Handling the heat in the kitchen: 6 tips to cope with stress

As leaders, it’s our responsibility to create a supportive environment where our teams can do their best work. We work in a high pressure industry so preventing and dealing with stress is the first essential step to staying focused and in control. Then we need to help our team members do the same. We spoke to six leaders, chefs and experts for tips on how they stay ahead of the pressure.

Get rid of the taboo of mental health in the industry

“During my time in a Michelin-starred restaurant, I experienced what cooking under pressure means. I witnessed that the high level of service and the need to strive for perfection can be very heavy on a person. Staff should have two guaranteed days off to get away from the pressure and relax. We need to talk about the taboo around mental health in our industry and fully support people who are dealing with stress, anxiety or depression.” 

Lasse Geleijnse
Chef de Rang, Kaagman en Kortekaas
Student, Hotelschool The Hague

Create an environment where it’s safe to share

“A supportive workplace is so important. Create a safe environment for your team and make time to talk to encourage open communication in stressful situations. Be a good listener so your people trust you and are comfortable sharing issues if they want to. Be friendly with them so they feel at home in the kitchen.” 

Ali Yazdi
Chef and founder, Slaw and Next Door Cafe

Take care of each other, outside the kitchen too

“Stressful mornings shape stressful days. Make sure to be in the kitchen first to prepare your team in the best way. Teams who help each other become more resilient. It is important to always take care of each other, even outside of work. Create a family atmosphere and set goals as a team. This helps to avoid conflicts. Encourage people to take breaks as often as they want to calm down and recharge.” 

Volker Willems 
Chef and owner My Shifts

Prioritise time for yourself

“I’m sure we have all felt burnout at some point in our work. Prioritise some quiet time to think through your day ahead. Fresh air and exercise is a winning recipe for success. Write a list of what must be done, what needs to be done and what can be parked for a while. Also include what you need for yourself. 

Zoe Gill
Development chef, Brakes

Tune into every member of your team

‘’From a simple handshake in the morning I can tell how someone is feeling, how they are getting on at home or they having financial issues. It could be anything. It's just important they know you care.”

Chris Galvin 
Chef Patron, Galvin Restaurants

Recognise what you can control and what you can’t

“Pressure can be a good thing; but too much can turn to stress and make us feel that we can’t cope. Consider what is in your control to change and make a plan for it. This might be having an awareness of what causes you stress and having a solid idea of how best to respond to these circumstances, like taking a break. If something is out of your control, consider whether you can influence it. These are things you can discuss with your manager to see if they can be addressed. But there are things that lie out of our control. Look at how you can try and let go of these things and focus on what is in your control. 

Andrew Berry 
Head of Workplace Wellbeing, Mind

Reducing stress in the workplace is an ongoing process. Prioritise a healthy work/life balance and keep the lines of communication with your team open to address any issues.

Are you looking for a way to open up the conversation regarding mental health? An Hour For Us is a simple two-way conversation to start talking. Download the #FairKitchens An Hour For Us poster to get started.

Have you signed up for our free leadership training yet? It’s an online programme that will teach you how to create a fairer, happier kitchen for your team. Register today! 

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