ASK AMY: Chef whistling is a real kitchen nightmare
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I’m worried I’m going to blow one day and tell him to shut up! I don’t want to get fired.
Now is not the time to change jobs. I think if he knew how annoying it was, he might stop.
What can I do?
— Line Cook
Dear Line Cook: A person who whistles the same tune for 17 minutes nonstop might not be able to stop without great effort. This compulsive whistling might, in fact, be one behaviour that helps to keep your chef focused and on-task in this very busy and dangerous environment. This may be how he quiets his mind, in order to multitask.
One observation is that — these days — whistling while you work seems to be a potentially dangerous virus-spreader.
Assuming that he and the rest of the kitchen staff take necessary precautions, you should work on your own ability to control your reaction to this nuisance.
My own (brief, unsuccessful) career as a waitress (and my many viewings of “Kitchen Nightmares”) gives me a tiny bit of insight into the dynamic of a typical restaurant kitchen. You likely have very little influence (and no actual power) to control your boss’s behaviour. Exploding in rage would most likely NOT lead to a positive outcome for you.
You could try various techniques for tuning this out (ask others in the kitchen how they do it). Humming to yourself, or training your ear to tune into a different sound (the sizzle of the grill, the clanging of the plates) is worth a try. This is called selective auditory attention, and with practice, it will help you to cope while you contemplate taking another job.