Work life balance for women in Hospitality

A female chef in a cafe cleaning a table

The chef culture makes it clear that only certain qualities belong in a professional kitchen. By challenging the mere presence of women in our brigades, the implication is that we (women in kitchens) should disown some of the qualities that we bring to the table.

Therefore, we not only fight an external battle, but also an internal battle with ourselves. Without realising how much energy we expend in the process. Or how it impacts our work life balance.

This devaluing of feminine energy does not serve anyone in the industry. Many problems facing chefs could be resolved with simpler solutions without this obstacle. But as always, here at Love Letters to Chefs we focus on what we can change in our own lives – without waiting for external circumstances to improve.

This is an invitation to women working in kitchens or any role in Hospitality to join our interactive session on the 8th of March. The purpose of this session is for us to reconnect with the value of our feminine energy. Sign up today, and share with someone you know who might be interested in attending.

Interactive session: Work life balance for women in Hospitality

Poster for interactive session for women in Hospitality featuring one female chef in a kitchen and another relaxing after a bike ride in nature

As women working in professional kitchens, we are often made conscious of our place in a profession dominated by men, and what it takes to survive and thrive in it. We can, therefore, lose touch with the power that feminine energy holds for us. This is the force that helps us create, as well as connect and ground ourselves.

Love Letters to Chefs is hosting a 30-minute interactive session on International Women’s Day to explore feminine energy and how we can harness it in our quest for a better work life balance. We explore the theme through the lens of the chef culture, but the session is open to all Hospitality professionals.

Join us on the 8th of March at 3pm (UK). You can book your place here.

Pandemic perspective: article for CulEpi

Image of the article by Ishwariya Rajamohan published in CulEpi magazine

“As someone whose work centres on a better quality of life in the restaurant industry, the first thought that crossed my mind when COVID-19 forced restaurants to close was whether work-life balance still mattered when we’re not working. 

As we got deeper into the pandemic, I watched as many people in hospitality evolved to finding new ways to work, while countless others had to come to terms with losing their jobs. Especially as chefs, our work is so much a part of our identity that the concept of work-life balance seemed to remain valid even when our world came to a standstill.”

I am excited to share the article I wrote for Culinary Epicenter, looking at what work life balance means for us during the pandemic. You can read the whole piece here.

Set standards for your life II

A photo of a person in bed turning off an alarm clock at 7am

Continued from Thursday’s post: If setting intentions for better wellbeing is all you can do right now, that is fine, chef. It might feel like a humble place to begin. But this is where you can really experience the power of your will.

Your intention inspires you to make one positive choice: to cook a nourishing meal today or have an honest conversation with someone close to you. Then you make another positive choice. Before you know it, you experience the better standard of health or relationships you wanted.

This is why our 22nd February workshop focuses on the small, positive changes you can make, even as a busy chef. Considering the rhythm of the times we currently find ourselves in, even small changes we bring to our lives can mean big progress.

Set standards for your life

Two feet on a weighing scale on a tiled floor

Wisdom from coach Tony Robbins:

 “If you don’t set baseline standards for what you’ll accept in your life, you’ll find it easy to slip into behaviors and attitudes and a quality of life that’s far below what you deserve.” 

There might be a lot of things that are out of your control right now, I am sure. But there is nothing to stop you from setting powerful intentions for your life: “I want to enjoy better health” or “I want to feel more connected with my family”.

We will continue this theme on Saturday, but in the meantime, in what areas of your life are you ready to set new standards, chef?

It’s all in the doing

A picture of two people holding hands

An ounce of doing is worth a pound of theorising – Wallace Wattles

Work-life balance might feel like a solitary pursuit, but that is never the case, chef. All of your actions, and even your inaction can impact the lives of those around you – whether that is your immediate family or your team.

You might not need reminding of that fact. Perhaps, in every moment, you are conscious of the tough choices that come with working in a demanding profession. Quite often, that might mean letting someone down.

But never underestimate the power of small, thoughtful gestures, chef. And how powerful they can be in reinforcing a connection with those closest to you.

