No breaks in this biz

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Joined Oct 29, 2012
Why is the restaurant biz the only one where you never get more than a five minute break? 10 hours straight on your feet and you gulp down your dinner standing up like a horse. Every place I've ever worked has been like this. And if you try to carve out 15 or 20 minutes to sit down and eat (like every other job in the world), then everyone looks at you like you have 2 heads. The only exceptions were 1) a place where we all had staff meal together at 4:30, but we gulped it down standing up and 2) a place where we all had staff meal after we cleaned the line at the end of the shift. But that's not really a break, since it occurs after the shift.

I reiterate the question, why the macho, no break bullsh**t?
 
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Joined May 5, 2010
It all depends on what facet of the restaurant world you are referring to.

There are many places that give you a 15 minute break every four hours and 30 minutes in an 8 hour shift.
You just haven't found one of them.
 
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Joined Jun 27, 2012
Not just the food and beverage industry.....
Try working the labor and delivery unit at a county hospital.
Or better yet...the ED at the same place on a Saturday nite.
Your break starts when the new shift relieves you and you get to sit down and chart for a couple more hours.
You either learn to live with it or move on to a desk job and sell insurance.

mimi
 
97
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Joined Oct 29, 2012
Not just the food and beverage industry.....
Try working the labor and delivery unit at a county hospital.
Or better yet...the ED at the same place on a Saturday nite.
Your break starts when the new shift relieves you and you get to sit down and chart for a couple more hours.
You either learn to live with it or move on to a desk job and sell insurance.

mimi
I appreciate the perspective, but two wrongs don't really make a right, do they?
 
97
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Joined Oct 29, 2012
It all depends on what facet of the restaurant world you are referring to.

There are many places that give you a 15 minute break every four hours and 30 minutes in an 8 hour shift.
You just haven't found one of them.
I'm talking about cooking at mom and pop restaurants and corporate ones too.
 
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Joined Feb 8, 2009
Being a cook in a restaurant is like being in a relay race with you being the only one running. You hand off the baton to yourself after each leg of the race. What I mean by this is, when you start work your to busy prepping, then you hand off the baton to yourself to work the front line for dinner. When dinner is over you hand the baton back to yourself so you can clean up and get the Hell out. When you look at your night, the only logical time to take a break is 4 hours into your shift. This is the busiest time of your shift. All my crews never wanted to eat after the dinner rush, they wanted to clean up and get out. Most jobs don't have a peak time in the business. A cook is always in motion, they're never sitting around waiting for something to happen. You see, you are not replaceable. Well! your not replaceable until you screw up and someone replaces you. The best way I could get my cooks a break was for me to stand in for them. The Chef should make sure his/her crew are taken care of. I know what you mean about the dirty looks when you walk out of the kitchen to sit and eat. The other cooks look down on you thinking " Must be nice ". The culture in the kitchen has been like this for years. I worked in the business for over 30 years and never took breaks. It was always to busy to enjoy a meal anyway.......The best..........ChefBillyB
 
97
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Joined Oct 29, 2012
Being a cook in a restaurant is like being in a relay race with you being the only one running. You hand off the baton to yourself after each leg of the race. What I mean by this is, when you start work your to busy prepping, then you hand off the baton to yourself to work the front line for dinner. When dinner is over you hand the baton back to yourself so you can clean up and get the Hell out. When you look at your night, the only logical time to take a break is 4 hours into your shift. This is the busiest time of your shift. All my crews never wanted to eat after the dinner rush, they wanted to clean up and get out. Most jobs don't have a peak time in the business. A cook is always in motion, they're never sitting around waiting for something to happen. You see, you are not replaceable. Well! your not replaceable until you screw up and someone replaces you. The best way I could get my cooks a break was for me to stand in for them. The Chef should make sure his/her crew are taken care of. I know what you mean about the dirty looks when you walk out of the kitchen to sit and eat. The other cooks look down on you thinking " Must be nice ". The culture in the kitchen has been like this for years. I worked in the business for over 30 years and never took breaks. It was always to busy to enjoy a meal anyway.......The best..........ChefBillyB
Well said ChefBilly
 
97
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Joined Oct 29, 2012
Why not come to work half an hour earlier than normal and when you are done prepping and your station is perfectly set up at 4:30, you sit down and have a sandwich for 15 or 20 minutes? Does this approach make me a whiney baby? Or is it just basic human needs? Maybe you are different than me, but I would prefer to work 8, 9, 10, 11 hours with a break in the middle, rather than srraight through. Let's cut all the macho restaurant culture b.s. and get real.
 
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Joined Aug 21, 2004
In 40+ years in the biz, I have worked only one place where the entire staff would sit down at a communal table for pre-shift family dinner. I don't remember a lot places that I worked at, but 34 years later I do remember that one! :~)
 
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Joined Oct 10, 2005
Virtually every Hotel I've worked in had a staff room/cafeteria, and every restaurant I've worked in had nothing to offer except for a milk crate beside the back door. So you might say those are contributing factors.

Since about 3 years now, I've been getting trouble with my lower back. I found (the hard way...) that with a regime of evening and morning stretches, if I park my butt every 3 hours for 5 mins, I have a pretty good day. Doesn't have to be a break, could be ordering, costing, recipie research, whatever. But my back makes its case very clear: no 5 min. rests, it goes on strike.

