Is the Restaurant Killing the Chef?

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Before I begin, please remember that I love that my husband is a chef.  I truly believe this is the perfect job for him. 

But with that being said, I often wonder if the restaurant is physically killing the chef.

(You should probably also know that my husband has been home very sick for the past 2 days as I write this.)

There are many nights I see my chef/husband walk in the door so exhausted, he falls asleep the second his head hits the pillow.

Other nights he comes home starving because he’s only tasted things all day and hasn’t really had a meal all day long.

Often he gets up multiple times during the night to drink a quart of water, Gatorade or iced tea because he’s so dehydrated.

Then there are the nights he comes home and heads straight for the cupboard and grabs the ibuprofen because of pain.

The worst is waking up at 4 am and realizing your chef/husband is not home yet and finding out he has fallen asleep on the way home from work and has broken his back.

None of these things are good!

So, I ask again . . .

Is the restaurant killing the chef

The job of a chef or line cook is so physically hard on their bodies!

I hate seeing my chef/husband in pain and so exhausted he can hardly think straight.  I love the job, but hate what it does to his body physically.  It seems like no matter how hard he tries to take care of himself, the job often gets in the way.  (Don’t even get me started on the month of December . . .)

Why is it that eating well and working out seem to be the first things to go when they get extra busy?  (OK, why is it that those are the first things to go when I get busy as well . . . I guess it’s not just a chef thing.)

Burns, cuts, tennis elbow (or as I would call it “cutting elbow” from cutting so much food at a fast pace for a long time), back pain, shoulder pain . . . the list could go on and on.

So is the restaurant physically killing the chef?  Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

From one chef wife to another,


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  1. Krystal

    I’m reading this as I sit next to my husband who has thrown out his back and is in crazy pain. I can’t believe how hard the job is on their bodies!! The burns alone blow me away. It’s a crazy lifestyle.

    • Jennifer

      Oh no! Back pain is the worst, especially with little kids who don’t understand and run and jump in their lap! AHHH!! I hope the pain doesn’t last too long!!

  2. Alisa Mueller

    I am so glad I found your blog/FB page. You write about things I think about all the time. My chef won’t usually call in sick unless he is really, really sick or his back has gone out. This has happened a few times. And then he feels so bad about calling in sick he texts the restaurant to make sure it’s ok. Really? They aren’t checking on you.

    • Jennifer

      Kind of scary how we all think the same things, isn’t it? 🙂 And another chef wife talking about back problems. Ugh!!

      My husband has been on the phone and texting a bit in between sleeping and coughing the past 2 days. It’s hard for them to not think about work, even when they feel horrible!

  3. Rups

    My husband has taken about 3 sick days in his career – not counting the 10 days for chicken pox. This isn’t because he hasn’t been sick, in pain or both, but simply because he thinks the kitchen will fall apart without him. Which given the staffing levels, it may well do. I think at least in the UK, it’s not just the nature of the job, but the attitude of the business towards staffing that causes more problems. If there were more hands on deck, the sick hands could occasionally take a day off to recover. As he gets older (40 now), it gets harder and harder to cope physically – and the usual body maintenance routine (exercise, healthy eating) go out the window when you are working upwards of 12 hours a day. I really fear what will happen when he is 60.

    And the opposite problem is when the chef’s wife is sick – I am thinking of the time I had labyrinthitis and was constantly and violently dizzy. But because my chef couldn’t take time off, I was still in charge of picking my son up from daycare. Not an experience I want to repeat!

    • Jennifer

      Funny you should mention age. I notice the job is a lot harder on my husband now at 40 than it was in his mid 20’s. It’s tough!

      And being sick as a mom is so hard, especially when our husbands can’t stay home to help! No fun!!


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