TV networks and reality shows tend to glamorize the life of the professional chef. One thing they don’t show is the toll that years of working in hot, stressful environments inflicts on hard-working professionals. We recently came across an article out of Canada that explores some of these issues, and we’d like to take a look at some of them this week.
The Toll the Industry Takes on Certified Food Managers
While talking to Certified Food Managers at busy and successful restaurants, we’ve heard kitchen service compared to any other job where deadlines exist, except that you only have 15 minutes to meet each deadline, you have a hundred of them in a single shift, it’s 103 degrees, you have hungover, foul-mouthed coworkers wielding scalding pans and razor sharp knives, and you have to repeat the process five or six days a week.
This scenario results in high levels of anxiety among food service professionals, and those levels tend to rise with responsibility. Executive chefs and food service supervisors are commonly known to put in more than sixty hours a week at their establishments. This can cause a mental breakdown when you combine shear exhaustion and the stress that comes from their position. As a certified food manager, it’s important to recognize the symptoms of stress and anxiety and take care of yourself before the environment leads to serious physical and mental health issues.
Another interesting issue brought up is that restaurant workers have easy access to alcohol, and the nature of their work puts them in an environment with other young adults who commonly seek a seat at the bar after hours. The author of this article goes on to suggest that with over half of restaurant workers being under the age of 35, many do not have the family commitments older professionals do, and the easy access to a few drinks after work can lead to alcohol and drug abuse problems.
While a chef is not a nanny or a parent to their staff, they can still do something to ease the stress and prevent problems from arising. The first thing is to recognize issues before they get out of hand. A food service manager should do their best to mentor the young people on their staff.
What are some of the unique issues that are important to you as a food industry professional?