I’m sure you’ve always had the desire to become a Chef one day. Well, not to look down on your dreams but being a chef is not as glamorous as it sounds. Yes, sure I was able to pay my bills but that was just it. I never had time for family or time to enjoy the fruits of my labour.
With that in mind, I’ll walk you through my journey and the top 5 reasons why I quit my job as a chef. If you are new here, my name is Lavanay Bhadwal and this is my story.
Top 5 Reasons Why I Quit My Job as a Chef
Growing up, I always wanted to be a chef. I mean, what really attracted me about the profession is I considered chefs as artists. They could easily make a great dish with an amazing presentation. This made me love the profession even more. Little did I know that there’s a lot that goes on behind the curtains.
So, I gave my all to becoming a chef and fortunately I got my first job quite early. And that’s where I started to see the challenges that come with being a chef. Don’t get me wrong! Every profession has its set of responsibilities and challenges and it’s not that I’m complaining. But, if you can honestly face the challenges head-on, then you will be lucky to make it as a professional chef.
With that in mind, here are my reasons for quitting the job.
1. It’s mentally and physically exhausting
Just like any other type of job, being a chef is exhausting both physically and mentally. Picture being on a time crunch every minute of the day! That’s how it feels like being a chef. You are the backbone of the restaurant and you are regularly under pressure to complete the dish as fast as possible.
After a couple of months, I learned to get comfortable with the pressure. But don’t be fooled! It doesn’t mean that it gets easier with time. Sleep is also a luxury that you will not afford. What will get you through the day is monsters/red bull and other types of energy drinks for chefs. Once the kitchen order tickets stop coming, that’s when you will get a chance to relax.
2. Say ‘Bye-bye’ to your social life
As you’ve figured by now, you will rarely have time for a social life. Whenever you get some leisure time, the first thought that will run through your mind is sleep. I could only make friends within the kitchen and a few friends in the restaurant. Aside from that, I couldn’t even connect with my long-time friends. Simply because I never had time to hang out.
To tell you the truth, I missed out on a lot of birthdays and party invitations. In fact, some of my friends thought I was shutting them out of my life when in reality I was busy planning for the next day’s meal recipe.
3. You’ll not have any holidays
In case it’s not obvious already, nobody will cook the food for you when you decide to take a vacation. Everyone in the food industry is not very happy about this fact. But unfortunately, it’s not like we have a choice.
Once you start working in the kitchen, then you’ll have to devote your time to work. When starting off, I would get double pay when I chose to work during the holiday season. This sounds appetizing but things change over time. There’s always that one holiday that you will want to spend time with your family but you can’t.
4. Overworked and underpaid
Cooks are required to work close to 50 hours every week while chefs will likely work close to 65 hours per week. But you wouldn’t believe it when I tell you that you will only get paid around $0.5 per hour in India. That’s just enough to pay for your rent and some of your bills.
In the year 2002, while I was working in a 5 start hotel at cannaught place in Delhi, I was getting only Rs 4500 per month as Demi CDP for working a minimum of 200 plus hours every month. Thats less than $0.5 per hour. (1 USD = 48 INR in year 2002). Some companies pay better but its always on the lowerside when compared to other jobs.
Pay checks are better if you go abroad or join a cruiseline. It might sound worth it when you look at your paycheck at the end of the week. But trust me what you have to sacrifice to get that paycheck will overwhelm you to a point that you will not enjoy the pay. On top of that, most cooks do not get any benefits.
This is actually the final strike for every chef. After working as a chef for years, you will end up feeling trapped in a dark corner that you can’t get out of. The zeal of waking up in the morning in a happy mood and rushing to work will no longer be there. That’s when stress, exhaustion and pressure kick in and you can’t escape it anymore.
The next step is that you will start to imagine how your life would be if you never stepped into the kitchen. When you hit this level, you will be ready to start your life again in a different direction. At one point, every chef gets to this stage and that’s when you will start looking for alternative lifestyle choices.
So, should you quit being a chef?
Well, the answer to this question is rather complicated. There’s no specific word for it. Before reaching the burnout stage, start investing in alternative sources of income. I mean, we all have great dreams when we start as chefs. I actually thought I was on my way to becoming the next Gordon Ramsay or Sanjeev Kapoor until I started feeling like I’m suffocating in the kitchen.
With an alternative source of income, you will have an escape plan. On top of that, try advancing your profession by enrolling to online classes. In a short while, you will get that promotion. This will give you more time to yourself. However, if you choose to quit your job, plan on what you will be doing for the rest of your life. Otherwise, you’ll end up jobless and eventually broke.