March 27, 2017

To build a great career as a chef, you must also make time for yourself.
If you are working toward a culinary certificate online, you’re someone who loves to cook. But even if you make your way through a Texas culinary school, that doesn’t necessarily mean you want to spend every minute of the day in the kitchen. You may have a wide variety of other ambitions and interests that have nothing to do with crafting the greatest pasta sauce or a perfect souffle.

For many chefs, it’s challenging to keep up with other passions and commitments as well as their careers. In some cases, that can mean they don’t spend enough time on friends, family or hobbies. Here are some tips to help you strike a work-life balance and find happiness in your career:

1. Look for a positive work environment

“Find a position where the executive chef has similar values.”

Professional kitchens demand a high level of performance from all workers as they collaborate to turn out delicious dishes with speed and style. Still, not every business expects employees to prioritize those duties over every other aspect of their lives. As chefs told Greenville Online, the environment inside the kitchen where you work makes a big difference in your ability to sustain the rest of your commitments.

If you value a good work-life balance, keep that in mind when looking for a job. Find a position where the executive chef or owner has similar values and will understand your outside responsibilities. Some people have even chosen to start their own restaurants or food trucks to ensure they can keep their professional and personal lives in harmony.

2. Find flexibility in your schedule

Long shifts, including weekends and holidays, are facts of life for most culinary professionals. On the other hand, positive relationships outside of the job depend on your commitment to make the most of the free time you have. Take full advantage of any open slots in your calendar to connect with family, hang out with friends or pursue a hobby.

If you maintain open lines of communication with your supervisor, you’ll be aware when you are most needed and also able to seize opportunities to step away from the job for a while. It’s important to be a team player, but that doesn’t mean you have to agree to every request to cover someone else’s shift, stay late or take on extra duties. Sometimes the most important thing you can do for yourself is turn down an additional responsibility.

Working in catering may be one way to improve your work-life balance.Working in catering may be one way to improve your work-life balance.

3. Consider a career outside of restaurants

Cooking in a restaurant isn’t for everyone, especially if you prefer regular daytime hours. Fortunately, your culinary academy training prepares you to work in a variety of settings. By choosing a job away from the restaurant industry, you may be able to take on more predictable shifts, get home earlier and make more time for other responsibilities.

A position as an institutional chef at a school, hospital or corporate office building might be a better choice than a restaurant if you want a consistent schedule. Meanwhile, working in catering can require long days, but it’s also easier to control your availability. A pastry chef’s job is demanding, but you can complete much of the labor in advance, which makes the hours more predictable.

Work is important, but so is taking time for yourself. For any committed professional, it’s sometimes difficult to excel at your job while also keeping up with an active personal life, but striking that balance allows you to build a fulfilling career. Consider what’s most important to you, and keep those priorities in mind when searching for a position.