Title of Paper

Are things just too hot in the kitchen? Chefs’ mental health and wellbeing

Presenter Bios (50 Words)

Associate Professor Richard N.S. Robinson joined the University of Queensland, in 2005, after a career as a chef, predominantly managing foodservice operations in the prestige club, heritage facility and hotel sectors. He holds a UQ Research Development Fellowship, to investigate gaining and sustaining employment for disadvantaged youth.

Abstract (150 Words)

There is growing public awareness of the pervasiveness of the individual, community, societal and economic costs of mental health and wellbeing. The workplace is a domain of stress triggering mental health and wellbeing risks. Tourism fundamentally depends on chefs and cooks to both produce sustenance and create experiences for destination visitors, yet nearly every developed economy reports sustained skills shortages in this vital tourism occupation. While the Orwellian themes of poor working conditions, low pay and unsociable hours are routinely rehearsed, in the exploratory study this paper reports we ask is there evidence of these factors being the antecedents to mental health and wellbeing risks. We find, in a serious of astonishingly candid interviews with 16 experienced professional chefs that indeed these factors threatened their state of mind and wellbeing. More than this they reported resorting to destructive coping mechanisms. The paper concludes by proposing pathways forward, to address industrial and occupational cultures that apparently perpetuate mental health and wellbeing risks.

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Are things just too hot in the kitchen? Chefs’ mental health and wellbeing

There is growing public awareness of the pervasiveness of the individual, community, societal and economic costs of mental health and wellbeing. The workplace is a domain of stress triggering mental health and wellbeing risks. Tourism fundamentally depends on chefs and cooks to both produce sustenance and create experiences for destination visitors, yet nearly every developed economy reports sustained skills shortages in this vital tourism occupation. While the Orwellian themes of poor working conditions, low pay and unsociable hours are routinely rehearsed, in the exploratory study this paper reports we ask is there evidence of these factors being the antecedents to mental health and wellbeing risks. We find, in a serious of astonishingly candid interviews with 16 experienced professional chefs that indeed these factors threatened their state of mind and wellbeing. More than this they reported resorting to destructive coping mechanisms. The paper concludes by proposing pathways forward, to address industrial and occupational cultures that apparently perpetuate mental health and wellbeing risks.