Holidays allow all hospitality staff, including chefs, to recoup and refresh.

In this column, club consultant Paul Rifkin says staff need a break to refresh themselves and remain effective.

During my 40-plus years working as a chef in the kitchen, I seldom took holidays, unless I was told to, probably because early on my stints were under two years. Then I had a 10-year run at one restaurant, I left with 26 weeks of holidays accrued, a nice packet of cash, but in retrospect, I probably could have had more holidays to recoup and refresh myself.

With a young family, I started taking all my holidays as they accrued, then before I knew it, I was back at my “always being there” again. Taking few holidays over the next decade I ended up selling them for cash. That’s what a young family needed I thought!

My days off were often spent having chefs around to brainstorm menus, sometimes ending in a drinking session to “promote” our creativity. Not such a great idea, as that took us away from our families in downtime!

Days off should really be days off, not “on call” for phone calls and texts all day long and into the night, and definitely not to catch up on “office work”!

So, what is my point?

Staff need a break to refresh themselves and remain effective, overwork achieves little in the end, mostly a poorly run kitchen, short tempers and a team that struggles to meet KPIs.

A work life has to be balanced for a person to grow, a workplace with this will improve retention and job satisfaction.

And who is responsible for overseeing this?

It’s you, the CEO, the Operations Manager, the Food and Beverage Manager, the Executive Chef … bearing in mind that each level up also has to have someone overseeing them. From the top down, the attitude of, “I need to be here” is created and nurtured. It soon becomes an expectation that everyone keeps working and is too scared to request time off.

There is nothing worse than normalising the contacting of staff on their days off … or even worse, during their holidays!

And why does this occur?

It’s usually down to one key part of leadership, the one most leaders struggle with, the inability to delegate and more importantly, to trust the person you delegated to.

Hence, they hog tasks, fail to finish their own work and have no succession plan in place.

The reality is your business must be able to operate if the “boss” is not there indefinitely … yes, indefinitely!

Now is always the time to review your operation. Ensure there are strong duplicatable systems in place to ensure controls are actually controlled and verified.

Paul Rifkin: Head Chef Mentoring and
Fine-Tuning Specialist for Club Catering
chefpaulrifkin consulting

Paul Rifkin

Paul Rifkin is a former club executive chef and now chef consultant to the clubs industry on menus, kitchen design and catering analysis.

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