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FOCUS: How top Jersey chefs cope in the kitchen amid Christmas pressure

FOCUS: How top Jersey chefs cope in the kitchen amid Christmas pressure

Friday 02 December 2022

FOCUS: How top Jersey chefs cope in the kitchen amid Christmas pressure

Friday 02 December 2022


It may be the season to be jolly.. but, for those working in hospitality, Christmas can mean gruelling 70-hour weeks and significant pressure.

A pair of chefs at two of the island's top restaurants have opened up about how they cope during what is their busiest season.

Samphire's Head Chef Tommy Radiguet (25) and the Royal Yacht's Executive Head Chef Gamage Don (54) shared their tips with Bailiwick Wellbeing...

During the Christmas season, how many covers do you serve at each meal and how many hours do you work each week? How does that compare to "normal times"?

Inaka: After the recent covid pandemic, we expect 2022 Christmas to be one of the busiest.

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Pictured: Inaka explained chefs are likely to work 30% to 40% more hours during the Christmas season.

As chefs, we are most likely to work 30% to 40% more hours from the last week of November through December. Having a big enough team of experienced chefs, which we are fortunate to have at The Royal Yacht, is the key to handling this very busy period.

Tommy: Anywhere between 30-55 covers per seating depending on the day. We are working an average of 60 to 70 hours a week over the Christmas period.

What kind of impact do the long hours and the high number of covers have on your wellbeing?

Inaka: These increased levels of business, high guest numbers and long working hours can have an impact on a chef’s wellbeing.

Having a great team is key. We help and support each other, collaborate and have fun at work which makes it easier to get through this tough period.

notes writing

Pictured: "Writing notes and making lists of all the work that needs completing with proper deadlines," Inaka said.

Managing our time, planning ahead, being super organised, writing notes and making lists of all the work that needs completing with proper deadlines, it all helps you get through busy days with ease.  Delegating at the right time, creating and developing routines make the workload easy to complete.

When you create a great working environment, it minimises the amount of stress that the chefs are under and therefore helps with the wellbeing of the team

Tommy: You normally don’t have too much time to think about it. It helps to stay busy as well, it keeps everyone motivated and on track.

Of course, you’re normally a little more tired than usual but we are used to adjusting to this over the festive period. Everyone is normally in good spirits, we try to keep hours down when possible in these busy periods to get a good work life balance.

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Pictured: Both Inaka and Tommy try to relax and get as much down time as they can outside of work.

What do you do to look after yourself during those busy periods?

Inaka: I try and have the best possible work/life balance by making the most of my free time and doing things that I enjoy outside of work. Again, this is only possible, with the right team around you, supporting each other.

Tommy: I try to get as much rest and down time as possible.

What would you say is the most efficient way to relieve stress?

Inaka: Exercise, eating and sleeping well won’t make your stress levels disappear completely, but it will reduce its emotional intensity, which will make you a calm person and will help you deal with problems more efficiently.

Tommy: Relaxing, socializing with family and friends and going to the gym when possible. The odd beer helps also!

coffee chat

Pictured: The chefs suggested connecting with people and socialising with friends and family to cope with stress.

What would you say to colleagues, or people working in other sectors, who might be struggling with high workloads?

Inaka: Connect with people. Reach out and find out how close friends, family and colleagues deal with stress. You will find fresh perspectives and different ways to deal with stress.

Listening to music is one of the best ways to relax if possible while at work. Communication is very important with your team as well as the other teams every day in the establishment to make sure everything runs smoothly.

We are hospitality professionals, our aim and nature is to provide the highest possible guest satisfaction to all our guests but there are times when we need to learn to say “ NO “.

Tommy: Take time to rest and relax. Find something that you can focus on and enjoy as well as work such as sport. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself! 

This article first featured on Bailiwick Wellbeing, your free weekly guide to wellness in work and island life. Sign up now here.

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