The findings of the survey brought about some eye-opening results with a number of revelations about wellbeing, hours worked, sick pay and holiday, mental health and satisfaction levels within the kitchen.
Hours and Rest
60% of those who filled in the survey said they worked between 9-12 hours a day. 23% worked even more, saying they put in shifts of more than 12-hours a day. Perhaps the most shocking part of this is that around 17% said they worked these hours with no breaks.
Even with the large number of hours being worked on a daily basis by many of the chefs we spoke to, 82% said they had still come to work on their day off to help the team. Perhaps the most shocking number was that 78% said they had come to work when they were sick and should have stayed at home.
70% of those asked said they agreed that working in a kitchen affected their mental wellbeing, 74%, said they needed more time off and one of the standout figures of the survey showed that 60% of those chefs asked agreed they had used painkillers to push through a shift.
Speaking after the Fine Dining Lovers' presentation, chef Daniel Giusti said he believed many chefs are looking for difficult work environments to feed their adrenaline. “I strongly believe that a lot of young chefs they are seeking that, for whatever reason. They want to work in a place that’s something to brag about. Like “I work in a place that’s super intense, that’s crazy, that people scream at each other.” That’s not what you should be looking for. But I strongly feel there are lots of young chefs who are actively seeking out fucked up environments, which is weird.”
Speaking just after Fine Dining Lovers' presentation, Mark Best, MC at the symposium, said: “The most common issue we have in Australia as in UK is anxiety, you know that is the number one. It’s where we work, it’s how we work, it’s the stress of business, the stress of keeping up with the appearance, to keep the restaurant viable, dealing with staff, dealing with customers, we work at such a high level, it’s like this constant performance that creates anxiety and our serotonin goes down and down. We self medicate, like actors we drink, we take drugs, we don’t get any sleep, where this constant state of anxiety. And that’s the issue main with restaurants, where this conversation about the environment, the amount of the hours.”
This is just the beginning of Fine Dining Lovers' investigation into kitchen culture, throughout the rest of the year and into 2020 we will be conducting a number of surveys at different events to collect as much data, information and insight into what we believe is one of the biggest topics in the kitchen today: the sustainability of the chef.