chef plating food to pass to waiting staff

Busting the big myths about working in the kitchen

Busting the big myths about working in the kitchen

Hazel Laughey our consultant managing the role
Date posted: 13/09/2021

What springs to mind when you picture a kitchen? Maybe you see a busy space, with lots of people in their chef whites. But do you see any females?

If you don’t, then we won’t hold it against you because it’s always been known as a predominantly male field of work, where around 79% of the workforce are male. But hospitality isn’t just a man's business, and it’s a myth we’re working hard on busting.

We spoke to Andy Foley, our Kitchen Training & Development Manager at M&B, to find out what it's really like working in a kitchen.

You won’t have a social life

Go back a few decades and working as a chef meant very difficult hours. While no one is denying that the hours aren't sometimes long now, the industry is much more aware that people need weekends off to spend time with their friends and family. Also, Andy says that employers know they won't get the best out of their kitchen team if they're working long hours.

“With the hours you work, you create a whole new friendship group. The people I’ve worked with have become my family, and we look after one another. I’ve spoken to people who work in the Armed Forces and when they describe the relationships they have at work, they sound very similar to the relationships I’ve built with the people I’ve worked with. Ultimately, it’s because you see these people each day.”

All chefs are food experts

Most chefs don’t go to culinary school, instead, they learn things like how to cook the perfect roast potato on the job. Andy explains how it all comes down to the difference between behaviours and skills.

“Behaviours come naturally and are vitally important in a business like a kitchen. Someone’s behaviours show how they work, communicate, what their work ethic is and what their values are. When it comes to a chef career, you don’t need qualifications or experience, because your behaviours are so much more important. Employers look for people who want to work in a learning environment and take new things on board.”

Kitchens are chaotic spaces with flying saucepans

People think kitchens are these chaotic places, when in fact, they are some of the most ordered workplaces you’ll find.

“Kitchens can be busy, but it’s not a problem if you’ve got your systems and processes in place. Things like your safety policy, using prep and par, utilising the right tools for the job, utilising your teams’ skills and capabilities in the right way and communicating in the right way are all essential. So is briefing, pre-shift, during the shift and post-shift so that a team knows what they need to work efficiently together. In a well-run kitchen, people will do things like making sure they use their prep lists so that they can take the pressure off during service, and therefore speed up the service for guests.”

Kitchens are dictatorial

We’ve all seen Gordan Ramsay in action in a kitchen, so a lot of people will have this idea of head chefs shouting out orders at the team. But Andy explains that’s not how it works in the kitchens he’s been in.

“There’s a very clear career pathway in kitchens, so there is a hierarchy. That doesn’t mean to say they dictate, instead, they lead. Take a kitchen manager, for example. They know that leading people is about bringing their team with them. As a leader, your team are so most important because you are the best when they are. When they come into work happy and feel engaged, then you have a seriously powerful kitchen. Together you can cook fantastic food for the guests, get fantastic reviews and drive results for the business. Leaders in the kitchen understand that it’s about working with people and not against, developing their team, and helping them grow their chef careers and become the next kitchen manager.”

What are you waiting for? Let us help you find your next kitchen job in 2024

So, now that we’ve busted some of the biggest myths in the kitchen, all that’s left to do is check out our latest kitchen jobs. We’re looking for everything from kitchen assistants to kitchen managers and chefs to head chefs – whatever your experience, we’ve got something!

If you’re still on the fence about where to steer your career, check out our blog – could you be a chef? – and you might just be surprised.

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