It’s winter 2022 and everywhere I go it seems to be the same story – chefs who are burning out, emotionally drained and bone tired. 

Whether it’s because they’ve been short-staffed all year, have financial worries or are just working too many hours to stay afloat, what we are seeing is a yet another crisis unfolding in the hospitality and foodservice industry.

And don’t forget that while the Northern Hemisphere is suffering heatwaves, Australians are enduring one of the coldest and wettest winters in living memory – and seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is definitely a thing.

While burnout and fatigue are affecting chefs of all ages, I’m particularly concerned at the moment about senior chefs who are considering quitting the industry for good. This is completely understandable, as years of physically demanding work and unsociable hours can take their toll. Throw in a pandemic, which has increased our collective and individual anxieties, plus extra caring responsibilities for kids and ageing parents, and it becomes a toxic recipe.

What we are losing to chef burnout are the masters and mentors, who would usually pass on their skills and artistry to the next generation. If their passion has gone, who will inspire our young chefs and show them what an exciting and rewarding career it can be?

We all know it can be lonely at the top. But if the recent RUOK?, Beyond Blue and other mental health campaigns have taught us anything, it is that just talking to someone can really help. 

There is no easy fix for depression and burnout, I wish there was. There are plenty of short term fixes – alcohol and other substances spring to mind – but working towards a more balanced lifestyle in the long term is a better option, although easier said than done.

If any of this strikes a chord with you or someone you know, then don’t just push the feelings away and hope for the best. Reach out, you never know who else is feeling the same, or who would appreciate a heart to heart conversation. 

Here are some links to find more information and resources for mental health support that could change a life –
Beyond Blue
Head to Health

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