Too much Work in the kitchen getting in the way of personal relationships?

Joined Jan 7, 2011
surely I am not the only one who is having this problem. I am 25 years old and recently engaged to the love of my life. I am also the Sous Chef at a locally owned restaurant. After years of line cooking and banquet cooking, this has been my first position as Sous. Needless to say, I am there ALL DAY  EVERY DAY. I think anyone who takes on this responsibility is essentially "married" to their job. It has just been difficult lately , because my Fiance complains that I'm "never around" or "always working". Which, of course is true, but I was just wondering if anyone else has had this problem before, and I am looking for any sort of advice to help her understand why I do what I do. Thanks for any advice. I'm just trying to learn the balance between home life and kitchen life. Is there any??
Joined May 5, 2010
 "I was just wondering if anyone else has had this problem before, and I am looking for any sort of advice to help her understand why I do what I do." 

This situation is something that has been around before G-D.

You are not alone by any stretch of the imagination.

Your situation causes marriages to break up, causes drug addiction, alcoholism, adultery, sickness, and the list goes on.

The best advice we can give you is to sit down with your Fiance and talk about it.

Do not wait until it gets to fester and becomes a problem.

People who work in our industry realize what they are getting in to and make it work for them.

Not every couple can handle it and they have to be of the right mind in order to make it work out.

Every relationship is unique and only the 2 of you can make the decision that is best for you.

Don't wait, it will only get worse.
Joined Dec 8, 2010
Tell her to quit her job and get her a server position. :p  More seriously, though, this is the way it is: no time for relationships, family, &c.--no holidays, weekends, dates. Probably the most common complaint I hear in the kitchen is that we don't see our significant others at all; we just collapse in bed next to them when we get home late, and often have to get back up before they wake up.


Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
The above advice seems kind of doom and gloom, but I have to agree.  It's a hard life and it takes a "special" someone to understand it.  Just like many people are not up to the task of being a cop's spouse or a military spouse, many people aren't cut out to be a chef's spouse, that's why many chefs I know are divorced.  Its hard, but you need to help her understand what you do and why you do it.  Then she will either need to be "on board" or not.  Luckily, I married someone who was in the hotel business and worked crazy hours like me so she understood.  I hate to say it, but if she doesn't come to understand and accept what you do, you will eventually be forced to choose between the restaurant world and her.  Luckily, there are plenty of food related jobs beyond the restaurant world.
Joined Sep 8, 2003
As depressing as it sounds, I think Pete's right.    She's going to have to understand or you're going to have to find another job within the food industry or elsewhere.  I used to bartend, and I don't think I could have been married back then to someone who's job was in the real world ;  it's just too different.  Having the cafe/catering business is time consuming enough, but we'd been together a long while when I started this and my kids were in high school and college. And speaking of families, I should  get home to mine...

Good luck!
Joined Apr 3, 2011
Yes, we've all been through this.  My outlook is this.  You two are going to be together for the rest of your lives, right?  Take the time to focus on your career so when you're in your later years you can enjoy success while having a 25 year old running around like a bastard doing everything.  Sound familiar?  Ask her to politely suck it up and go from there.  She'll understand if you put it like that.
Joined Mar 18, 2011
I have to agree with most of what has been said. I spent all of my younger years in my career single, or in relationships with people who also worked in restaurants. Its a brutal schedule, you don't make much money, and its really high stress.

How I got around it? I married someone who is in the biz. He understands what it takes to make it in this world.
Joined Dec 16, 2010
i have the most understanding and patient girfriend in the world.

she's also a FOH manager at a restaurant downtown.  so we both have horrible schedules.

the one thing that we've vowed to hold sacred is our day off: monday.   no work talk, get stuff done for the house (groceries, errands, bills, etc.) then we always go out to eat and spend the rest of the night at home.  employees, co-workers, partners all know not to call on a monday unless something is horribly wrong. 

monday is our day.
Joined Jan 7, 2011
thanks everyone. All good outlooks. I like the monday no work -talk and spending the evening together. I'll have to work out something like that. I also like the idea of telling co-workers not to call unless something is terribly wrong. haha.
Joined Jul 28, 2001

  Make sure she is your best friend before you commit.