Here's the point of this post: I've been working in kitchens since 1982, have consumed more meals leaning up against a wall than I have sitting down, and typically spend 12-14 hrs on my feet. What the doctors and Chiropractors have told me is because of this, my hamstrings have shrunk which causes my lower back to get sore. Daily stretching sessions of 10 mins every mirning and evening, plus short breaks every few hours allow me to work the 12 hour days. Eh, its not a bad thing, a p.i.ta., yes, but if I do things right there's no back pain and no stupid pills to take either.
 
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Joined Feb 8, 2009
I forgot a few things! When interviewing for a cooks position make sure there is always a Bacon container above the grill. In most cases this is the cooks meal. always make 6 shrimp on a 5 shrimp order. Notice there are always fries left in the bowl after putting a portion on the plate. When the Prime rib comes out of the oven the pieces that stick to the wire rack are fair game. When getting your pop from the bartender the olives are always a welcome treat. If the Chef ever asks you why your broiling a Lobster tail when there isn't an order for one. Just tell him it smelled a bit off and your checking for freshness. After all Chef you don't want us serving spoiled food. The Prime rib is a no brainer, two pieces of bread and a thin slice of prime rib while walking to and from the walk-in refer. It may take a bit longer in the summer because the walk-in refer is the go to air conditioned room for the cooks.......Admit it! you can all relate.......Be happy we love what we do.......ChefBillyB
 
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Joined Jun 27, 2012
Have been following your (oops I meant your "friend's") thread re the catastrophic thawing of meat.
Sounds like you might be happier with that desk job selling insurance.

mimi
 
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Joined Feb 17, 2010
I started in this business in 1980, to this day I still gulp my food down, even while having a leisurely meal out. I feel perfectly comfortable at home standing over the sink or garbage can eating a snack or sandwich.
This all stems from not having break time all these years. Break time consisted of a milk crate and a cigarette out by the dumpster a couple times a day.

Like cheflayne I only worked in one place that had a family meal, and another that had a "scheduled " break, it was a union house but if things were too busy you didn't take it.
This is the restaurant business.
 
4,769
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Joined Aug 21, 2004
Why not come to work half an hour earlier than normal and when you are done prepping and your station is perfectly set up at 4:30, you sit down and have a sandwich for 15 or 20 minutes?
Have you approached a boss with this idea?

I'm talking about cooking at mom and pop restaurants and corporate ones too.
A lot of mom and pop restaurants and corporate ones, have hours of operation that are... open first thing in the morning/close at end of evening.

They have customers throughout the day. Imagine that you were one of the customers on your lunch break, only you were not a macho restaurant culture b.s. veteran, instead you were joe average with no insight into the industry, how would you feel upon hearing that the cook would start on your order in 20 minutes after he finished eating his sandwich?
 
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Joined Oct 29, 2012
In most restaurants there is at least one worker that can cover for you. Then after your break the other guy can take his. Also, just want to mention that I have no problem sitting on a milk crate by the back door.
 
97
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Joined Oct 29, 2012
Cheflayne, I have proposed this at a couple places with greater or lessor success. Regardless, the restaurant culture is such that u can feel u are getting branded a wimp.

If taking 15 minutes in the middle of a 10 hour shift is a big deal, then...

But that's 80% of the restaurants out there.
 
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pete

Moderator
Staff member
4,509
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Joined Oct 7, 2001
Why is the restaurant biz the only one where you never get more than a five minute break? 10 hours straight on your feet and you gulp down your dinner standing up like a horse. Every place I've ever worked has been like this. And if you try to carve out 15 or 20 minutes to sit down and eat (like every other job in the world), then everyone looks at you like you have 2 heads. The only exceptions were 1) a place where we all had staff meal together at 4:30, but we gulped it down standing up and 2) a place where we all had staff meal after we cleaned the line at the end of the shift. But that's not really a break, since it occurs after the shift.

I reiterate the question, why the macho, no break bullsh**t?
The other side to this, as pointed out above, how many other jobs do you have where you can pretty much eat on the owner's dime. Even places that don't offer a family meal. Sure that often means grabbing a few fries, throwing together a sandwich, making up a quick, little salad, etc. And there were plenty of places that I worked where the owner didn't have a problem with cooks grabbing a higher cost item, occasionally, if we didn't abuse it. Then there were always the smoke breaks. Even if we couldn't find the time to eat, we always found a way to get in a few smoke breaks. Sure, there aren't any scheduled breaks, and it is often impossible to carve out 20-30 minutes for a sit down meal, but we always found a way to get a couple of breaks in, expect for the craziest days.
 
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Joined Jun 8, 2017
Once in a while at work I can make a quick bite if it's slow enough. It's always standing up though. I kind of like not having breaks because it gives me less time to think. Plus, I feel like I always need to be doing something at work. The restaurant I work at we're allowed to take home dinner, and occasionally an alcoholic drink. Also, smoke breaks when there is another cook to cover. It's not for everyone. I guess if you were a personal chef it might be a little different?
 

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