This is why our workshops focus on helping you identify small wins. Work-life balance never has to be about bold, ambitious plans, but starting with a small, well-intended action is totally worthwhile.

Wellbeing goals for chefs

Wellbeing goals for chefs I: the answers are in you

This series is intended to support those chefs who have chosen to set wellbeing goals for this year. And to encourage those of you who might want to start! Let us take a look at three ideas that will be worth keeping in mind.

The answers are in you:

When you start to look for teachers or resources to guide you, you can jump from one to another without taking action. I have been there, done that. It it somewhat affirming to see that all those people really ‘get’ your problem. And that they have solutions for you. But remember that:

  • Only you can truly know what works for you
  • You can only confirm that it works for you by implementing the advice and course-correcting

Another thing to keep in mind is that you do not have to have it all figured out right at the start. The actions you start with (a particular workout or diet) might not be the things you end the year with. But trusting your own instincts will ensure that you choose the best path to get to your desired end result.

Wellbeing goals for chefs II: learn the principles
Learn the principles:

Focus on learning the principles behind what the trainer or resource teaches you. This is invaluable in a profession like ours that comes with constraints on how much time, energy and money you can devote to self-care. You might have to adapt the advice in order to make it work for you. For example, if you are learning how to sleep better, you might not be able to buy a certain recommended product, but you can find alternatives that offer a similar benefit.

But when you know the principles, you can do that in a way where you do not lose the essence of the guidance. And they become, in a way, timeless: you can always fall back on those principles. In five years’ time if you need to focus on your sleep again, you have more clarity on what helps you.

Wellbeing goals for chefs III: about 'crushing it'
About ‘crushing it’:

I have no idea how the phrase ‘crushing it’ came into popular motivational language. But you can hardly expect your journey towards any undertaking, particularly when it involves creating habits, to be a linear one. There are always seasons and rhythms to anything and everything. It serves you to remember this every time you face a setback or struggle with motivation.

Life is not a video game where your progress is linear. But by respecting the natural flow of how things unfold helps you respond to your circumstances much better. This ensures that you persist with your wellbeing even when the odds might seem against you.

This concludes our series – I hope you will take this advice to heart. Holding an intention for better wellbeing is a powerful act. Even if you might be on a solitary journey, be assured that you will find support along the way, chef.

(If you enjoyed this series, sign up to get a copy of the Five Steps to a Better Work-Life Balance guide.)

Reminder: Interactive Session on Monday

If you feel both excited and daunted by the prospect of setting a wellbeing goal, you are not alone, chef. The blueprint for self-care is not handed down to us in our training. There is plenty of motivational advice out there to help you push through resistance. But not much to prepare you for just what you will encounter along the way.

365 days is a long time to carry an intention for self-care, especially in our profession. To add to this, 2021 holds a lot of uncertainty for most of us. But with the support of a community, you can make big strides. Our interactive session on Monday is being organised so that you can connect with others walking the same path. We will:

  • Reaffirm our intentions for 2021
  • Review our action steps
  • Brainstorm ways around obstacles
  • Commit to our goals

We will look at the reality of what it takes to achieve or persist with a resolution – so that you can start your journey better-equipped for the long ride ahead.

Love Letters to Chefs invites you to join the session and make your self-care a priority in 2021, chef.

Diluting your efforts

A glass of water being poured out against a backdrop of a house and its garden

The first thing many people do when they recognise a wellbeing challenge is to share it immediately on social media. The comfort of knowing you are not alone is extremely valuable. But you can do yourself a big disservice by hanging around there.

What you do not realise about social media is how it dilutes the energy you require to resolve your challenge. You not only have to function as normal, but also seek to rise above the limitations that challenge has placed on your life. Stepping up, taking those first steps requires a tremendous amount of energy; it pays to be aware of things that dissipate it.

Social media requires us to mythicise our everyday existence. And we all buy into that trap of wanting to be seen as heroic, or the one with all the answers. But none of that takes you one step closer to better wellbeing, chef.