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Why Chefs work long hours? Foodservice vs other career paths - Page 2

post #31 of 46

Great food requires great dedication. That's it.


You can get tons of high paying, 40 hour a week cooking jobs. You'll just have to accept the level of food you'll be cooking in terms of quality (not always) and creativity will be shit by global standards.

post #32 of 46

I'll probably get flamed for this, and if so so be it.  In the decades I've been doing this I've had to work some very long hours.  I've always accepted this as part of the job.  That said, I think it's a cultural holdover that's outlived its usefulness, and much/most of the time it's simple cheapness on the part of owners and pure inertia.  As has been pointed out, a kitchen isn't a magic cash machine that prints money but in the long run I suspect riding chefs until they drop is bad for business and expensive.

 

Over the years I've worked with a lot of talented chefs that have dropped out due to the absurd demands of the job.  More than a few left for bank jobs or something else more "9 to 5", often at the insistence of their spouses.  Fine, you say, if you can't take the heat...And fair enough, to a degree there's validity to that.  Yet I can't help but wonder how much talent and creativity has been lost.  Let's face it, when you crunch the numbers there's not a lot of reason for a really smart gal or guy to chose the kitchen over engineering, medicine, etc. 

 

And I wonder about the monetary costs of continually replacing chefs that leave because of burnout.  For that matter, what is the cost of burnout?  You know, that point where you're on autopilot, too exhausted to come up with anything new.  No matter how "hard-ass" you are, you can only do so much good work per week.  Speaking for myself, I can do 75 hours for quite awhile- but everything over 50 to 55 won't be my best work.  Despite popular opinion chefs are human and not exempt from biology and physiology.  This is also getting to be a big controversy in medicine; the old guard of doctors had to do a 120 hours/week during residency so they expect the new kids to do it, too. But there's a mountain of evidence that this is killing patients.

 

I dunno, this is just my opinion.  But I expect the culture of restaurants to evolve a bit over the next couple decades.  I feel that a skilled chef that's a smart manager should be able to do the job without working a hundred hours.  That many hours is probably covering for some weaknesses in their time management skills.

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
post #33 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by alaminute View Post

I feel like you totally missed my statement Chef Ross. To reiterate restaurants aren't a necessity therefore they WONT be as likely to ever recieve government funding OR private subsidies on the same scale as other occupations. Also I was trying to point out the difficulties educators face, not to seem unappreciative.

 

Sorry...but I'm with Foodpump on this one.  The restaurant industry as it stand in its' present form, is in a Renaissance period.

I read countless industry periodicals that say that the present state of our industry needs to change in order for it to survive , but as was previously mentioned, the chains have taken over small town America. With so much competition for the customer dollar, the mom and pops have no chance to survive.

 

My previous point was about creating a universal system of controls and procedures for ALL food service facilities.

This would put many places out of business and is not in keeping with the American capitalist society.

post #34 of 46

Im working almost 300 hours a month.....you cant do nothing when a restaurant is working all week and all the holidays and not closes....specially when you have only 8 cooks...  

post #35 of 46
Chef Ross, I still feel like we're talking about differant things
Humble chef, I really like how simply you summed that up.
post #36 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by alaminute View Post

Chef Ross, I still feel like we're talking about differant things
Humble chef, I really like how simply you summed that up.

Nope I understood quite well.

You're saying that restaurants are not a necessity.

How about tanning parlors, tattoo stores, hair stylists?

Necessity?  Perhaps.

Certified and licensed....absolutely!

 

Humblecook....sometimes people have to make sacrifices in order to make a living right?

A 40 hour a week job cooking job that pays benefits and gives a descent living,

may be better than working 70 hours a week at a restaurant job that leaves you exhausted, stressed, and frustrated.

As you mentioned it depends on what level you want to work.

However, I take issue with your judgement that one is BETTER than the other.

 

Do you really think that most of the people here on our forums work in high end fine dining venues?

