The Truth About Working Holidays in a Hospitality Management Job
One thing almost every chef or culinary student will tell you is that you can kiss your holidays goodbye as soon as you start your new career. Most aspiring cooks know that they’ll have to work long hours as they move up the ranks, often giving up weekends and evenings in order to prove their dedication.
What they might not know, however, is that traditional holidays are also required working days, especially if you’re employed at a restaurant that caters to a holiday crowd. Hotels and buffets are notorious for this, as are higher end restaurants in large cities, where holidays often signal a night out.
And if you work in a casino or another facility open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the holiday hours can stretch even longer.
The Holiday Shift Rotation
Although every restaurant and hospitality employer is different, most of them operate on a seniority-type scale. This means that the longer you’ve been a part of the company—and the more time you’ve spend demonstrating your loyalty—the better your chances for holidays off.
If you’re new to a company, then, expect to get the worst shifts and to work more than your fair share of national and religious holidays.
You might also be offered a chance to “rate” your holidays to choose which ones are most important for you to have off. This type of scheduling tends to work well when there are several employees at the same skill level, since you can often shuffle the hours you’ve been given with your coworkers.
How to Cope with Holiday Hours
In some cases, especially if you’re fresh from culinary school, there won’t be any way to avoid the holiday rush. If you’ve never had to work the holidays before, this can be a strain, especially if you’re used to spending the major ones (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve) with family.
Fortunately, most employers know this, which is why they have incentives in place to ease the burden. You might be offered time-and-a-half wages or an extra holiday bonus.
Sometimes, a party or an on-site celebration can help make you feel better about the holiday. You might also find that your guests are more sympathetic to your schedule, since tips tend to be a lot more generous on the important days.
Of course, there’s also the benefit of knowing that you’re doing exactly what you set out to do. Most individuals who become a chef or cook or hotel manager do it because they love what they do and they love to make customers happy.
Providing guests with great service and a holiday they won’t forget is part of the job—and doing it well provides a sense of satisfaction no matter what day of the year it might be.
Read, Read and Read Some MoreOne of the best suggestions I have for anyone thinking of going to culinary school or just getting into the restaurant industry is to read everything you can get your hands on. Learn from professional chefs who have worked in the industry and those who have taught in culinary schools.
There are many great books available to get you started in your culinary education and I suggest you read as much as possible before making that big decision to make sure this is the right move for you. Below is just a sample of books you might be interested in checking out.
For a much more comprehensive list of books for aspiring culinary, baking and restaurant management students, I suggest checking out my post on books for future culinary students and chefs.