Chef down!

I’ll keep this one short and sweet, because I feel like crap.

Have you seen that chef meme?….

[phone call]
“Chef, I’m not well, I can’t come in…”
“Oh no! Which Hospital are you in?”
“I’m not in Hospital chef!”
“Ok…See you at 4pm”

How ill do we have to be to be able to take time out? With the recent season of flu, colds and sniffles being upon us. Chefs around the world are trying to be heroes by turning up in kitchens to get their Mise en place done. Meanwhile, those 9 to 5ers are wrapped up with a Lemsip, Netflix and a thick blanket. They have called in their “Duvet Day” (yes, that’s a thing) With no drama from the Human resources department. They can take the deserved break to recover and feel better.


Jealous, moi? Totally! Too many occasions have I been in a kitchen, when I should have been resting. Too afraid to say “I need my bed”. Dose up on pills and carry on. It’s almost like a badge of honour to be working while being unwell. But who is the mug? We joke about the snowflake/millennial generation, but are they the ones who’ve got it right? Why bust your ass at work for that £8 per hour, when a day off could be priceless. Living your best life should not involve trying not to sneeze into the Court Bouillon!

Now, Obviously when I talk about being ill, I’m only really talking about mild colds and not full on Influenza. Here, I’m just really talking about the disparity between the hospitality industry and the office and retail sector. Chefs and service staff have to be sicker than the average to warrant time off. It is frustrating when a co-worker calls in sick, but let’s be honest, we moan about it, but life goes on. The job gets done. Also, when its sincere, we would all prefer that the sick staff member kept their “dreaded lurgy” to themselves.

And yes. We all know the Environmental Health view on sickness. But here, I’m really just talking about the work/sickness culture. Do you work when you should be recovering? How easy is it for you or your employees to take time off? What can be done to make it easier?

With modern knowledge, we are very focussed on the issues with mental health. We know people need to try and speak up when they have a problem and should not be stigmatised for it. But how can we expect this when people are still afraid to call in for the common cold?

I told you that I feel like crap. I’m now heading back to bed. It is my day off anyway, so I’ll be back at work tomorrow. I’d love to spend more time linking in stats and quantifiable research to this blog, but I really don’t have the energy. My wife and kids are giving me zero sympathy. I just want my mummy!…..sniff!