I know that there are cooks here that work at chains and read our banter everyday, but keep silent......

simply because there is an "air" of nobility here that looks down on chain restaurant cooks. 

I have a lot respect for people who work at a chain restaurant and know food and how to approach the corporate mindset with regards to standards and consistency. I have little respect for the chain restaurant worker who feels he/she is in a rut and doesn't want to follow procedures because of that.

If we  (collectively) can not embrace cooks from all walks of the restaurant industry then these forums are meaningless.

post #37 of 46
I don't think I've ever got ink from a "certified" tattoo artist nor have I had my hair cut by a 'licensed' professional. Maybe my hair doesn't look as good as yours? And heck no, none of those things are necessary but perhaps that's why they mirror our field in pay and success.

Are you saying true greatness can be accomplished through mediocre effort? It's not necassarily just time but all aspects that go into making something great. In our case time is a factor.
Offal is a great example. When's the last time you saw cheek on a chain menu or had truly incredible earth shattering chx liver from a corporate environment?
I want to make and be a part of the best product possible I want to perform and learn on a level with the best, and these are attributes that I always thought were positive, but if I've assumed an 'air of nobility' from wanting to discuss the most amazing and impacting aspects of our culture than please direct me to a site where I can talk to others donning blue aprons.
post #38 of 46

When examining analogous trades, think of the ambiguity in the term "painter", it not only refers to fine artists but also to journeymen house painters!

 

A cook cooks food to be eaten.

 

A chef manages a kitchen to produce a profit and pay the bills.

 

A culinary artist creates masterpieces for the eye as well as the taste buds.

 

Please do not confuse the roles.

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #39 of 46

Correct Information Here, i have 11 years of experience in the Kitchen today and i totally agree to your point here; always more hours and this does not for whatsoever reason push me to ask why work more hours; the job demands it. In my few years, i have come to understand that a normal chef will never leave his job unaccomplished, which will take more than 60 hours per week. And i find it more acceptable and easier. As a Chef one is simply a Manager and is in more control at most times than the owner.

post #40 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post
 

I'll probably get flamed for this, and if so so be it.  In the decades I've been doing this I've had to work some very long hours.  I've always accepted this as part of the job.  That said, I think it's a cultural holdover that's outlived its usefulness, and much/most of the time it's simple cheapness on the part of owners and pure inertia.  As has been pointed out, a kitchen isn't a magic cash machine that prints money but in the long run I suspect riding chefs until they drop is bad for business and expensive.

 

Over the years I've worked with a lot of talented chefs that have dropped out due to the absurd demands of the job.  More than a few left for bank jobs or something else more "9 to 5", often at the insistence of their spouses.  Fine, you say, if you can't take the heat...And fair enough, to a degree there's validity to that.  Yet I can't help but wonder how much talent and creativity has been lost.  Let's face it, when you crunch the numbers there's not a lot of reason for a really smart gal or guy to chose the kitchen over engineering, medicine, etc.

 

And I wonder about the monetary costs of continually replacing chefs that leave because of burnout.  For that matter, what is the cost of burnout?  You know, that point where you're on autopilot, too exhausted to come up with anything new.  No matter how "hard-ass" you are, you can only do so much good work per week.  Speaking for myself, I can do 75 hours for quite awhile- but everything over 50 to 55 won't be my best work.  Despite popular opinion chefs are human and not exempt from biology and physiology.  This is also getting to be a big controversy in medicine; the old guard of doctors had to do a 120 hours/week during residency so they expect the new kids to do it, too. But there's a mountain of evidence that this is killing patients.

 

I dunno, this is just my opinion.  But I expect the culture of restaurants to evolve a bit over the next couple decades.  I feel that a skilled chef that's a smart manager should be able to do the job without working a hundred hours.  That many hours is probably covering for some weaknesses in their time management skills.

