Tips on Kitchen Wellness from 5 Industry Pros

By Kendyl Kearly | Will Blunt, Erin Lettera, and Jaclyn Warren


Kendyl Kearly
Will Blunt, Erin Lettera, and Jaclyn Warren
Chef and Restaurateur Francesca Chaney of Sol Sips
Chef and Restaurateur Francesca Chaney of Sol Sips


In our 100-plus restaurant visits for this issue of Rising Stars, we asked almost everyone the same question: During all this chaos, how are you taking care of yourself? Many of the responses were encouraging—running, biking, yoga—but we also received a lot of blank pauses with the unspoken answer: “I’m not.”


In a 2017 study conducted by Unite trade union, almost half of chefs reported working between 48 and 60 hours per week, and 14 percent worked more than 60. Due to the hours and fatigue, 69 percent believed their health has been negatively impacted, 51 percent have had depression, and 78 percent have had or nearly had an accident at work from tiredness. 


My biggest tip for self-care is that I’ve been going into the kitchen more at nightnight has been very peaceful,” says Francesca Chaney, chef and owner of Sol Sips. “I can blast my music, be really creative, and enjoy the kitchen without the intensity of having tickets coming in. It allows me to love the space and appreciate it.”


Wellness is intrinsically connected to Chaney’s business model. After working at an apothecary shop, she started selling her own health drinks. Sol Sips is now a plant-based concept that aims to make wellness more accessible to its Bushwick, Brooklyn community by providing meal kits and hosting sliding-income-scale brunches. When things settle down, Chaney wants to keep working toward a nutritionist degree so she can serve personalized plates based on health. Oh yeah, and she’s also a doula. 


“The wellness world has been hyperinflated,” Chaney says. “My family has used these herbs and things for years that are now becoming buzz words. [Sol Sips] is reclaiming the things my parents and grandparents worked with.”


To respect the needs of her team, Chaney has been checking in with everyone, allowing flexibility in scheduling, and understanding that interactions with strangers can be more draining than usual, so she swaps employees off between front- and back-of-house roles. For overworked chefs, Chaney recommends smoothies with maca root, yoga (A few sun salutations never hurt anyone.), and eating breakfast, not just tasting from the line. She says, “It helps me to know that I've had time to nourish myself before I nourish everyone else.” 


How is the industry taking care of itself?

Bartender Natasha Bermudez, Llama San









“I started doing things I wasn't always comfortable with, like biking across the bridge. I've become a bit more daring.”











Chef Adrienne Cheatham, Sunday Best










“I used to dance and wanted to get back into it. Dance is very cathartic.”












Bartender Haley Traub, Attaboy








“I meet with my therapist biweekly on Zoom. When this all first started, I had a beautiful balance of yoga, biking and focusing on physical health and mental wellbeing, which has fallen by the wayside. That balance has been hard to strike but something I am working on.”









Roaster Reagan Petrehn, Felix Roasting Co









“I started surfing a lot this summer. That is my source of respite. Getting in the water is so restorative.”









Chef Matt Le-Khac, Bolero





“I meditate and teach mediation. The hard thing about COVID is you spend time in the kitchen and want to drink after.”











Chef Noah Poses, The Fulton




"I always run a lot and have been running literally every single day. That was a positive. One of the things I always wanted to do was become a competitive marathon runner, so I’ve been doing 200 miles a month.”

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