A Day In The Life Of A Chef — Knives Fire And Passion

A riveting look inside a day in the life of a chef in a busy professional kitchen. Fueled by knives, fire, and a passion for culinary excellence.

A day in the life of a chef is a hard one, two words describe it. Controlled Chaos! On a normal day for me, I start at 7 a.m. Say hi to the breakfast and function chefs, and make sure all our deliveries have come in. If not get on the phone and ask two questions, “Where is it”?, “When will it be here”?

The other day I got to work to find no duck legs so I got on the phone and asked “Where are my duck legs”? “They haven’t turned up yet”. I asked the two questions, only to be told they were not on the order.


Yes, they were I ordered them, and I proceeded to yell at the company rep. Telling him I would never use their services again. I tell them I need them now, they are frozen and I must salt them down ready to confit.

So, the supplier did a hot run for me great! After getting off the phone I went through my order sheets only to find that I didn’t order the duck legs at all. I’m bad, I never rang them back to apologize.

A Day In The Life Of A Chef


A Day In The Life Of A Chef Running A Busy Kitchen

I then go to my office which I share with the function coordinator. She gave me a list of menu requests for three possible functions we could get in the coming weeks. She needs prices by 3 pm today I look at the first one and say “How much do they want to spend”? “That’s going to cost them”. I’ll have some menu planning to do later.

I throw them on my desk. I go and change into my chef’s jacket and apron, and grab my knife case. I enter the kitchen to find my function chef stressed I ask “What’s up”? And was told that the function at 12.30 wants to eat lunch at 12.00 and it has turned from 50 to 60. She thinks that the chicken skewers are not enough.

Now I tend to listen to my function chef as she does this every day. So, I rip open a box of chicken breasts that were for tomorrow and start making skewers. After I get on the phone and order more chicken breasts to replace the ones I have just used. So I don’t forget, all good disasters diverted.

A Day In The Life Of A Chef — Lunch Service

I start powering through the lunch prep and some of the dinner prep. This will take the pressure off my sous chef who starts at 2 pm. The early lunch orders start trickling in from the bar, so I do them. The restaurant informs me that they have just taken a booking for a 20 top at 12.30 today.

I quickly check what prep I’ve done make sure we have enough and set up the front line. My next chef starts at 11.30 am. So I helped the function chef push out the function at 12. I then help with lunch, cook mains, call, and plate. Lunch service seems to be busier than usual, with large groups of casuals.

We do the 20 this is now in the middle of it, controlled chaos. The waitress doing the 20 top forgets to put through the sides for the table, which slows the kitchen down. My fry guy starts to panic so I get the function chef to help for 20 minutes, so, we can get on top again.

A four-top order 4 well-done steaks. I quickly charmark them throw them in a pan, and slide them into the back of the scorching oven. It goes on like this for the next hour and a half, relentless.

It’s now 2 o’clock and the function chef has finished her prep for the next day and asks if she can go as she has been here since 5 am. I say that’s fine as my sous chef is here now.

I go through the prep I’ve done with my sous chef and start an order list for tomorrow. Double-check the function sheets, making sure I haven’t missed anything. Go to my office and do some online ordering, check my e-mails, and cost the function menu requests for next week.

Smoked Beef and Pumpkin Puree
Smoked Beef and Pumpkin Puree

A Day In The Life Of A Chef — Halfway Through The Day

It’s now 3 o’clock, I go back into the kitchen and bone out the chickens, with the chef who started at 2. We make desserts for dinner tonight. It’s now 4 o’clock and my sous chef comes back from the afternoon briefing. And tells me we have an 8, 10, and 12 top booked at 7.30, on top of that we have a function of 100 which one of my chefs is doing.

Now I need three things soda water, an energy drink, and Panadol. My stomach is starting to feel like a foul churning mess, and I need something to get through tonight.

Over the many years of cooking. I have learned to love the fear. The fear that only a chef understands. Some can handle it, some cannot, and for some chefs, the fear becomes overwhelming and all-consuming. I’ve seen kitchens go down because of that fear.

When I say go down, I mean food stops coming out of the kitchen people wait hours, game is over. I’ve seen chefs crack under that pressure. Some never recover, and end up leaving the industry, sad thing to see. That fear is the fear of failure, failure to produce the goods. I have learned to love it, embrace it, control it, and the other chefs around me feed off my positive reinforcement.

