'Being a chef is a lifestyle choice it's not just a job'

The  Staff Canteen

It takes a great deal of effort to be a chef, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn't have a good work-life balance

In this week’s episode of Grilled by The Staff Canteen Co-host Sally Abé, chef at The Pem, was joined by Stosie Madi, chef-patron of the Parker’s Arms in Lancashire.

How would you get more young people into the kitchen?

Like everybody else at the moment Stosie is having difficulty getting staff, especially given the rural nature of the Parker’s Arms, with it being in the middle of Lancashire with no amenities nearby.

Stosie said: “It's difficult recruiting, it doesn't matter how much you incentivise. We were offering above what anybody would offer around in the area but because of the position [and] the location it's very difficult.

“There's nothing around us. So, either they live in or they'd have to commute."

Despite this when it came to the topic of recruiting young people she wasn’t melancholy.

She said: “You have to make it very fun; you have to make it a very welcoming atmosphere, you have to be very accepting.

“But more than anything you've got to be able to give them time to live because today's generation like to live, and I think it's very important to factor that in somehow.”

Unfortunately, Stosie stated she wasn’t really in a position to attract younger staff due to the accessibility of the restaurant.

"To get to us you've actually got to drive so it's got to be people who are a certain age group.”

Sally agreed: “I think we need to make it more accessible, in terms of working hours and work-life balance. I think my generation of chef is probably the last generation that would happily work 16-hour days.”

However, she said that it wasn’t all about the work-life balance and that 'to get more young people in, we need to change the attitude people have to working in kitchens, specifically in terms of toxic environment and shouting and screaming and all of that'.

“I think we need more people to be out in the media saying, 'this has changed' or 'come to my kitchen and see that it's a good place to work' rather than previous television programs that shed the industry in a slightly darker light.”

‘The attitude to my profession is I live it, breath it, dream it’

While neither chef shied away from the fact that they loved the industry, Sally said that she considers 'being a chef's a lifestyle choice it's not just a job'.

“It's not like you get eight hours and then come home at the end of the day and switch off. It's a constant thing and your entire life revolves around food as well.”

She added: “I look at cooking and being a chef as it's more akin to being an actor or an actress or a musician. We live to go to work because we love our jobs and we love our profession and we're proud to go to work every day.”

“I mean no one in their right mind would open a restaurant if they just wanted to pay the bills. It's just so much more than that.”

Stosie agreed and said: “I think the attitude to my profession is I live it, breath it, dream it. It takes over. I'm completely dedicated to what I do, otherwise, I wouldn't do it because it's a difficult profession to be in in the first place.”

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 24th June 2022

'Being a chef is a lifestyle choice it's not just a job'