Hey Team! Im a Pastry Chef & Chef - Im building a business helping chefs prevent burn out and create healthier positive lives - all feedback welcomed!

7
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Joined Mar 5, 2021
Hey Chef Talk Family!

How are we doing today?

Before we get stuck in a little background on me,
I have been a Pastry chef and chef for 10+ years, trained in London and worked mainly in Patisseries, Michelin star kitchens & 5 star hotels
I love our industry. Seen, felt and experienced the whole nine yards from the super highs of the tail end of the "old school" era and the super lows of the violence and abuse throughout the kitchen life that we as chefs see day in day out 100+ hours a week. fast forward to 2018 i opened a restaurant and severely Burnt out and tried overdosing and ultimate attempting suicide because there was "no way out". this was the wake up call that enough was enough. we hear all too often about chefs dying and overdosing and we think no it'll never happen to us or in our peers we cant show emotion because its perceived as weak. well it blindsided me and I ended up in hospital for 4 weeks.
This post is not about me though and I am not a victim.

Since then I've stayed within the industry I felt I needed to help people and work with people I cared about helping such as the health and wellbeing of chefs so I trained as a Personal Trainer and Nutrition coach. Our industry has been hit massively due to Covid-19 and suicide rates in our industry are at an all time high. There is a stigma around mental health in our industry. and it needs to reset so we can create a better positive culture within the industry. This is where my purpose comes in, I aim to help as many chefs as I can coaching online and in person. I want to reach as many chefs as I can and build a positive community to show its ok to not be ok and create coaching to help them take on adversity and provide a game plan weekly checking in on progress. Both physically and mentally create and form positive habits and kick all the bad habits that we as chefs know happens all to often. create longevity and help chefs stay long term in the industry and ultimately save themselves from self destruction. If I can Help chefs and Potentially Save Lives through this then that's a big Win against this problem our industry faces.

This is a way of life and I want to gauge with you what your thoughts and feedback are on this wherever you are in the world and what problems you may be facing, so I can gauge a consensus of the current pressing issues worldwide.

thank you for your time I know it was a long one.

love you all and I welcome all opinions.

T.
 
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Joined Feb 8, 2009
IMHO, There are many many reason why burn out happens. What I have seen with the Chef I knew worked long hours because they were afraid not to. Many Chefs run kitchens having full control. They don't give up the power because they are afraid of losing that power. In other words if the kitchen runs smooth and others see this they may wonder why they need a Chef. They don't look at it that the Chef is delegating, they see things being done well without them. The other thing is, no matter how good a Chef does, they are really just doing their jobs. You were paid for doing a good job don't expect to be patted on the back every day on the way out. Most of the Chefs I knew were good cooks that became Chefs. They weren't good Managers, they weren't good at Managing themselves.
The Chef is most comfortable in the kitchen. This is where they belong, this is where they are in full control. Take all this and throw some drugs and alcohol at it and it becomes unbearable to keep up the pace at work and home. Both places suffer, your back is against the wall, nothing is fun anymore.......Welcome to the world of the Chef where everything we do has to be done 100% right every time. There are no do overs.......ChefBillyB
 
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Joined Mar 5, 2021
Thank you chef for your message.
as I agree with you on most points, it is possible for chefs to not go down the road of excessive drink and drugs to band aid any pains. This is why I’m wanting to create my coaching because as all chefs we still belong in the kitchen in some way or another and don’t see any other way most of the time. I know I’ve been there but if I can help chefs see that they can still stay in their element by tweaking some structure in their lives and creating a positive mindset and teach how to adapt to their ever changing environments in a positive way. For their mental/physical health and form good habits.
wouldn’t that be beneficial for our industry as a whole ?


Thank you for your message chef
 
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Joined May 5, 2010
IMHO

"Tail end of the Old School era...." Seems to me that's it is still alive and kicking.
Our industry has never been the shining beacon of the employment world. It was and still is a combination of many different types of personalities.
Burnout happens in all industries for all reasons.
I myself burned out, but had the inner motivation to find my niche in the restaurant world that made me stay...(happy is not an adjective we use in the kitchen)
I wish you luck...many Chefs are not motivated to share their feelings
 
