Feeling uncertain in the kitchen.

Joined Sep 7, 2013
hello everyone,

Tonight i reach out to anyone who feels or has felt like i do i right now. I am the head chef of a pretty cool Irish pub. The staff is great. Both foh and boh. Ive been here since Jan. 2014. Ive been cooking in restaurants since 2007.
And I’ve hit this wall. And i think you know where this is going. Ive caught myself losing interest, drive passion.....a dangerous slippery slope.

I’m not sure if its time for a new place and new challenges. Or if its just time for a break/ a bit of mind clearling vacation.
Let me fill you in on where i am at in life. My last “vacation” was oct 2017 where i spent everyday before the morning shift starts in the pub doing orders...march 2018 i suffered a miscarriage too 2 days off and was back into the kitchen for the week of st. Patricks day. Then took the following week off...that involved me being in the pub everyday that week. Now I’m planning a wedding which has been hard to do when he and i are different work schedules. He’s Monday thru friday 7am-5pm and my schedule is everywhere. Ive been lucky with the crew i have i went from 60 hour work weeks to sticking around 45 hours, but I’m not worried to more if need be. Anyways, i am planning a wedding 13 days till...and I’ve lost 3 guys right before my day... I’m trying to make sure all the shifts are covered, and yet i still feel so fucking guilty that I’m getting married in Vegas 4 hours away from my job....taking 4 days to myself, to spend with family and friends.... and all i can think about is what’s going to happen at work. The worse part...I’m back to work that Monday. And i know it’s crazy but i know ill be fielding texts and phone calls all weekend.
I’m not sure if how i feeling is bad or it can be resolved.
I feel suffocated. I feel detached. I don’t know how to motivate myself. There are days when i step on the line and work with a younger guy, that i feel the rush, and the joy and the love...and then other days bogged down with paperwork and phone calls that i feel hatered and anger for it all....and some days, its not so bad...its a mixed emotions about it all.... and I’m afraid that even taking time for myself, may not help. I’m afraid the depression is slipping in... harder then normal... lucky for me I’m not a drinker, not even occasionally, no drugs no smoking...

Has anyone have words of advice for the wall I’ve hit?
Joined May 5, 2010
I have been Executive Chef enough times that this situation has come up during my career.
I understand your situation and offer that the stress of your impending nuptials (congratulations by the way) and work together are causing this.
You say you lost 3 employees already... you got to know that you can not control things that happen, only how you respond to them.
At this point with the wedding only a few days away, the BEST you can hope for is to teach your staff to be there for you.
Make lists, give orders, do the best you can. Try to remember everything for those 4 days.

Now it is plain to see how much you care, or else you wouldn’t be dreading all of this.
Resign yourself to the fact that there will be texts and messages... it is part of being a Chef. You really are “on call” always.
Best of everything to you
Joined Aug 21, 2004
When I hit the wall, it is usually from the result of speeding into the future. When that happens, I bring myself back to the present which breaks things down into doable segments. In the present I can experience clarity of thought and reflect upon what I chose to do...or in some cases, not do.
Joined Mar 1, 2017
First order of business.......delegate, delegate, delegate. You are in charge. You make the decisions. Much of your anxiety is derived from a sense of being out of control which, in turn, creates feelings of dread and stress. These are toxic and they can and will kill even the best of careers. Hence, the high substance abuse and divorce rates in our profession.

You are the head chef. By definition, your job is more administrative than in it is cooking. Embrace it. Love it. Treat it as your spouse and treat your husband as your affair. Trust me. Its how I stayed married for all these years. ;) (Congrats, by the way on your upcoming nuptials).

Your job is phone calls, schedules, payroll, inventory, purchasing, hiring, firing and everything in between. You need a #2 that can actually run the kitchen, oversee the kitchen staff, implement the menu you create and handle other responsibilities.

If you want to last in this business, you have to learn one painfully simple rule: you cannot do it all. This means you must teach yourself the fine art of detachment. Impossible? Right? Wrong. I was the biggest micro manager the world has ever seen. This is because I knew every job in my restaurant from dishwasher on up because I did them all. I thought I knew how to do each job better than everyone else. It ground me down. My wife taught me to let go and trust my people and it did not happen over night. It took time, patience and most importantly, trust. "Trust but, verify" became my standard. After a while, my life became a thousand times less stressful. But, most importantly, I regained my love and enthusiasm.

If you have good people working for you, that will make this task easier. But, you must be brutally honest and impartial when evaluating your staff. Their skills and abilities must be worthy of your trust or else, you are wasting your time. It is essential that you have the sense that you can "let go" for a few days and not return to a smoldering crater where your restaurant used to be. Its irrelevant whether or not you actually "let go" for a few days. What is relevant is knowing that you can. But, this cannot be achieved unless you have a solid staff that you can trust under you that can handle delegation.

After that, you'll figure out the rest. :)

Good luck!

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