Kitchen culture, the health and wellbeing of chefs, both physical and mental is one of the hot trending topics in the industry at the moment.
Last year, a picture of a chef eating hunched over on an upturned bin resonated with a chef community recognising the irony of taking the time to nourish others and not themselves, while chefs like Sean Brock introduce wellness centres in the workplace and other chefs address the work-life balance introducing four day weeks or even sabbaticals, like Renee Redzepi.
Structure, hours, mental and physical health, pay and proper time off are all inherent issues in a demanding industry which can take its toll long term on those working in it daily.
Which prompts the question, what can chefs do to look after their teams better on a day to day basis? How can they ensure they have happier staff stay that want to remain in a place they feel valued and conversely that they are the sort of chef that people are queuing up to work for?
Seasoned professional Paul Sorgule responds with ten pieces of advice for chefs absorbed from years of working inside the industry. From having proper staff meals to mentoring and leading by example, here are his top tips:
Be sure to read more over his Harvest America Ventures.
1. Exercise and Health
A healthy employee is an energized employee, an employee who feels good about themselves, and this will, without a doubt, impact their work and their engagement with the rest of the team.
2. Diet and Health
Cooks notoriously eat poorly (at least at work). food to a cook is oftentimes viewed as quick fuel to help them push through another service.
Make staff meals a celebration of food, a celebration of staff as family, and a celebration of the relationship that well-prepared food and the time to enjoy it has on body, mind, and soul.
3. Financial Management
We all understand that there is a problem with the work done by seasoned professional cooks and the amount of money and benefits that restaurants offer for this work.
Offering them advice, helping them budget their funds, and finding resources for them to address their financial concerns is another opportunity for you to invest in your staff.
The best thing that you can do for your cooks is to consistently work at making them better at their job. Take pride in building exceptional cooks through your active support.
Camaraderie, structure, representation, an opportunity to build a network of professionals and mentors, and the chance to validate one’s own skills is paramount to building pride.
Support a cook’s interest in membership in organizations like The Chef’s Collaborative, Slow Food, The American Culinary Federation, Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, and The National Restaurant Association.