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It takes a great deal of passion and guts to pursue a culinary career. If you’re currently working your way up the food chain, chances are you enjoy the rush of a busy service along with the thrill of prepping and plating up delectable dishes to create smiles for miles throughout your restaurant.

But as much as you may love the role of Master Chef, no Chef wants to spend every waking minute of their day in the kitchen. It’s more than likely you have a wide variety of other ambitions and interests that have nothing to do with crafting the greatest pasta sauce or a perfect souffle. 

Top tips for Chefs to strike the perfect work life balance

For many chefs, it’s challenging to keep up with other passions and commitments as well as their careers. In some cases, that can mean they don’t spend enough time with friends and family, or pursuing their hobbies. We share our top tips to help you strike the perfect work-life balance:

1. Too many hours is just as bad as too little

Although 40 hours per week may not be feasible in the kitchen, neither is 60 hours or more.  The good news is that by implementing a time management strategy, you can plan and organise your schedule to give yourself enough flexibility to step away from the heat in the kitchen every now and again.

To manage your time effectively, you should aim to track down where your time goes by keeping a running record of day-to-day activities in the kitchen. This record should be maintained for a minimum of one week, and using a time record sheet for this purpose can be a helpful indicator. Analyse the activities and make a note of whether the specified activity is:

  • A duty only you can do: The menu planning is usually done by the executive chef, who is also responsible for hiring the new recruits into the kitchen.

  • A responsibility that you can delegate - at least in part: Briefing a junior colleagueas to how to prepare a dish for a VIP guest and then letting him prepare the dish.

  • A responsibility that you can delegate – entirely: The daily receiving of goods that can be checked by someone else. .

  • An unnecessary activity – it can be eliminated: A chef can do away with preparing fresh pasta

  • An activity that might best be handled by another section of the kitchen: The various cuts of meat are usually handled by the butchery and not by the kitchen.

2. Without balance, the career you're passionate about will begin to taste like a job

We often see the old adage broadcasted throughout every corner of social media: “Find a job you love, and you’ll never work in your life.” Whilst this is a lovely sentiment, and your career should certainly add fulfilment to your life overall, the reality is that you will also experience days where you dread going into work. Allowing this frame of mind to continue unaddressed, without assessing how you approach work-life balance, could see your bright career turn into a dreary chore, and the quality of your work could suffer as a result.

Create routines outside of the kitchen just like the ones that drive your daily activity on the job. Chefs fully understand the importance of mise en place and the consistent organisation of every part of their workday.  Use that same formula to build in time for exercise, reading, travel, family, and being outside. Remember that an Outlook calendar works for personal time as well!

3. Train, delegate and trust your employees to give you the freedom to step away

Former celebrity chef and TV star Anthony Bourdain once famously wrote: “Skills can be taught. Character you either have or you don’t have.” When it comes it comes to running your kitchen – and giving yourself a much-needed break in the process - there’s a lot to learn from the man who lives on through his legacy as America’s most adventurous Chef. 

You’ll want to hire a good team of people, who are reliable, have integrity, and who can get the job done. Wherever possible, take an active role in hiring your team or colleagues. Personally hiring your team can ensure that you recruit  employees whose values and ways of working align with those of your restaurant.

Work life balance is just as important as balance in flavours

Neglecting to introduce balance to your work and personal life will ultimately see you struggle to be consistent, efficient and successful beyond the range. Chefs who are fulfilled are ones who are true to themselves and their food philosophy.  They know that this belief structure is important, so make sure that yours includes other aspects of your life.  

Fancy taking the next step in your career as a Chef? 

Are you an experienced Sous Chef or Head Chef looking to bring fresh culinary ideas to a new restaurant, pub or hotel?  Search Hospitality & Catering has the best role for you. Our team of expert consultants work around the clock to get you the job you need! To see our full list of vacancies, click the button below!

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