It's just not working out

Joined Aug 20, 2015
Here's a scenario:

You are a young aspiring business professional, and you work in the kitchen. You run a small pub in a small town, and you are in total control of your day to day routine. One day you are afforded the opportunity to go work in the big city for a well known chef that owns a few well known restaurants. And despite all of your closest family and wife’s hesitation and level mindedness; your appetite for high caliber cuisine forces you blind, and you accept the job, for less money, and less responsibility.

Come to find out, after one service mind you, that this new job has thrown everything into perspective. Between the longer hours, longer drive, less money, and now inexperience of being in a new atmosphere, you have not only started to question taking this position, but whether you really want to keep working in this industry at all.

So, what do you do?

Like most 25 year olds, ego has been my motivating factor for my entire professional career. I signed up knowingly for this industry of long hours, debilitating physical work, and minimal time at home. My passion for food and a competitive mind state have pushed me well passed most of my home town comrades.

But the industry has started taking a toll on me as of late. Three children and a wonderful woman wait for any opportunity they can to spend with me, most of the time, thoroughly disappointed with the little amount that is. I use to not mind, that ego always pushing my family behind my career. After accepting this most recent role however, I find myself longing to focus less on my career, and more on my life.

I'm less than a week in of course, and maybe some of these thoughts are catastrophic thinking brought on by a discomfort of the new kitchen. Maybe some are due to the fact I wake up at 5 a.m. To leave for a job that is in hour away. Or maybe I'm just burnt out, maybe I'm becoming the cook that I looked at 5 years ago and wondered why they were so lazy. Maybe I'm not cut out for the industry like I thought I was. Maybe it's deeper.

I don't know, I don't want to jump to conclusions. I also don't want to live a nightmare for a period of time until I feel suitable to leave. So what do I do? Am I honest with the chef and tell him sorry but it's not right for me? Do I stick it out and see if things get better? I'm at a cross roads.

I turned the job down originally, then they had offered more money. This is my 4th job in one year. I have moved so much this last year. I'm tired of jumping. But maybe I'm jumping because I'm no longer happy in this industry. My head Is filled with “what ifs.”

Any advice would be much appreciated, and thanks for letting a confused chef vent
Joined Aug 20, 2015
Well, until I took this job, I thought I saw myself back in my hometown, running a concept, either my own or as an executive. Now, I'm not even sure if my heart is still in it.
Joined Oct 31, 2012
We can only provide food for thought to help you to find your own answer, we can't tell you what the right thing is for you to do. I will start by  suggesting you find or make the time to sit down in quiet and think over what you like about the business.

  Many chefs both famous and obscure, have gotten tired of the competitive nature of big city cooking and found other outlets for their efforts. You are not the first or alone. Many on here have done the same. 

     Family, as you noted, are most important. Nothing wrong with prioritizing them. They will be there for you long after the food critics have forgotten about you. There will always be another dinner service to conquer but you can not go back and enjoy your children's young lives over again. 

     As you may have discovered already, good cooking isn't limited to haute cuisine and three star restaurants. There are a multitude of ways to elevate your products  and maximize your efforts wherever you find yourself cooking. Doing your best wherever you find yourself is a more reliable source of satisfaction.  

     Keep in mind too that every job will have drawbacks and disappointments, as well as benefits and successes. The key is finding a balance of both so that you enjoy your daily life in spite  of the shortcomings. Don't beat your self up because it only took you moments to have a personal epiphany. You took advantage of an opportunity and now realize it isn't what you wanted. No harm in that. 

So here are couple of cliches. Life is short. Do what makes you happy. No one on their deathbed ever wished they had spent more time at work. 
Joined Feb 8, 2009
If you don't see cooking in every restaurant as a stepping stone to a bigger stepping stone It's hard to see the whole picture. Most cooks work in this business and get burned out. No restaurant pays enough to put up with the long hrs, working weekends, being away from family and so on. There has to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Even if it's just a flicker of light it's still a light. Each restaurant you work in is a learning experience  to make that light look a bit brighter. If you don't have that light your seeking it will be a dead end. Cooking is a job that you need to feel a sense of accomplishment. Every Chef here has gone through what you are going through. Lost weekends, holidays and missing your family are part of the business. You need to have balance in your life to succeed. The only reason I succeeded as a Chef/Owner was passion. I was good at what I did, I felt a sense of accomplishment. In my case it paid off, in most cases it's doesn't. The pressures of family are always weighing on you and in most cases win. Most will leave this profession and seek out careers that give them time for family and friends. All the Chefs that have worked their profession for years will tell you it was a hard road. There were many hardships along the way. They will also tell you they wouldn't changed a thing and would do it all over again. You may have to step in a bit of shit today to smell the roses of tomorrow.......Chef Bill
Joined May 18, 2007
So... Obviously we've all known another soul that had your predicament. It's a tough spot to be in... Family life vs career etc. Only you can choose that one... I will tell you that I chose both by leaving the career in restaurant / hotel for University Dining services... I.e. Sodexo, Aramark, Compass Group etc. Its a different world, but you don't have to start your life over career wise, and they come with most holidays off, and health benefits for that family. If you want to know more just message me and I'll tell you about what I do.

Chef Solon
Joined Aug 19, 2012
I made family a priority years ago, before having kids and I don't regret it at all. It limited what I could do in the short term, but was worth it in the end. You can't ever have back the opportunity to spend time with your family. Your kid's "firsts" only happen once.

It sounds to me like your family is a bigger priority than your ego. Good for you. Most "true" artists are ego driven and ultimately very selfish. Their accomplishments (and attempts at tgem) are the priority. The time for that is when you're single.

Chef Solon mentions one great alternative to the crazy restaurant hours. You might also try the business and industry food service world or retirement centers. Choose wisely in these sectors. Just like a restaurant, your boss, and the quality of his operation, will ultimately determine your happiness to a much greater degree than your pay will. I've had 100+ hour weeks in college food service too, but I was the "clean up" guy helping turn around bad operations in a district that had been run into the ground. The company I worked for was repeatedly rated as one of the best 50 employers in the country. My experience was anything but, because of my boss and the operations I went into, not because of the company.

Latest posts

Top Bottom