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To cook or not to....?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hello, I'm sorry as I have already posted this in the cooking thread, thinking it was the most apt place as I somehow missed this.

I'm new to this forum and this is my first post. Thanks first off for allowing me the chance to ask advice and gather info from everyone.

Ill try to dive in and out of my problem as quickly as I can.

I recently changed careers and became a chef. It was something which I have great interest in and also a career which allowed for entry in my late 20's with no experience.

5 months down the line and it is tough. It's difficult to know if I'm kidding myself when I say I enjoy it overall or not. I love parts and strongly struggle and dislike parts of it. My main problem and area is love to gather info on though is hours and annual leave.

The kitchen employs 9 chefs and one part time pastry chef but due to people leaving there is often 7 or 8 employed. My contract is 45 hours, I often do 60-70 and have done as much as 90 over 7 days never with overtime or TOIL. Is this standard?
I also request holidays as annual leave for 1 or 2 days via the form, have it passed and when the rota goes up it ends up being given to me as my weekly days off. Sometimes it can be amended but often not. Is this considered normal?

Speaking of the rota it is often completed on the Saturday if lucky but normally the Sunday before commencing on the Monday.
I'd love to know if this is normal too please.

If so then I can't keep committing to a life like it. It is too difficult and these factors have a huge impact on my relationship with my partner.

Another point is if I work a breakfast or early I should finish at 3 but I have to often stay late and in 5 months have never left on time and it is made socially awkward to attempt to.

I also feel pressure on rare occasions to pick up shifts or work extra shifts, again for no reward to cover illness or unexpected short staffing.

I am doing ok and I definitely am well thought of and praised and feel appreciated but I don't understand how all the above could seriously be common?

I really am desperate for as much feedback as possible please.

I think my worries of leaving are mostly guilt but also what else I could do in life at 29 starting from nowhere.

Thank you very much
post #2 of 11

In the restaurant industry 60 or 70 hour work week is not uncommon especially if your just starting out. If your are being praised and well thought of in your restaurant then that's recognition in itself, keep in mind they would not be asking you if they did not think you were able to handle the task. Also you need to consider senority since your the low man on the totem pole your be asked to pick up the odd hours, and requests may at times be rejected, however don't be discouraged keep doing what your doing and your work will be recognized down the line.

post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks very much for your reply, I really appreciate it and your encouragement.

The 70 hour weeks would be easier to accept if I was picking up wages for that rather than the 45 hours salary I'm getting. I'm sticking in but sadly I think I'm realising that when I look a year or two down the line this isn't what I want to be doing when I have a family.
post #4 of 11

I wish you luck in your decision and if its any consolation am 51 and I changed careers 15 years ago and I went through the same thing in the beginning I have a scheduled work week of 47 hours and I still do about 55 -60. good luck to what ever you decide.

post #5 of 11

Yeah, this is pretty standard, in fact it sounds like you've got it easy. This isn't the career for you. 

post #6 of 11

Sooooo, you decided to be a chef, brand new career, and five months in your unhappy because you have to: work long hours, work odd hours and pick up shifts, dont get to take vacation or holidays off whenever you want and feel that you are underpaid.  I agree with Guts, you have chosen the wrong career.  Its not likely to get any easier anytime soon.

post #7 of 11


So, you came out of nowhere and you became a CHEF? Or what exactly is your function there. To many of us, a chef, is someone who leads a kitchen and a team. The CEO of the kitchen so to speak.

WHERE did the idea come from then, to start in this job? Was it passion? Have you always loved food, working with it, cooking, and all related stuff? And to make people happy?

Have you seriously considered the pros and cons before even starting on this job? Or did you not realize what came with the complete package? Talked to people, asked questions?

WHAT makes that you now want to give up. ALREADY?


So, answer these questions honestly and I think you will come to conclusions. Not giving opinions...

post #8 of 11
There's a beautiful article titled 50 things you should know before becoming a chef- try to find that, it lays it all out. 70 hour weeks are nice, you WILL work every holiday and weekend. This has been a fact for us since restaurants began, that's what we do. If your not satisfied being a real cook but still want to be in the industry than there's always hotels and resorts. They're usually overstuffed and hemorroging money into their kitchens so they can afford to give you the schedule and pay you desire.
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
I say chef as that's what term everyone uses. 'The Chef' is head of the kitchen. I'll call myself a cool to be clear on here though.

Yes I put a lot of thought into it before starting but if I'm honest probably not enough thought as to how it would affect my life a few years down the line when I have my own family. I love cooking and making customers happy but I would be looking to leave sooner rather than later to give myself as much time in life to find the correct move for me.

I was expecting the long hours but to be paid for only half of those I'm doing done weeks is disheartening.

I don't expect to be given time off whenever I want, I didn't suggest that. The problem is when I have for example 2 days holiday confirmed the chef then rota's me down as those days as my 2 days off a week where it was previously confirmed it would be annual leave meaning o work 5 days still rather than 3. Then it can't be changed and plans have to be canceled and causes friction with my partner. The rota going up on a Sunday when it commences the following day is also making efforts to have a social life more difficult as well.

I think these circumstances on top if the standard ones associated with being a chef are tipping me over the edge where I am questioning if it is really for me.

Thanks again for all your input and advice
post #10 of 11

Long hours are not unusual in this industry, especially if you are salaried; but most cook positions in this industry are hourly pay. Look for an hourly position and try it out for a while.


I have worked at a lot of places where the schedule doesn't come out until the last minute. To me it is a red flag, not a deal breaker make me leave my job thing, but a warning sign all the same that management lacks the ability to feel empathy with their employees which is usually not a harbinger of issue free, calm water, sailing ahead employment in my future with them. Look for a place that post schedules at least a week in advance and try it out for a while.


The time off matter pretty much falls into the same answer and advice that I gave in the previous paragraph


Not trying to be harsh here, but do you start to see a pattern in my responses?


Whenever you are interviewing for a job, it should be a two way interview with you interviewing them every bit as much. That is the time to ask questions about their business practices and philosophies so that you will be able to make a well informed choice if and when a position is offered.


Basically, you need to share your part, in the issues that are disheartening to you. That is the bad news. The good news is that once you have done that, you will be smarter in the future. :chef:

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
post #11 of 11
I wouldn't go as far as to say you chose the wrong career like some of the folks on here, but like everyone said, you should accept and expect to get what you got right now. It won't change.

I like the idea of finding an hourly job. More than likely you will earn less, but you won't work much over time either. Companies hate paying OT. If you do, make sure you're compensated it, legally they have to.

It's tough in your case, because its hard to tell if you're passionate, or expecting something totally different than reality. 5 months is an extremely short amount of time to already be burned out.
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