Patterson Watkins Promoting Self-Care in the Professional Kitchen

The stereotype of the “stressed-out chef” exists for a reason. Professional kitchens are fast-paced, high-pressure environments. As a chef, It’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind, but your personal health and wellbeing is just as important as your business.

Our passions are undeniable, but they should not come at such a high cost as our mental and physical health. Look at your daily checklist. In between making sure orders are placed on time, covering the latest call-out, mitigating safety risks and keeping customers and staff happy, have you included time to take care of yourself? 

This matters. It should be high up on that list. Because, how can you effectively take care of your staff and your operations if you don’t take care of #YouFirst?

Sometimes the most simple action can make all the difference to our wellbeing. We’ve asked several chefs, leaders in the industry, to share practical tips on how they encourage self-care.

“In my free time I have a switch off policy – I turn off all those polluting notifications that you receive on your mobile and allow myself max 15 minutes of screentime during the day. I always say, if it is urgent the person can call me! That allows me to focus only on my day whether it is with family or friends. For my chefs I apply the same: if they are off I will not disturb them!”- Chef Gilles Perrin, Culinary Director, Renaissance Downtown Hotel, Dubai

“Sometimes it just takes looking at things in a different light, or from a different perspective. Start small. Go to the gym. Do little things that make you feel good about yourself. Make sure you’re on a routine. Get your hair cut regularly. Buy yourself a pair of shoes. You know, those small things really trigger something to make you feel good and you try and use those to continually make better decisions on a regular basis.”Chef Jamie Knott, Saddle River Inn

“I usually start my day at the gym or at my favorite coffee shop. It gives me an opportunity to focus on myself, reflect and start my day with a positive state of mind. A good leader is one that leads by example, I very much believe in work-life balance. And I make sure I take time to do things for myself, like practice Krav Maga, see the opera or meditate.”- Naama Tamir, Co-Owner, Lighthouse, Brooklyn

“Take one minute to be silent and still. No distractions. Do it at least once a day. See where your thoughts go. See what you feel emotionally and physically. No judgment just listen to what’s inside your skin. What that is, is who you are. Remember that.” Chef Rachel Muse, private chef

How do you put #YouFirst? How do you encourage the same among your staff? We’d love to know – send your tips to