‘Yes Chef’: life at the vanguard of culinary excellence

Robin Burrow*, John Smith, Christalla Yakinthou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article foregrounds the experiences of a young chef (‘John’) during the early years of his career in the fine dining industry. His descriptions paint a vivid picture of life as an elite chef, which is thrilling, exciting and rewarding, but also mundane, degrading and dehumanizing. The environment John describes is characterized by strong ideologies and him working hard to align himself with a highly gendered (often fantastical) image of what it means to be a haute cuisine chef. John’s narrative informs our understanding of what life is like for this small and rarely studied occupational group. In particular readers gain a detailed, candid and thought-provoking insight into extreme cultures of commitment and practice. John tells us how workers are socialized into accepting, adopting and propagating extreme workplace behaviour. This account speaks to a long-standing interest in extreme workplace practice and commitment, identity regulation and masculinity at work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)673-681
Number of pages9
JournalWork, Employment and Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 21 Aug 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, © The Author(s) 2015.


  • aggression
  • apprenticeship
  • bullying
  • chef
  • fine dining
  • narrative
  • restaurant
  • violence

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