 years, so you probably won't get a reply. A camp in Michigan is the answer, but I'm sure you got that. You can usually catch ads for camp chefs on your area's craigslist in late winter/early spring.
Joined Jul 1, 2014
I'm a 45 year career culinarian, in other words I'm an old foodie. I have anxiety over the long hours and lack of a life. I'm so frustrated cause the money isn't good enough to make up for it. I like carpentry, so I do framing drywall and plumbing to sub my income. I need some advice. I hate that I despise the regiment or the job. Suggestions?
Joined Jan 22, 2013
Last year I was burnt out I literally had to quite my job and take a few months off for my body to feel better. 16 hour days 7 days a week for 8 months.Took a vital tow on me felt like I was going to die everyday.
Then I discovered medical maryjane and feel 120%. Man if it wasn't for the weed I would be face down in pain every night. It's also brought more creativity to my craft.
Joined Aug 22, 2013
Since I started taking my craft seriously about six years ago I've only worked for those hardcore classic European style chefs -you know, the ones who throw hot pans at you or plates in your face if a speck of pepper was on the rim (I literally watched my last chef beat the snot out of a dishwasher mid service for saying 'I've got things to do to', and the chef at a place before that choke out a server on an exposed line for going around the chef and asking garde manger for a side of dressing). Anyways after three years with the company, and two at their newest restaurant which I helped open, I asked for my first day off a week in advance (Wednesday in a slow season/no reso's) so that I could go to marriage counseling. Even said I could still work but would have to come in by six and my chef's reply was "if you can't make your schedule don't bother showing up tomorrow".

No lie.
So I took three weeks off (I had guaranteed work at many other places long before I left) and spent a week of it backpacking, just me and one of my dogs through some remote mountains and lakes. BEST. VACAY. EVER.
So know I'm working again for a pretty chill chef, but now all I want to do is go live in the woods. Long and short of it is I love cooking with the same passion but I'm totally burnt out on humans... Yeah.
Joined Feb 16, 2014
There are jobs you can get in food that don't involve working in the evening all the time.  I am still learning but it is what I am planning to do in a few years.
Joined May 5, 2010
There are jobs you can get in food that don't involve working in the evening all the time.  I am still learning but it is what I am planning to do in a few years.
Sure but that still doesn't get rid of the human factor.

Alaminute, I feel your pain.

I left the mad inhuman noise 15 years ago and have never looked back.
Joined Aug 22, 2013
Thank you chef, I really appreciate the support. I was afraid might have accidentally killed this thread with my depressing tone, I had just wanted to get that stuff off my chest. I'm glad you guys posted :)
Joined May 14, 2014
On some level, I feel like this business depends on people who are willing to put in more. More hours, more effort. A good line cook is always looking for more he can get done; then there's less chance of falling behind later. Or look at the hours chefs put in; lawyer hours for teacher pay. It's a good tendency in that people who will push themselves can make working with them a joy, and there's always more work in a kitchen. It rolls over into a bad tendency when guys from the east coast tell me about mandatory unpaid overtime. When chefs have to open the hotline to save labor, and the corporate guys come down and pile on paperwork and costing problems. When your pantry cook learns the whole line but can't get a raise. When people are hired withvague promises and strung along for years- and they don't wanna squack because they want to show they are committed.
I do this for a living; i work hard, put in the hours when i need to; i know what the job is. But I make sure i'm getting what I need before i walk in, because otherwise they take advantage of you. And it's sad to me to think like that because I don't believe a kitchen can run well unless everyone is willing to do a little extra.
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