Chefs At Christmas 2021

It’s back!

Each busy season for the past four years, Love Letters to Chefs has brought you almost daily reminders of little things you can do to support your wellbeing during the busy season. The focus is always on small steps that you can take. Because even more than ever, your time and energy will be at a premium.

The 2021 campaign kicks off today, with this invitation to tune in over the next few weeks. Follow Love Letters to Chefs if you do not already. And tag your colleagues and friends, so that they can join in too.

Wishing you a successful season!

The Work Life Balance Conversations: Hassel Aviles, Not 9-to-5

Poster for The Work Life Balance Conversations: Hassel Aviles, Not 9-to-5

In my interview with Hassel Aviles of Not 9-to-5, we speak about the brigade system and how it impacts work life balance. Hassel links the archaic hierarchical system as the cause for the lack of psychological safety in our workplaces.

Not 9-to-5, based in Canada, are advocates for mental health in the Hospitality industry. They offer courses and community on their platform. You can find out more about Not 9-to5 here and also watch the whole interview here.

The Work Life Balance Conversations: Tim Etherington-Judge, Healthy Hospo

Poster reads The Work Life Balance Conversations: Tim Etherington-Judge, Healthy Hospo

Tim Etherington-Judge of Healthy Hospo talks about our culture of excess, productivity, sleep and how he set up his platform for a healthier, happier Hospitality industry.

“There was definitely a point in my career..it was like Stockholm Syndrome..if I wasn’t at the bar, I felt like I wasn’t doing my job, you know. So there was this constant thought nagging at me that, because I’m not at work, something’s wrong, and I need to be at work. Even when I didn’t need to be there, when there was nothing going on, I was still there. So I was doing 100+ hours a week for months and months on end”…”You just get caught up in that situation of feeling you have to be at work.”

How many of you can relate to that?

You can find out more about his work at Healthy Hospo and watch the whole interview here.

The busy season 2021

Image: A Christmas tree in black against the background of a yellow circle.

As we head into the busy season, I invite you to reflect on what you need in place to support your wellbeing.

A runner would not take on the goal of completing a marathon without the proper preparation and training. But we are so used to stretching ourselves year-round (“it is what it is”), that we never consider how much we will step up our game to serve over the next few weeks.

What will support your wellbeing this busy season, chefs?

The Work Life Balance Conversations: Patrick Howley, So Lets Talk

Image: The Work Life Balance Conversations with Patrick Howley of So Lets Talk

In this interview, I speak to Patrick Howley of So Lets Talk, where he shares his journey as a GM and what prompted him to set up his platform. He also addresses archaic ways of working that are not doing us any good. And how some of the solutions can come from just having conversations that we would normally avoid about the challenges we encounter in Hospitality.

So Lets Talk is a not-for-profit platform with a mission to 86 the silence on mental health. They provide education, events, training and activities on all aspects of mental, physical and financial health inside of the hospitality industry.

You can watch the whole conversation here.

The Work Life Balance Conversations: Melinda Dorn, CulinaRecovery

Poster for The Work Life Balance Conversations with Melinda Dorn of CulinaRecovery

I had the opportunity to interview Melinda Dorn of CulinaRecovery, which offers peer-led mental health training & support for the restaurant industry. She beings by sharing her thoughts on how dealing with work life balance is never modelled to us. Neither at culinary school, nor by those who lead our teams. Which is why she encourages us to form connections with those outside our industry – at the very least, for the benefit of gaining a different perspective.

“..but they didn’t show me how to live outside of the restaurant business. We were very encapsulated in culinary school – it becomes, you know, a competition with your peers. It becomes a very work and study focussed life for a few years.”

Melinda is a former chef and a certified peer specialist and recovery coach. She is based in Denver, Colorado. We talk about, amongst other things, work addiction in the Hospitality industry.

You can find out more about CulinaRecovery here and watch the interview via this link.

Female chefs in a male world

A female pizza chef at work.

“When we make heroes of women, we often sidestep or mute their sexuality and capacity to give birth (as in the case of Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and render them essentially masculine.(from this LA Review of Books article by Sarah E. Bond & Joel Christensen)

Reading this reminded me that as female chefs in a male world, we are celebrated for displaying those “essentially masculine” qualities. Being strong, unemotional, getting things done, being efficient. Of course, all these qualities play an important part in our work.

But many renowned female chefs have built their success on feminine qualities too: really listening to their teams, putting love into their cooking, caring about how they handle their ingredients. I will go one step further and say that it is our feminine qualities that help us thrive in the industry.

It is time for us to really value those aspects of us, rather than see them as liabilities to our careers. The truth is those feminine values had a place in our kitchens, we would not be living with this status quo – a situation that no one is happy with. One that does not serve the wellbeing of either men or women in this industry.

Join me on Monday for a one-hour workshop on Work Life Balance for Women in Hospitality. And reconnect with those feminine qualities that support your wellbeing.

Bookings close on Saturday.

We need them both

Image shows two female leaders in the office discussing a document.

We need our feminine energy: to succeed as leaders, to excel in our work, and to thrive by balancing our careers with our lives outside it. And we also need our masculine energy – make no mistake about it.

But this is not the message we are given in Hospitality, or for that matter, many industries. So how can we own our feminine energy and use it to our advantage?

Join me for next Monday’s workshop at 3pm UK time. Bookings close next Saturday. Book your place today!

Owning who we are

Four female Hospitality professionals in a meeting in their restaurant dining area

Many of us women working in Hospitality have been made to feel somewhat ‘less than’ the others on the team. Then there is the expectation to behave a certain way, in order for us to be recognised, valued or even get ahead. We believe we have to comply with these norms, in order to thrive in this industry.

But are we really thriving? Or just constantly fighting battles on the inside and the outside? And how much energy do we expend proving ourselves or justifying our choices? From big ones like being a mother, to smaller ones like expressing our emotions when we need to?

The truth is that to thrive, you must own all of yourself. Or else, you are just reinforcing the belief that you are ‘less than’. And this means owning all of your qualities. Even the feminine ones that look like they have no place in a demanding and competitive profession.

How can you do that?

Love Letters to Chefs is hosting a 1-hour workshop on the 25th of October that is all about empowering you to own your feminine energy. We also look at how this can help you enjoy a better work life balance.

Not to be missed! You can book your place here.

Workshop: Work life balance for women in Hospitality

Poster for Workshop: Work life balance for women in Hospitality

This all-important topic is back in focus at LLTC: originally a webinar, it has now been expanded into an hour-long workshop.

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 our feminine energy and some of its qualities. 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. 

Join Love Letters to Chefs for this workshop to explore feminine energy, its place in our industry historically and why it is more valuable than ever in kitchens today. We will also work on some exercises to explore how we can harness it in service of our work life balance as women. 

Please join me by booking your spot here and sharing with friends and colleagues who might be interested!