 

Of  course, whoever put the rules across that a normal working week should be 40/45hours was and will still remain the most intelligent mafia I've ever known; Yes, one will do even up to 100hours a week, but, the more hours you work without rest, the poor the quality. Just face it. We are all strong but rest is vital to good results. Thanks for sharing Phaedrus, really restaurateurs should start discussing these issues in their local authorities' meetings.

post #41 of 46
Perfectly stated chef McCracken
post #42 of 46

A cook (tradeperson) works when the manager (chef) says to and does what the manager (chef) says to do. As a general rule, money (as in paycheck) is the motivating factor.

 

A chef (manager) decides what needs to be done by the cook(s) (tradepersons) and how long the cook(s) should work and goes to work before the cook(s) and stops work after the last cook (tradeperson) leaves. As a general rule, profit is the motivating factor, as in pay the bills and have some left over.

 

A culinary artist starts whenever the muses dictate, does whatever the muses inspire, and continues until the muses are satisfied. As a general rule, money in any form is secondary to satisfying the muses.

 

On rare occasions, a culinary artist connects with a chef that grasps the vision of the muses and has the ability to find and direct tradeperson(s)  to implement the vision and generate the profits that allow the culinary artist to follow the muses.

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #43 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chef Garnette View Post
 

 

Of  course, whoever put the rules across that a normal working week should be 40/45hours was and will still remain the most intelligent mafia I've ever known; Yes, one will do even up to 100hours a week, but, the more hours you work without rest, the poor the quality. Just face it. We are all strong but rest is vital to good results. Thanks for sharing Phaedrus, really restaurateurs should start discussing these issues in their local authorities' meetings.

 

It's worth noting that Henry Ford conducted a lot of research and study decades ago to determine what the most efficient/effective work week was.  He arrived at almost exactly forty hours.  We like to think we're "evolved" or more advanced that those old timers but the fact is we're not.  Wanting to be a hard ass and proving how many hours you can work seems somehow...kind of juvenile and pointless.  Work smarter, not harder; the saying has some validity.

 

I'm under no illusions that there will be a rapid sea change shift to shorter hours, but I feel it could be done without affecting productivity. 

 

My new chef at work is really trying to get a five day week set up for all the staff.  I've worked at least six days a week for most of the last 25-30 years, so I'm of the "I'll believe it when I see it" school of thought.  But he has a point.  At the end of the day there has to be some reason to keep working at your job beyond just the paycheck.  Hopefully that reason isn't just that another job would suck more!  We all hope to do something we're passionate about but part of keeping that passion alive is nurturing some kind of life outside of work.

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
post #44 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post
 

 

It's worth noting that Henry Ford conducted a lot of research and study decades ago to determine what the most efficient/effective work week was.  He arrived at almost exactly forty hours.  We like to think we're "evolved" or more advanced that those old timers but the fact is we're not.  Wanting to be a hard ass and proving how many hours you can work seems somehow...kind of juvenile and pointless.  Work smarter, not harder; the saying has some validity.

 

I'm under no illusions that there will be a rapid sea change shift to shorter hours, but I feel it could be done without affecting productivity. 

 

My new chef at work is really trying to get a five day week set up for all the staff.  I've worked at least six days a week for most of the last 25-30 years, so I'm of the "I'll believe it when I see it" school of thought.  But he has a point.  At the end of the day there has to be some reason to keep working at your job beyond just the paycheck.  Hopefully that reason isn't just that another job would suck more!  We all hope to do something we're passionate about but part of keeping that passion alive is nurturing some kind of life outside of work.

Precisely. Regardless of how much the macho culture drenches the industry culture (and don't get me wrong, I buy into it too sometimes), we are still human. We are not machines, and we need rest to produce optimal results. I love cooking and I love apprenticing under the amazing chef and sous chef who have both taken me under their wings; but some days I just need time away from the kitchen to be a normal human being.

 

The attitude of "suck it up, that's just how it is" does not belong in a modern thinktank.

post #45 of 46

Yeah, there are times to "rub some dirt on it" but I think we're gonna see more creativity coming from a new way of thinking and working.

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
post #46 of 46

I dunno...

Did  Henry Ford only work a 40 hr week?

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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