Chef Dies After Working 100-Hour Weeks

Chef Dies After Working 100-Hour Weeks

I’ve blogged a lot about how hard cheffing is and how much respect I’ve got for the poor souls who beaver away doing 18-hour days in Michelin restaurants, often without complaint.

During my stint as a chef, I met a lot of them. Some were so tired at the end of their shift, that not wanting to waste valuable sleeping time getting a night bus home in the six hours they had before the next gruelling shift, they would sometimes bed down on the dry store floor – and then get up with frozen joints and a cricked neck to do it all again.

But if you want an example of the dangers of working these sort of hours, then look no further than the tragic case of Nathan Laity (above), a young man from Cornwall who moved up to London to pursue his dream of making it as a top chef.

Nathan, 23, became so exhausted after working 100 hours a week as sous chef at the Tate Modern, he died after contracting tonsillitis, his distraught family said.

He came down with a sore throat but continued to work 14 hours a day – 98 hours a week – for 27 straight days without any time off, it has emerged.

He died in his sleep, and doctors say his immune system had simply shut down.

His mother Tracey, who discovered he was dead on Mother’s Day, told her local paper, The Cornishman: “His body just switched off. He just went to sleep and never woke up.

“He was a lovely boy and just one trip to the doctors would have saved him. But he was ambitious.

“Nathan loved his job. He just kept going and he was working very hard. He was very stubborn about it.

“He was very talented. The head chef at the Tate said Nathan would have gone to the top.”

During his short career, Nathan worked at top restaurants in Portugal and cooked for celebrities including DJ Chris Evans and footballer Alan Shearer, joining the Tate Modern in 2008.

Nathan was buried today. The poor bugger.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


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