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Huge, MEGA huge dilemma. Help me out guys?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hi there.

So, yeah, I have a major dilemma in my life.
Since I was about 5 years old, I knew, I was going to be a Chef. Had super grades in school but still, decided to pursue my dreams.
So, I am 30 Years old now, married to a super wife and we have two beautiful daughters.

In the last few years, I've been working really hard in a new hotel in our town. We are doing a super nice job, I have the best team and the boss is great. But. There is a but. My job is taking its toll on the family life. As a Chef, I work. I work a lot. Often even 60+ hours per week. Few months ago, during the Summer holidays, my older daughter asked me, why do I have to work all the time, even when all the kids she knows, go on holidays with their parents? And why can't I be home for Christmas and New year? Why did I not come to her birthday party?
Needless to say, I was heartbroken and I started thinking about my future career.

Yesterday, I got a job offer. 40 hours per week, weekends and holidays off, and it's not a really hard job and my pay would be aprox. the same with what I make now. For most people, it would be a no-brainer. But for me, I am in a major dilemma. I love my job. But when it comes to family, I certainly love them more. It's a HUGE decision to make and I would need Your help.

Thank You and kind regards,
post #2 of 10

Sanny, it is a choice I was faced with just over 8 years ago and I chose my family over the cheffing world.  I now feed inmates.  It's not a great job.  It's not glamourous and I still do work an occasional holiday or weekend but not many.  There are many downsides.  The lack of creativity and the quality of food being 2 of the biggest, but I do spend a whole lot more time with my family.  But I know chefs that chose the opposite route, most, but not all have regretted it, and I know many that have found a way to make it work, but their family has come to an understanding.


Unfortunately, no one can help you out.  It is a decision that you have to make.  You have to decide where your priorities lie.  You will have to sacrifice something and you will have to live with that sacrifice.  No one can tell you which is the right call for you to make for yourself.  We can only tell you the calls we made for ourselves, but each of us is different so our stories can only relate so far.

post #3 of 10
I made the same decision when I was a lot younger than you. I still miss cooking but never looked back. When I retire I might cook professionally again... who knows.
post #4 of 10

I'll second Pete with this one. It's only you who can answer this. I will say that it isn't a Huge dilemma, It's The Dilemma in this industry. 

While there may be various reasons why, the fact is that working as a cook/chef can take up a lot of time. 

     Personally, I've decided that while there will always be another hungry mouth to feed,  time I could have spent with family and friends can never be gotten back.  When I can find a cooking job that meets my criteria, I'll take it. In the meantime, I'm working to live, not living to work. 

But the answer is different for everybody.

post #5 of 10

I believe in the saying " if you love what you do you'll never work a day in your life". The truth is that there are many different ways to make a living in this industry. If you can honestly say that you love your job, have a great boss and your psyched about the work that you're doing that's a pretty good trifecta. And to be honest 60 hours is not really that bad. But missing holidays and birthdays just sucks and trying to explain that to a child can be difficult.

        I have worked in high end, top of the line restaurants and clubs and I've worked in a retirement home. At the retirement home I was well payed, enjoyed my colleagues and had a cush schedule, max 50 hours a week, and I was miserable. Having to puree whole hot dogs was a soul sucking experience for me however I had co-workers who loved it there. So I guess this is just a long winded way to say I agree with the other chef who said it all depends on you. What makes you happy? Ultimately your happiness is your responsibility. Choose wisely. 

post #6 of 10
Im going through the same sory of situation. Its a starving artist sort of feeling. Maybe you can just stage or make it a hobby.
post #7 of 10

Tough call, Sani.  Being a chef can be hard on your family.  It was a contributor (not the only reason, natch) in my divorce many years ago.  It's great to have a job you're passionate about, but life is a lot more than work.  There are lots of things to be passionate about, and family is one of them.  Is there any wiggle room at your job?  Maybe, maybe not.  I tend to work around 50 but of course sometimes 75 if necessary.  Sometimes it's a grind on me and I don't have a family at home.


As others have said no one can tell you what to do.  It's hard to walk away from a job you love, but as you say there's not way to get the time back again.  Your kids will only be young once.  If you miss that time with them you will probably never have the same kind of relationship with them when they're older.


Best of luck in whatever you decide.

"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
"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
post #8 of 10

Being a Chef with a young family is real hard. The needs of the family are much more when the kids are small. The first 10 years of marriage with small kids is " Why can't daddy be here for all the important things in our lives" Guilt trip as you walk out the door. In the later years and the kids being teenagers it's " Why can't daddy go to work, he just gets in the way of me being a teenager" he doesn't understand us. It's all about balance in home life and work life, both have to be planned. As a Chef you need to delegate and have good support staff so as not to have to work a lot of hours. If a chef is working long hours they aren't managing the operation, the operation is managing them. Put people in place to make the right decisions, do as you would do in your absence. Most chefs are leery of doing this because it puts other people in a position to move into the chefs job. A chef needs to understand they can't be the only person in the kitchen to manage the kitchen. Most chefs are insecure in this process thinking " This is my baby, I made it what is is, I'm the only one who could control it's success. There are a lot of times when you do have to work long hours because of busy times of the year. This is when you have to schedule your home life in the same way. In most cases Birthdays can be rescheduled on other days when Dad is off. The Chef could also schedule a Sous or lead person to cover for a few hours to cover certain days of importance. Every chef needs to understand the job could get done with proper training. A good managing chef will train people to be as good as they are. If this is done properly it would free the chef to leave when needed. Most chefs won't do this because of insecurity. A good manager knows a properly managed operation is how the business runs in their absence. To make a long story short, manage your business and home life so you can, "have your cake and eat it too".........Good luck........ChefBillyB.............P.S. you may say " Easier said than done" My answer is if you really want something you will find a way. Fight for both!

post #9 of 10

I have been working in the industry for over 40 years and have pretty much accomplished and satisfied all of my career goals and desires. I have no regrets and tons of fond memories and hilarious stories from all of those years in the biz. The funny thing is when I do start to reminisce about my life, it is never about a day at work...


My memory never goes there (work and career) unless prompted by someone else. Left to it's own devices my memory goes to time spent with family, with friends, doing activities (skiing, sailing, scuba diving, mountain climbing,etc.). That is the memory mis en place of this chef.


When I was in my early thirties, my best friend and comrade in arms (about same age), were at work one day when staff conversation drifted around to kids. My friend mentioned that his youngest had just turned 9. Another guy said "wow, half-way gone already".(i.e. being 18 and moving out). That comment really sunk with my friend. He was one of the most talented, hard working, passionate chefs I have ever encountered; but he started to honestly assess what he really wanted n life. Not long after, he stopped cooking for a paycheck, he certainly still cooks and expands his skills and talents continually, just not in conjunction with money. That comes from work in tech. He has no regrets about his decision back then. He raised great kids and has great memories. When we get together, we reminisce about first tracks in back bowls in bottomless over the head fresh powder snow, etc. For some reason, 16 hour, 300 plate services, to celebrity diners having a 5-7 course pre-fixe very rarely pop up in conversation.


Triage your life carefully and be fully cognizant of the fact that what you ask for, you just might get.



Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
post #10 of 10
I hear how hard it is to find good kitchen help in some cities and often wonder why some places don't offer a decent schedule as an incentive. I know I would be willing to take a pay cut if I could work a sane schedule somewhere.
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