2,476
761
Joined Feb 8, 2009
I got out of the craziness of the Hotel and Restaurant industry early in my career. I went into first Health care and then Corp Employee Cafe's and Corp Catering. I formed my out Food Service Management company. By doing this I had a more normal was of working in this Business while still getting the satisfaction of doing what I love. I was able to still be creative in my craft and not hav etc work crazy hours. This was the structure that let me have my cake and eat it too.
That being said, My Employees and their lack of commitment to their jobs made things difficult. I gave my employees everything I could with higher wages, time off when needed, Health ins, vacation pay and so on. I had one employee that worked for me for about five years. I saw that her attitude was getting bad. I asked her what was going on, nothing really changed for that to happen. She said to me, I can't quit, you got me right where you want me. I asked her what she meant, her answer was, I can't quit because i need the health Insurance. I didn't have an answer for this, I thought it would be viewed asa benefit that helped her.
My recommendation to any Chef thats burned out in the local Restaurant or Hotel food service industry is to get out. There are many Upscale assisted living Chef jobs that will let them exercise their skills. There are also Hospital and Corp Cafes that will also do the same.
The Restaurant Business will never change. The pressure will always be there. The Chef has to meet the numbers while working with a crew that doesn't show up or care all that much when they are at work. It's not easy to be 100% seven days a week all year long. It's the nature of the beast. If you can't do it, they will find someone who can. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. The bottom line is all that counts, You and your life doesn't matter.....
 
2
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Joined Feb 16, 2021
Hey Chef Talk Family!

How are we doing today?

Before we get stuck in a little background on me,
I have been a Pastry chef and chef for 10+ years, trained in London and worked mainly in Patisseries, Michelin star kitchens & 5 star hotels
I love our industry. Seen, felt and experienced the whole nine yards from the super highs of the tail end of the "old school" era and the super lows of the violence and abuse throughout the kitchen life that we as chefs see day in day out 100+ hours a week. fast forward to 2018 i opened a restaurant and severely Burnt out and tried overdosing and ultimate attempting suicide because there was "no way out". this was the wake up call that enough was enough. we hear all too often about chefs dying and overdosing and we think no it'll never happen to us or in our peers we cant show emotion because its perceived as weak. well it blindsided me and I ended up in hospital for 4 weeks.
This post is not about me though and I am not a victim.

Since then I've stayed within the industry I felt I needed to help people and work with people I cared about helping such as the health and wellbeing of chefs so I trained as a Personal Trainer and Nutrition coach. Our industry has been hit massively due to Covid-19 and suicide rates in our industry are at an all time high. There is a stigma around mental health in our industry. and it needs to reset so we can create a better positive culture within the industry. This is where my purpose comes in, I aim to help as many chefs as I can coaching online and in person. I want to reach as many chefs as I can and build a positive community to show its ok to not be ok and create coaching to help them take on adversity and provide a game plan weekly checking in on progress. Both physically and mentally create and form positive habits and kick all the bad habits that we as chefs know happens all to often. create longevity and help chefs stay long term in the industry and ultimately save themselves from self destruction. If I can Help chefs and Potentially Save Lives through this then that's a big Win against this problem our industry faces.

This is a way of life and I want to gauge with you what your thoughts and feedback are on this wherever you are in the world and what problems you may be facing, so I can gauge a consensus of the current pressing issues worldwide.

thank you for your time I know it was a long one.

love you all and I welcome all opinions.

T.
Sounds like a good cause. I have been in the industry for 20 years and I will be 40 this year. I just think I made a mistake entering that world, and now I feel insecure if I am fit for anything. I got fired 6 times in 6 years since I came to Denmark, mostly backstabbed at younger chefs. My fault was because I was taking chef's positions (not sous or higher) and when confronting chefs when trash-talking or giving constructive feedback on the food or models of preparation, I became a threat. Not to mention how stupid I felt when asking something and being answered like I am some kind of a schmuck. Toxic culture in general, and deserves everything that is happening now.
In a toxic culture, one person expresses an idea, and the others attack that person, not the idea.
That is a kitchen in the nutshell.
 
2
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Joined Feb 16, 2021
I got out of the craziness of the Hotel and Restaurant industry early in my career. I went into first Health care and then Corp Employee Cafe's and Corp Catering. I formed my out Food Service Management company. By doing this I had a more normal was of working in this Business while still getting the satisfaction of doing what I love. I was able to still be creative in my craft and not hav etc work crazy hours. This was the structure that let me have my cake and eat it too.
That being said, My Employees and their lack of commitment to their jobs made things difficult. I gave my employees everything I could with higher wages, time off when needed, Health ins, vacation pay and so on. I had one employee that worked for me for about five years. I saw that her attitude was getting bad. I asked her what was going on, nothing really changed for that to happen. She said to me, I can't quit, you got me right where you want me. I asked her what she meant, her answer was, I can't quit because i need the health Insurance. I didn't have an answer for this, I thought it would be viewed asa benefit that helped her.
My recommendation to any Chef thats burned out in the local Restaurant or Hotel food service industry is to get out. There are many Upscale assisted living Chef jobs that will let them exercise their skills. There are also Hospital and Corp Cafes that will also do the same.
The Restaurant Business will never change. The pressure will always be there. The Chef has to meet the numbers while working with a crew that doesn't show up or care all that much when they are at work. It's not easy to be 100% seven days a week all year long. It's the nature of the beast. If you can't do it, they will find someone who can. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. The bottom line is all that counts, You and your life doesn't matter.....
Hey Billy. Great post. Thanks for sharing. Let's get connected on Linkedin.
I got over the edge and now with family life it is impossible to work, and I feel not motivated by the kitchen mentality for the last 10 years now. Let's hit the base any time soon and grab an e-coffee to chat. Here is my CV with info so feel free to reach out via mail or Linkedin.
 

