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It’s no joke that cheffing is one of the hardest jobs anyone can do. A culture of long, stressful hours, incredibly demanding physical and mental labor plus hot kitchen conditions are there to truly test your character. Becoming a great chef is arguably as difficult as becoming a great sportsman. There’s a reason that professional kitchen teams are called ‘brigades,’ and have a militarized structure. Keeping up with the demands of a kitchen can take everything out of you, no matter how much energy you start the day with.
It’s difficult to start a grassroots campaign to encourage the industry to change its ways and become easier to work in. It has a culture of hard work because good chefs are like that, perfectionists, required to work multiple services in a day, and available to prepare beforehand. You shouldn’t expect this to change anytime soon.
However, what you can do is pay attention to yourself. It’s tempting for a chef entering the industry for the first time to be completely gung-ho about their working hours, striving to take too many in an attempt to impress their bosses. Great work ethic is always commendable, but ensure your health comes first. This will allow your mental faculties to remain as sharp as they need to be to remain successful in that world.
This list will help any passionate starter chef take an intelligent approach to maintaining themselves, even after a 14-hour shift.
It can be tempting to burn the candle at both ends as a chef. The largely social nature of the industry, coupled with the bar that greets you directly at the end of your shift, it’s easy to fall into a cycle of staying out late and getting little sleep for your next shift. This can become a cycle. Alcohol by itself will limit your sleep quality, so the effects are doubled.
Over the short-term, this can be a drag on your system. It can rob you of the energy you have for your job, and the willingness to better yourself within the trade. Ensure you get plenty of hours of sleep each week. Due to the demands the job has on your body, you may even need more than 8 hours. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t have fun, you absolutely should do to blow off steam in the right way. You should just be twice as a mindful as your sleep requirements. It’s been proven that lack of sleep has the same effect as mild intoxication at a certain point.
You wouldn’t turn up to work drunk, so why turn up to work without being fully rested? Your body and mind will graciously thank you.
In a chef role, you’ll be on your feet for long periods. You may not even be able to sit down during your breaks. You should absolutely invest in the most comfortable shoes you can. Croc’s are usually industry standard and widely praised among chefs. Just be sure that whatever shoes you buy are insulated, slip resistant, and ideally steel-toe capped. Safety is just as important as comfort. An accident in the kitchen can be disastrous. Make sure your toes are shielded from falling knives or plates, and you’re not in danger of slipping over yourself.
Limit Your Vices
This isn’t necessarily remove your vices. This is limit your vices. The nature of your trade will call for caffeine and a beer every now and then. It’s natural. However, it’s unfortunately an uncomfortable reality that chef’s often resort to large amounts of drugs and alcohol in order to make it through the days. This can become a problem in the long term, and coupled with the stressful nature of the job, can break people who started off strong.
Many chef’s smoke due to the relaxing effects of cigarettes and the fact breaks are scheduled for the employee to do so. However, you can be healthier here. Finding a great E-Cigarette through a website like http://www.electricsmokercenter.com/ will help mitigate your health risks and keep you productive in the job for longer. It will also help remove the carcinogens that can ruin your body when smoking. Also, never touch drugs. They might seem like a good idea when you’re in the party mindset after a successful service, but it’s objectively never worth doing so.
You’re a chef. One of the benefits of this coveted position is that you have access to great food. Ask if you can pay to make the most of the stock for your meals. You may even be provided a free meal depending on how cool your head chef is. If not, make sure you bring healthy, wholesome and nutritious meals to work. Due to how much you move during your job, there’s a chance that you’ll need a higher caloric intake to keep yourself full for longer, and stop yourself losing weight due to stress.
Get plenty of high-quality vegetables, vitamins and minerals, alongside supplementing with fish oil and a multivitamin. You also should supplement with Vitamin D3, because it’s common for chefs to work in basement kitchens with little natural sunlight. You need to provide your body with what it’s missing.
As a chef, you’re going to have days that absolutely wear you out. There’ll be days when a pushy customer will return a meal three times despite there being absolutely nothing wrong with it. There’ll be days where your head chef tests your patience. There’ll be days where the front of house team will mess up their order staggering duties, and you’ll receive so many tickets at once that you’ll go into superhuman mode to get them all done. With all this negative external stimulus, it’s easy to lose your faith in why you started.
Keep yourself inspired and motivated. Follow great food blogs, and chef’s on Instagram. Read the life stories of great chefs, such as the great book ‘Kitchen Confidential’ by Anthony Bourdain. Watch food documentaries that will enthuse your passion for food.
Above all, enjoy yourself. This job is hard, demanding, stressful and crazy at times. But when you complete a great service or get that promotion, you’ll receive a feeling hard to attain in other jobs.
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Good luck in your search,