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One of the World's Best Chefs Gives His Cooks Three Days Off a Week

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One of the World's Best Chefs Gives His Cooks Three Days Off a Week
Photo @atticamelbourne/Instagram

One of the world's best chefs limits his cooks to a 48 hour working week, with four days on and three days off. 

Ben Shewry of Melbourne's Attica, number 32 on the World's 50 Best Restaurants List, revealed his motivations in a recent Instagram post. He feels he gets more out of his cooks if they work four twelve hour days rather than cooking six or even seven days a week:

"We've built the restaurant on the values of questioning everything, EVERYTHING. This year I feel we took a major leap forward in the development of our culture by putting the young men and woman who work in our kitchens on a 48 hour weekly roster. 4 days on, 3 days off. Are the old ways of flogging yourself and having no life outside of the kitchen right? In my opinion no. Do I regret working the hours I have? No, however there wasn't another option. Changing the roster structure to accomodate the fact that cooks are humans, not machines and indeed can have lives as well has been cathartic for not only the team but also the business. We get an elite 48 hours out of each one of them and all of our cooks can work on multiple sections at any given moment, becoming multi skilled in the process."

He also suggests fine dining kitchens aren't neccessarily the best environments for chefs to develop:

"It might sound like an odd thing to say but many Chefs don't learn how to cook properly at fine dining restaurants. You get stuck on a section, you pick a ton of herbs and plate tons of beautiful looking food but often you don't get into the real depths of cooking hard. It is very important to me that our cooks to leave here with the ability to cook properly."

Read the post, which has clocked up close to 6000 likes at time of writing, below. Shewry is one of a growing number of chefs who see the benefits in limiting work hours and letting their chefs have more social and family time, like Greg Baxtrom at New York's Olmstead restaurant, who gives his cooks two days off a week, or like at Kadeau, the Michelin-starred restaurant on isolated Baltic island, which also operates a four day working week. 

What do you think, is kitchen culture in dire need of change? This research suggests long hours are making chefs sick. Let us know your thoughts over on our Facebook page

 

2001, 23 years old, shagged. Occasionally well intentioned people will say to me "your success must feel amazing" or the old chestnut "you must feel so lucky" and I'm grateful for sure but this year I've been reflecting on some facts of my "success" ; I'm 40, I've averaged 75 hours per week in kitchens since the age of 14. I've already worked roughly the same amount of hours as a person averaging 40 hours per week throughout their career to retirement age. So no I don't feel "amazing" I feel like I'm 65! We've built the restaurant on the values of questioning everything, EVERYTHING. This year I feel we took a major leap forward in the development of our culture by putting the young men and woman who work in our kitchens on a 48 hour weekly roster. 4 days on, 3 days off. Are the old ways of flogging yourself and having no life outside of the kitchen right? In my opinion no. Do I regret working the hours I have? No, however there wasn't another option. Changing the roster structure to accomodate the fact that cooks are humans, not machines and indeed can have lives as well has been cathartic for not only the team but also the business. We get an elite 48 hours out of each one of them and all of our cooks can work on multiple sections at any given moment, becoming multi skilled in the process. It might sound like an odd thing to say but many Chefs don't learn how to cook properly at fine dining restaurants. You get stuck on a section, you pick a ton of herbs and plate tons of beautiful looking food but often you don't get into the real depths of cooking hard. It is very important to me that our cooks to leave here with the ability to cook properly. And while they are working at attica it is also important for all of our staff to have a life with their partners, friends and family.

A post shared by Ben Shewry (@benshewry) on

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