They make tv shows and movies about the stressful and fast-paced days of chefs and cooks. And I get it. It’s interesting for people to see how far someone can take their ambition and what sacrifices they need to make to make it to where they are.
I have made sacrifices and compromises myself, and I still do every day. When I started in Olo, I would have left my grandmother’s dining table if they called me from work. It was my number one priority. Since then, I’ve learned to ease a little bit, but my mind is rarely away from the kitchen.
Time management and prioritisation. Those I’ve had to work on. You need to have balance in life. But even chefs are not super human. It’s also about team work and trust at your workplace and elsewhere as well. Everyone has their purpose and you need to be willing to accept help. Work, exercise, food, sleep, family and friends are the things you balance with and it doesn’t always go as planned. Here’s my regular work day (that might stretch out quite a bit).
I usually wake up when my kids do. I have two daughters, that go to school every morning and I help them get ready. I haven’t had breakfast in like ten years. Even now, I just have a quick protein shake in the car on my way to work and while waiting in traffic. My kids do, of course. They even know how to prepare their own breakfast. I might go to the gym or have a run in the morning – if I have the time and the energy. Having a run sets me off pretty well, actually, and I have most of my inspiration and ideas from running in the forest.
I get to work around 10 or 11. At eleven we have our kitchen brief. That’s when we discuss the details concerning lunch, ingredients, the mise en place.
Our lunch starts. However, I don’t need to supervise the whole time. I sometimes do paperwork during the day, but I usually try to get that over with on Mondays, when I have my day off. Because every minute spent in front of the computer and with paperwork is a minute away from the kitchen – where I feel the most comfortable.
Staff lunch is something I wouldn’t miss a single day. Our restaurant is closed between lunch and dinner and that’s when the restaurant tables are occupied with staff. Lunch may be pasta, fish soup or anything ordinary we come up with. I will write about this a bit more later, I think.
It’s time for the second brief of the day. That is when we go through our dinner reservations, menus and possible special diets. The briefs are important for communication reasons and they also act as a pep talk before service. It’s great and we all get a lot of energy from it.
19:00 (The most popular time for guests to arrive for dinner)
The day goes by quite slowly with menu planning, ordering ingredients and having meetings. During dinner service, everything changes. That’s when the show begins. I move around in the restaurant building quite a lot, since we have three different kitchens in our building. I do rounds and make sure everything is under control at all times – even under stress and busy hours. These hours go by in a blink of an eye.
At around midnight, I feel like I’ve given everything and it’s time to go home. I live outside the city, so it takes a while before I get home. Parking is a nightmare in the centre, so sometimes it even takes time to find my car. Also, because it’s late and my brain refuses to function properly. Not to worry, because when I get home, there might be an abandoned cup of coffee I forgot to finish in the morning. Waiting for me at the counter. And after a good slug, I’m back in the game writing menu ideas and maybe a few thoughts for my blog. I’m kind of a night person.
As time goes by, your work and your colleagues become your family in a way and you end up spending a lot of time with them. Still, being at home is essential and my days off are fully and entirely dedicated to my family in Espoo. Those days include morning omelettes, my daughter’s gymnastics class and maybe a visit to grandparents house.
What’s your regular day like?