Chef’s Widow

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A chef’s widow is a term used to refer to a person who is married to a chef. Chefs spend so many hours in work, at antisocial hours, that their wives and partners barely see them. I am married to a chef, a blog post about life, work, travel, and kids as a chef wife.

chef widow

Jealous?  Don’t be. They call us chef’s widows for a reason. Chef’s are often married to the job. Their hours are pretty unbelievable and chefs don’t go home just because their shift is over. A high level of dedication is a requirement to make it in the hospitality industry. A post on what is a chef’s widow and what it’s like to be a chef’s widow.

No, my chef doesn’t rustle up gourmet meals for me at home every night, he cooks maybe once a year, if that. He’s never home to cook.

If he does cook it’s more likely to be instant noodles than some little fancy meal. Chef’s pay isn’t great either, we’ll never be rich.

His perpetual and unpredictable absence is one of the reasons we eventually quit the rat race to travel the world. Likewise homeschooling works well for us. School timetables, weekly and termly, just don’t fit with the chef’s hours.

What It’s Like To Be a Chef’s Widow

5 reasons chefs don’t cook at home.

  • Chefs are always in work.
  • Chefs have had enough of cooking by the time they get home.
  • Chefs are unable to use domestic kitchen equipment and flounder around helplessly cursing pans for not being hot enough.
  • Chefs do not go to the fridge and decide to rustle up something quick with a bit of broccoli and a lump of week old Stilton. They can’t function without ready made pots of stock and every ingredient known to mankind within easy reach.
  • I don’t let him, he’s messy and very uneconomical and it’s my budget he’d be blowing, not the hotel’s.

Actually, 6, he likes my cooking.

Married to a Chef, Realities

  • I see very little of my husband.
  • He has 1, sometimes 2, days off a week and they are unpredictable, erratic and rarely on the weekend.
  • Shifts and hours are subject to change at very short notice. ” I’ll be back at 9pm” can often turn into well past midnight depending on staffing, awkward customers, equipment failures and punctured bike tyres on the way home.
  • 3 am by phone calls from the hotel happen too often. The breakfast chef starts at 3am and often doesn’t show up. He usually goes in to cover this sort of emergency, even on his day off.
  • He works Christmas Day and New Year, every year. He will be working while the world is partying.

Why a Person Married to a Chef is a Chef’s Widow

Honestly, I rather enjoy being a chef’s widow, absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that, so we appreciate it when he is home.

The boys scream and shout ” Daddy!” and hurl themselves in his general direction if they hear his key in the door. I quite like having all that extra time to myself, not everyone can handle being a chef’s wife, but it suits me.

Perks of Being a Chef Widow.

There are some perks to being a chef’s partner. We have to go into the hotel on his days off and pay surprise visits to check that everything is running smoothly and the food is as it should be when he’s not around.

That goes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, across two restaurants. That’s a lot of top-notch free food and the boys are learning so much about the culinary world and how hotels run. They are so proud to go to “Dad’s work”.

We usually stay at the hotel over Christmas, it’s the only way we can spend any time with Dad on Christmas Day. He has time for opening presents in the morning and takes a couple of hours off in the afternoon between lunch and dinner to swim and play with us.

His current hotel is a very nice luxury 5 star in Port Douglas Australia. We get a rather splendid lunch which I don’t have to cook myself and I have time to relax in the pool with a mojito.

The kids are rather too accustomed to 5-star luxury and huge resort pools, it’s their norm, their Christmas tradition in Port Douglas. I don’t think they’d like a good old fashioned London Christmas like I used to know.

There are other foodie treats, like trips to local dairies and trying all the cheeses, the red carpet is always rolled out for such a potentially big customer. Discounts for hotel stays and food come in handy too, we once did a driving tour of the States, he was working for a big international chain then so we never paid for a hotel.

Another perk that only Australian ladies will appreciate. I’ve met Manu!

Perks aside, I like a bit of solitude, I’m more than content to get early nights 5-6 days a week and not have to worry about other adults and their plans. I’m a bit of an introvert and like my own company so being married to a chef suits me. I can’t be bothered to socialize much these days, I certainly wouldn’t want to go out without the kids and we don’t do babysitters. Net result, we don’t have a social life.

That would come as a huge surprise to those who know me from way back. I can go to bed with a book at the same time as the children, often all in the same bed, all with our books. It makes us a very tightly-knit little group.

Having plenty of time on my hands also allows me to write this blog. I was able to create a stay-at-home income, thanks to marriage to a chef. This location independent income allowed us to travel full-time for over 6 years. Chef was able to quit the kitchens and be a full-time traveller and dad. A digital nomad chef, there’s a thing!

So, no, I don’t complain about being a chef’s widow. Some do, there are an awful lot of divorced chefs out there.

I knew he was a chef when I met him and the hours have, if anything, become easier as he has gained seniority. Juggling two careers was tricky in the early days, I worked 9 to 5 and he just didn’t, but we got through those years and the years of early parenthood and childcare.

I think our shared goals have always been a help, both of us knowing we were working hard to take us closer to a dream. The homeschooling obviously helps, the kids are always around on Dad’s days off and we can take holidays outside of weekends and school holidays which are, of course, his busiest times.

So yes, I was a chef’s widow.  I can honestly say I’m quite happy to be one. See Chef’s own website here.

Leaving Hospitality, He Quit Being a Chef

At the end of our 6 or 7 years of full-time travel, we found ourselves stranded in Australia behind closed borders for the lockdown years. My income as a travel blogger was fully supporting our family back then.

The travel shutdowns during Covid decimated my earning power, and Chef had to return to the kitchens. He didn’t go back to 5 star resorts, he found work in a little bar-come restaurant in Port Douglas Australia. He hated it. The tiny kitchen, bad food, poor management, bad pay and perpetual lack of staff sealed the lid on the coffin of his Chef career.

He got a job working on a boat on the Great Barrier Reef. The money is better, it’s fun, its part-time, and he loves it. Hopefully, I’ll never be a Chef’s widow again. Our income reports from 2020 are in the related posts, below, plus some more recent updates on family life for us here at World Travel Family.

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About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

4 thoughts on “Chef’s Widow”

  1. I understand the popular culture nomenclature of “Che’s widow” as I lived it for a long time. Once your chef husband actually dies, you won’t utilize those words so easily. