“It's not often compliments or praise are handed out, so that can add to the stress of wondering if you're performing well enough.”

Laurence Tottingham, Development Chef Revolution Bars Group

The foodservice industry is one of passion and dedication. Despite the long hours and often physically demanding environments, those working in the industry are truly devoted to their craft but can easily become overwhelmed with pressures that come with working in a commercial kitchen.

The causes of stress can vary widely, from demanding diners in a packed restaurant to supply shortages or staffing challenges.

With 53% of chefs feeling pushed to the point of breaking, understanding how to cope with your own stress, as well as that of your team, is key to managing the unique conditions which come as part of working in the industry and, ultimately, preventing burn out.

So, what techniques can you put in place to help manage stress, for the benefit of you, your mental wellbeing and your brigade? We spoke to two brilliant chefs, Jake Mills and Laurence Tottingham, to get their advice.

Step back and write a list

Jake Mills is a Chef de Partie at Studio Frantzen in Harrods, London. He explained: “Working constantly under pressure can get quite stressful, also if you're short staffed, it's rare an agency chef would be brought in, so the extra work has to be picked up by the rest of the team.”

“Often if I feel I have too much to do, I’ll take a quick step back to reorganise and write myself a physical list of what I have to do and what is priority, then give myself time to do it.”

Get physical.

Being mindful to take the time to stop and breath can be an invaluable mechanism in improving the mindset and increasing productivity when everything seems to be getting too much.

Laurence Tottingham, Development Chef at Revolution Bars Group, uses exercise to give himself some headspace: “I exercise and make sure I have time away from work without interruptions to allow myself to de-stress.”

Minimise stress filtering through the team.

It doesn’t matter how you manage your own stress; what matters is that you find something that works for you, both in the heat of service as well as during down-time. This will ensure that you’re as refreshed as possible between shifts and more capable of supporting your teams and preventing as much stress as possible from filtering down from the top.

Laurence explains how positivity and good energy is king in his kitchen: “Keeping calm under pressure is key and always being upbeat will help keep morale high. It may be an act for you that day if you’re not feeling 100%, but people around you will benefit.”

He also highlights the importance of staying alert and offering simple compliments so staff know they’re doing well: “It's not often compliments or praise are handed out, so that can add to the stress of wondering if you're performing well enough. Keeping an eye on people and clocking when they are low is important, giving them a 1-1 chat to help is a good tactic.”

Jake adds to this by explaining: “As a CPD, I sometimes have demi-CPD’s and commis to manage. I make sure to only give them a few jobs at a time so all they have to worry about is the task they are doing, and I can focus on getting the overall section set for service.”

It’s not always easy to be mindful and step back when the heat is on, or to find time for yourself, but almost everyone who works in foodservice does so because they love it and are passionate about creating experiences. It’s a tough world but #FairKitchens are working to provide you with the tools and resources we can to help you to create calmer, happier and more stable working environments.

Have you signed up for #FairKitchens free leadership training yet? This online programme will learn you how to prioritise your team's wellbeing, as well as your own, for a healthier work environment. Register today! 

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