Being a chef can be one of the most rewarding yet stressful careers. When there’s a busy dinner service and orders are flying in while diners are impatiently demanding their food, even some of the industry’s brightest talents have been known to walk away and never look back.
Yes, stress is a part of a successful chef’s life, but dealing with it doesn't have to be difficult if you have the right strategies for keeping cool under pressure.
In most cases, you’ll know when your day is going to get hectic. The vast majority of “surprise” rushes are, in fact, predictable – and trained chefs can spot these trends in advance.
The most common reasons for an influx of diners are:
- Your restaurant has recently received positive reviews
It’s important to plan ahead and be ready for all the extra activity that’s coming your way, so keep tabs on what’s been happening in the food and beverage scene in Singapore. Notice if your restaurant has been mentioned in any noteworthy publications (both online and offline) and be prepared to feed the crowds with your very best dishes.
Control your mindset
Your thoughts determine your actions. To be a successful chef, you need to take control of your mind and eliminate negative thoughts that may run through your head, especially during hectic situations.
Remember, the quality of your work is influenced by the quality of your thoughts, so keep positive and focused on what’s important – creating a memorable dining experience for your diners.
Defeat your stress signals
Humans have specific “fight or flight” emotional responses. When we are stressed out, our bodies get flooded with hormones to try and deal with these issues. Unfortunately, these hormones can also cause you serious health problems down the road.
So the next time you feel overwhelmed or stressed out, take a quick break. Research has shown that calming down for just one to two minutes can restore your body to its normal, calm state.
Your breathing has a huge impact on how your body handles stress. Here’s a useful breathing technique you can try when you need to keep cool.
When you start to worry, simply take one long, deep breath. Hold it in for several seconds, then exhale. Do this four or five times to calm yourself down.
By breathing deeply, your body receives an abundance of much-needed oxygen, shutting down the neurons which produce stress-related hormones. This keeps you calm and allows you to relieve pent-up anxiety.
Best of all, you can practice breathing in the kitchen, making it especially useful during peak periods.
Eliminate negative people
Negative people, especially members of the kitchen crew, can easily ruin the mood of everyone around them including the most important person in the kitchen, the chef.
Business experts have studied companies and proved that negative employees can seriously dampen their co-workers’ enthusiasm and ambition by creating stress and tension in the workplace.
The lesson here is that if you have negative people working in your kitchen, talk to them. Encourage them to work as positive, functional members of your team – otherwise, they’ll have to go. Sometimes, eliminating one bad apple can lead to a much happier, healthier and more productive crew.
Stress in the workplace can be dealt with. You just need to know the right strategies to keep calm and get your work done. Remember that at the end of the day, your genius in the kitchen shouldn’t be curtailed by stress; it should be celebrated through your dish creations.