How to build a healthy kitchen culture through positive change

The hospitality industry is undergoing a much-needed shift. Unfair hours, pressurised working environments and poor treatment of staff, practices once accepted as the norm, are now being challenged by chefs and workers across the globe.

This push for change offers the opportunity to build a more positive culture – one where employees feel valued and motivated to do their jobs, and businesses thrive. We spoke to five chefs about the changes they’ve made and the impact this has had on their work:

Change the way you run your business

“A few years ago I decided that I didn’t want to lose any more staff members. I redeveloped the culture of my business, becoming a really solid employee-first company. To support our team, we have an individual development programme for each chef. We pay well above the usual rate to make them feel their work is valued and we give seven weeks paid holiday a year, which offers flexibility for those who need it. 

It's not what it’s costing you, it’s what you buy - and that’s loyalty, better engaged staff and investment emotionally in your team. Since making these changes, we haven’t lost any staff members in over two years.”

Chef Ryan Gregorash, #FairKitchens ambassador and Founder & Executive Chef of Stolen Bike Catering and Matai Restaurant

Change and improve your approach to hiring

"Interviewing is a two-way street. I’m getting to know a potential hire but they’re also getting to know whether they want to come on board with us. A simple thing you can do to change how you hire is not to prejudge a resume. In my experience, a lot of typos happen because someone is new to the community, the country or the culture. We’re not looking for typists or data enterers: if you pick at tiny grammar or spelling errors, you risk excluding brilliant candidates from diverse backgrounds."

  • Matt Johnston, Director of Menu and Product Experience at Pita Pit Canada


Change how you treat your staff

"Treating people equally, giving them responsibility and respect gets the best results out of them. Good conditions, happy staff members, flexibility, a sense of respect, and inclusivity - these should be the norm.”

Amanda Fuller, Group Executive Chef of Sam Prince Hospitality Group


Change your response to stressful situations

"In the heat of the moment it's easy to say something in a way we don’t intend. When that happens, recognise the impact it has - apologise promptly and acknowledge it was you acting out of character. This can end any negative feelings there and then, enabling the team to come back stronger and perform at their best."

Chef Shane Cooke of Jasper Wellbeing


Change perceptions of mental health

"For a long time, we've accepted the stereotype of chefs needing to be strong and thick skinned and not show any 'weakness'. Thankfully this is changing. Speak to someone, get it off your chest. Surround yourself with positive people. Breed positivity and you will receive positivity.”



Our industry can only thrive if the people who work in it thrive. Through making positive changes like these, you can help shape the future of hospitality - making it stronger, fairer and more sustainable for all.