Simple Rump Steak Salad With Roasted Vegetables
Rump Steak Salad With Roasted Vegetables


A Day In The Life Of A Chef — Dinner Service

It is now 5.30 and here we go again. From 6 to 9.30 pm, I run the pass and plate mains and help larder, the 12 top turns up half an hour late. So that takes some of the pressure off, but we still must deal with casuals, my sous chef is a machine. Cooking steaks, chicken, and lamb to perfection, she doesn’t miss a beat.

The function we cut it really fine with the roasted lamb. Amazingly the chef managed to control the portion sizes and make it last. Dinner starts to slow down at 9 p.m. With some late casuals coming in.   

Now it’s 9.45 my feet hurt I have just realized I have eaten nothing all day and feel really hungry. I will eat when I get home. I do the last of the ordering and check the functions again for the following days. Think about specials for tomorrow, and check on my chef’s and kitchen hands everything is okay now.

I go to my office and peel off my sweat-drenched chef’s jacket, put on my street clothes and leather jacket. I checked my phone 1 text and 2 missed calls from the wife, she will be asleep when I get home. The day in the life of a chef is a grueling 15-hour day, sometimes longer.

A Day In The Life Of A Chef — It’s Over

I want to do this all again tomorrow, and you ask why. Because I love it, it’s part of me. Cooking is in my blood in my soul, everybody comes to me for the answers. I solve the problems my kitchens are the heart of the restaurant.

My sous chef is my right hand, an excellent cook, calm happy, and friendly. My chefs and cooks are the backbone of my kitchen the workhorses who put up with my mood swings.

All hungry to learn, some showing lots of promise. My pot washers and my kitchen would not function without these people. They work tirelessly washing dishes, changing bins, peeling vegetables, and doing basic prep. I really care about them and thank them for their hard work.

Cooking Is A Science And A Skill

Cooking is a science and a skill that requires a deep understanding of both the technical and creative aspects. Cooking is also a matter of precise measurements and ratios.

For example, baking is particularly sensitive to accurate measurements and temperatures. A slight deviation in the amount of an ingredient or cooking degrees can result in a completely different outcome. So, to help you here is a handy little unit converter tool for cooking without guesswork.

  1. How Hot Can A Restaurant Kitchen Get?

    Restaurant kitchens often reach temperatures of 40°C (100°F) or more. With ovens, grills, and burners going, it is a hot, fast-paced environment. I’ve worked in restaurant kitchens where butter will sit out on a bench for 20 minutes and melt in the heat of the kitchen.

    In the life of a chef, the one thing that frustrates me is when a supplier walks into my kitchen. And they comment on how hot it is. I’m like wow! Is that right, I never noticed.

  2. What Are Some Of The First Tasks A Chef Tackles In The Morning?

    Some common morning tasks in the life of a chef include inspecting the morning deliveries and planning menus. Prep work like making sauces and butchering meat. Also, meeting with sous chefs to coordinate the day-to-day running of the kitchen.

    As a head chef, these are the tasks I do every morning. A professional kitchen needs structure. This is so it functions like a well-oiled machine in service times.

  3. What Role Do Knives Play In A Chef’s Work?

    My knives are my tools of the trade. They are my most important pieces of equipment. Good knives that are kept sharp allow me to chop precisely and quickly. Many chefs bring their own knives to work and consider them an extension of their right arm.

    Knives are arguably the most important tools for any chef. They play several key roles in a chef’s daily work. My chef’s knives are like an artist’s brush or a surgeon’s scalpel. They allow chefs like me to do exactly what I intend with ingredients. That eventually become exquisite dishes.

Final Thoughts From A Chef

The Life of a chef is a grueling 15-hour day. In my restaurant kitchen, being a professional chef requires immense passion, dedication, and grit. This goes for all professional kitchens.

The hours are long, the work is labor-intensive and the environment is hot and chaotic. From the minute I enter the kitchen at 7 a.m. I’m on the go prepping ingredients and planning menus. To the final moments of service ending close to 11 p.m. You will need to operate like a machine – unwavering in your commitment to culinary excellence.

The intensity peaks during rush hours, when simultaneous tasks require my complete focus and agility. I wield my knives with precision and grace, transforming raw ingredients into refined artistry on the plate.

The flames from the stovetop accentuate the fact that the kitchen can be a hazardous, unforgiving place. However, I thrive under pressure. I feel truly in my element among the sights, sounds, and smells of the kitchen.

My deep culinary knowledge and experience enable me to lead my kitchen team fearlessly through the coordinated dance of a busy lunch and dinner service.

The physical stamina, mental toughness, and inner fire it takes to make it as a professional chef will empower you. After a glimpse into the day in the life of a chef, it’s clear that my commitment to excellence, creativity, and work ethic set me apart.