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Chef burnout: the culinary creative class sounds off on Ferran Adria’s two-year break

Canadian chefs are sounding off about the announcement by Ferran Adria, Spanish chef extraordinaire, that he is temporarily closing his restaurant El Bulli because he is tuckered out. As we reported two weeks ago, Adria is taking a two-year sabbatical because “it is tremendously stressful working 15 hours a day while still being creative.”

The Globe and Mail spoke to Calgary’s Justine Leboe (Rush), Ottawa’s Marc Lepine (Atelier) and Vancouver’s Robert Clark (Vancouver C) about chef fatigue as an emerging restaurant trend. All three chefs agree that the main cause of exhaustion is the pressure to be creative. “The fatigue from the creative side of it is the most challenging aspect of the job,” says Leboe, whose creativity has concocted plastic-wrapped blood-orange ice pops paired with scissors for snipping off the tops.

Lepine says the perceived need to change menus every six to eight weeks is a rampant trend in the culinary world. “Most of the chefs I know are constantly under pressure to come up with new dishes and better ideas.”

“In Europe, most good chefs ask the question of how they can do less work,” says Leboe. “But in North America, we’re always trying to figure out how to turn the tables one more time each night… That’s not a complaint. It’s just the way it is.”

• When chefs burn out in the kitchen [Globe and Mail]

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