You have to be very disciplined  focussing on her  when you're off. You need to spend more time

involving yourself what she is doing.You have to be doubly attentive. Leave the job at work. Put aside a small amount of time each

day to sit and chat, no laptop, no TV just a coffee or tea. Make it the same time each day, but don't miss.

You have to put a carrot on the end of the stick. Make plans to do something together, big or small, doesn't matter. She will get bored if

she has nothing to look forward to doing with you.

  Your post tells me you care which is great.

My wife and I are going 26 yrs married and spend 24/7 together. God bless her!

Joined Apr 28, 2003
Ultimately who ever decided to enter a relationship with someone who works restaurants regardless of that person's position in the kitchen hierarchy, he/she must accept the fact that it is a demanding job that'll suck away a lot of personal time.  Same goes with family.  Its no different with doctors, service men/women, self-employed, and a number of other professions. 

Only thing you can do is make good on what little time you do have to spend with each other.  Its easy to say, not so easy to do.  People who does a 9-5 job in their comfy cubicle doesn't get that we're on our feet 6am-8pm running around, handling raw meat, in the sizzling heat, cutting our fingers, burning our arms, getting yelled at while yelling ourselves...its a physical and emotional roller-coaster day to day but we love it.  Its rare for white collar business types to understand this let alone tolerate the consequences of it in a relationship.  Its only easy of your significant other has or is doing the exact same thing mind you that'll open up a different can of worms.
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Joined Jan 13, 2011
The best advise I can give is, when you tell her you're going to do something with her, whether it be go to the grocery store, yard work or take her out...DO IT!!!!! and DO NOT talk about work unless she asks. Even if she asks, tell her you would rather spend your day with her and no work involved
Joined Apr 3, 2010
Don't try and explain this business to someone who has not done it or has not  been in it.  All they will do is shake their heads and stare at you. Some will sy "NO WAY"
Joined Feb 8, 2009
I wish I could tell you things get better, but they don't. If she thinks it bad now, wait until shes home alone with two kids screaming. You need to sit down, over a glass of wine and lay it on the table just what this job is all about. I wouldn't paint a pretty picture, explain the true reality of this business, she's either in, or out. If you decide you don't want to loose her for your career then look into our positions in this field that gives you weekends off and home by 5PM. There are food service management companies that you could work with to accomplish your career and still have a family.............The Restaurant business is a work hard, party hard business, most relationships don't last, I know of very few that did........................ChefBillyB............P.S.......Married 33 years, boy could she tell you some stories, I couldn't begin to tell you mine. Keyword "Balance"
Joined Apr 29, 2011
I am also new to the forum. Culinary school is necessary because I am not a genius to the cook.

Beside the skill, the equipment is also very important.

So I will also know to choose the good one for me for perfect food. :D
Joined May 22, 2010
Billy got lucky, methinks.

My path had very different results... my former wife is now my best friend. I used to have a house, a garage, a yard and a dog, now I live in a 2-room apartment.

Most of my friends gave up on me. As for partying hard? No. Not me. When I'm not here... I go home, paint, draw, play my banjo, work on my motorcycle. If you want to "party hard"... knock yourself out. I've lost count of how many of my former peers have succumbed to alcoholism, drug addiction, stress related issues. Yeah, it's a work hard business, but I've done my best to distance myself from the "party-harders." I have no intentions of being a 250 pound, whiskey soaked a$$hole in my later years in this business... there's enough of them out there already.

But, my hard worked paid off in a manner of speaking. I climbed the ladder in the industry fast... I was always the first in, last out. Showed up to learn on my days off, did every job thrown at me...  Personally, I think I effed up my priorities, but I set my feet down the path, and there's no turning back at this point.
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Joined Jun 14, 2002
Try scheduling some time together, even at the restaurant. Had a boss once where his girl would join us for family meal every now and then. Relationship's are investments just like careers, gotta put stuff in to get stuff out.

Be thankful that you aren't a cop or soldier. Similar issues, plus the stress on her of not knowing if you're going to die on the job. It's a real relationship killer.

Agree that you two should sit down and make sure goals are in sync. Don't tell her to suck it up, even euphemistically. I don't see that conversation ending well, lol

P.S. Nooner. You're the boss (kinda), spend an extra hour 'checking inventory'
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