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Joined Mar 5, 2021
Hey guys

thank you for sharing,
All great points and I hear you on all parts.
When I say tail end of the old school era .... you are correct in that it is still alive and kicking. From my part of the industry and my experience living in London it started to fade Ofcourse there will always be these types of kitchens, and I don’t have a problem with the Escoffier brigade system myself as far as the exact system meaning but my version of the term of the old school era is the violence toward chefs if they make a mistake or being locked in the walk in freezer because they went down in service it’s completely wrong. the latter did not happen to me but to a friend of mine.

Correct burn out happens in all industries but that doesn’t mean it’s ok. what I’ve seen with fellow colleagues killing themselves overdosing and hanging because they couldn’t find a way out, that is what’s wrong.
that is why I want to create this safe space for chefs to be able to open up and get vulnerable to create a community where they shouldn’t be shamed by other chefs just because “thats the way the industry is” its total rubbish. Especially as men we should be able to connect and learn from one another who have faced problems or addictions and grow from eachothers experience. That is the reason I want to create this, not for self gain. Only For helping chefs of any age or race that it’s ok to talk about things and not bottle in your emotions and it’s ok to take time out to focus on our mental health so that we can come back to our world that is the kitchen with a mindset that breeds positive action and wellness. So we can thrive as an industry together.

I will get negative flack about doing this because I’m “young” but I don’t care what age we are or I am, creating this space will help many a chef connect and find the right person of relatability so that we can grow together and fight this stigma our industry has about mental health.

let’s build together and grow together
And bring a whole new meaning to the term “one team one dream”

if anyone reads this thread and wants to reach out to me for a chat I’m here for you. My Facebook is below.
thanks guys once again all input is welcomed and appreciated.

Personal profile Facebook
 
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Joined Oct 10, 2005
Like many others, Ive been in the kitchen since the early '80's and Im still working in one now.

Burn out, substance abuse, and suicide are not exclusive to the hospitality industry. ( entertainment industry, anyone ?) What is exclusive to the hospitality industry in N.America however, is the lack of qualifications. This really needs to be addressed if you want to tackle issues of sustainable pay, pay discrepancies between servers and cooks, incompetent owners/ managers/ supervisors, and working conditions.
 
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Joined Mar 5, 2021
Like many others, Ive been in the kitchen since the early '80's and Im still working in one now.

Burn out, substance abuse, and suicide are not exclusive to the hospitality industry. ( entertainment industry, anyone ?) What is exclusive to the hospitality industry in N.America however, is the lack of qualifications. This really needs to be addressed if you want to tackle issues of sustainable pay, pay discrepancies between servers and cooks, incompetent owners/ managers/ supervisors, and working conditions.
Hi.
Thank you for your message
No one said that it was exclusive to our industry, and because it’s in other industries doesn’t mean it’s ok for our one. this is the exact reason and many more why we need to shift the mindset of “that’s just the way it is” and “other industries it happens” to create more chefs wanting to stay in the kitchens. creating a culture that actually benefits health rather than becoming detrimental.
Thank you for your message
 
5,503
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Joined Oct 10, 2005
Ummm, I for one dont have a " thats just the way it is" look on things.

I guess the point Im trying to make is that substance abuse and suicide are a by- product and possibly compounded by the abnormally low wages in the hospitality industry.

While I celebrate the fact that you want to address substance abuse and mental health in the hospitality industry, it is still " taboo" to get a decent dialogue going with any level of gov't to address or even acknowledge that there are:
no qualifications in our trade, wich translate into shi*t wages, servers walking off with $3-500 in tips every night,

culinary schools with no clue on how to design a curriculum with no qualifications to base it on.

owners with no clue on how to run a food service business basically taking a big steaming dump on every worker they hire.

Again, I feel that anyone with mental health or substance abuse issues should have support. However, those in the hospitality industry need support to earn a living wage before they can tackle the other. issues.

Regards,
Foodpump
 
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Joined Mar 5, 2021
Hey Foodpump,

I wasn’t calling you out for that.
I agree with you on all parts. I’m talking in a general sense of our industry

now for context I’m from the uk so I know in the US chefs have it worse as far as pay. I now live in New Zealand and they have very much taken the attitude towards our industry as the US has, so I 1000% agree wages need to change.

you raise some decent points. So I thank you for your feedback it’s helping me a lot with how I build this movement as far as a global stand point.

thank you chef
 
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