Being a chef is a love/hate thing

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 13th June 2019

In 2018 Kanye West released an Album, title “Ye”. The artwork on the cover featured the quote “I hate being Bipolar, it’s awesome”.

In its profoundness and simplicity it encompassed his feelings towards his own personal medical diagnosis. I have never pretended to understand what it is like to be bipolar or the daily battles involved in dealing with many mental health issues, but that’s not what this blog is about. Sorry, but it’s not.

I may be oversimplifying this. But I found this title to be very relevant to how I feel about being a chef. I, by no means want to take away from anyone suffering with mental health issues or mental illness. This is just a reference point I have connected to an image.

So. Do I really hate being a chef? Of course not. Is it Awesome? Sometimes. I don’t want to preach to the choir here. Most of the readers of my blogs are chefs, work in the industry or are people who just like to stalk me. Either way, most are quite well versed in my opinions of this trade.

It is bloody hard and the hours are long. The money is mostly shit and everyone is a critic of your work. Literally, everyone! That all sounds pretty horrible right?

Very few industries can claim to put its employees through this scrutiny. The likes of TripAdvisor or Yelp being able to empower faceless reviewers to pass ill-informed comment on service and procedures they know little about. Shit, right?

But then there is the other side. The friends we make. The chefs we cross paths with as commis and then again, in latter years as Head Chefs. The Knowledge that you’ve seen each other’s kitchen fuck ups.

They are the untold secrets, their chefs need not know about. There is the prestige which comes with success. The review from a respected journalist or a nice write up in the local paper. Better still, a customer telling you directly that the meal was amazing! These are moments again, which are rarely rivalled. So much joy can come from this industry, that I know I’d struggle to turn my back on it fully.

Having a skill like this will always be respected. If you are a good chef and take your job seriously, you will be admired. So many people look at chefs like we are Magicians, Wizards or Witches. The skills we take for granted, are looked at by “Muggles” as if we just pulled a Rabbit Fricasse out of a hat!

We chefs sometimes underestimate what it is we do. Maybe society is to blame for this. Especially here in the UK where the hospitality industry is looked at as something one does to supplement their income. “What’s your day job?” or “Did you always want to be a chef?” The latter question is one I get asked very often. I only recently connected it with the notion that people would not assume “Chef” as a career choice. That’s another rant, for another blog!

If you are considering a career as a chef, go for it. I’ve been a chef for over 25 years and I still love it. Like any relationship, there are good days and there are bad days.

The industry is going through lots of changes right now. With more emphasis on wellbeing now than ever before. Employers are more aware on how much they can and cannot push their staff psychologically. The benefit of this can result in better way of life for ALL involved. Happier employees, happy customers, better food, better business. Makes sense, right?

Being a chef is a love/hate thing. I could ramble on, but I know you get what I’m saying here. We mostly all feel the same.

I hate being a chef, it’s awesome. This summarises my feelings to an extent. Although hate is a very strong word. Too strong, in fact. I may update the image/title to say Being a chef pisses me off a bit sometimes, but it’s pretty cool. blogger.jpeg

About Knife of Brian

Brian Powlett is head chef at the Greyhound Ipswich and Knife of Brian Cookery & Catering. He supports CALM (campaign against living miserably) - a male suicide charity and has recently finished his first pop-up event at the Suffolk Show.

If he wasn't a chef, he would be a gigolo.

For more blogs like this from Knife of Brian, visit his website

In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall and restrict access – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 13th June 2019

Being a chef is a love/hate thing