Working in isolated environments enables culture of bullying among elite chefs, research finds

Cardiff University

Bullying, violence and aggressive behaviour among chefs employed in fine dining restaurants is enabled by their working environments, research from Cardiff University has found.

The study shows how working in closed, hidden away kitchen environments left chefs feeling isolated and led to a sense that they could act in ways that would not be possible elsewhere.

The team, from Cardiff Business School, interviewed 47 chefs employed in Michelin-starred fine dining restaurants around the world.

They found feelings of isolation were common among interviewees who described kitchens as ‘separate’, ‘detached’ and ‘alienating’ places to work. However, they also found that with isolation also came a sense of being freed from external scrutiny. Isolation created opportunities to, as one chef explained, ‘act in a different way’.

A different moral universe

Lead author Dr Robin Burrow said: “Misbehaviour among chefs is something we know a lot about from TV and media coverage. Up to now research has blamed this on male-dominated cultures and extreme pressure to get things done quicker, faster and to the highest possible standard.

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