Thriving in and out of the kitchen: 6 expert tips for mental, emotional and physical wellbeing

Work-life balance and the hospitality industry don’t always go hand-in-hand. Restaurant life is demanding and often unpredictable. Days, nights, late shifts, early mornings: sometimes it can feel never-ending. 
It is important to invest  in your mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. This will lead into positivity and resilience when days become long or stressful. 

Read on for 6 expert tips from experienced restaurant chefs and leaders  about checking in with your team, finding work-life balance, leading by example and more!

Create a welcoming environment for wellbeing check-ins

Informally check in with the team as you set up. Body language, tone and the general feeling show how people are doing, so you can tell when something is off. If the person wants to open up, talk about what’s on their mind. 

Steven Satterfield 
Executive chef and co-owner, Miller Union


Constantly lead by example

To prevent burnout, encourage your staff to focus on the job and not on the hours. Always reconsider time off, increase support and constantly lead by example. Create a safe working environment by using open communication to build good relationships. Work alongside the team and strive towards your goals together. Remind staff to take breaks. It lowers stress levels and improves mental health and wellbeing. 

Heidi Heckmann 
Culinary Chef Experience Advisor,  Unilever Food Solutions South Africa

Stay close to each other on a personal level

The wellbeing of your employees is a direct reflection of the wellbeing of your business as a whole, so checking in is essential. The best system is to stay close to each other on a personal level and get to know them. They’ll get comfortable sharing their problems and you’ll see the minute someone is struggling mentally or physically. That’s when to open the conversation to ask what help they need. 

Tony Hajj
Founder and chef, GO CHKN

Encourage creativity and freedom for team members

An important part of wellbeing in the kitchen is giving people projects that fit their personality and skills, so they can enjoy their work and grow. Let them be creative in what they do and how they do it. Then give positive feedback and share their achievements with the rest of the team. 

Thaís Gimenez
Gastronomic consultant and executive chef, Unilever Food Solutions Brazil

Prioritise self-care while staying productive 

Foster a positive professional relationship with staff and remind them they are an important part of the business. This makes them feel comfortable to share issues. Encouraging staff to prioritise self-care while staying productive starts at the top. As a leader, you set the example for your chefs. To help staff balance their work and private lives, start review procedures on day 1 and then follow up regularly. In reviews, talk about work and personal development. 

Jen Jasinski
Chef and co-founder, Crafted Concepts

Work smart to be the best

If you are new in the industry, work hard but smart. Working the most hours won’t make you the best. The key to doing well in this profession is self-care and knowing what your body can handle. Eat healthy and work out. Relax in your spare time. A good work-life balance gives you energy to do important things outside of work. 

Runa Kvendseth
Norway Chef of the Year Contender


Wellbeing is something to always prioritise, especially when the heat is on in the kitchen. Quick daily check-ins and open conversations can make all the difference. Get to know your team and see when they need some extra help. When we feel supported by our colleagues and when they know they can rely on us, we can bring our best to our work. 

Looking for more inspiration from chefs and industry leaders? 

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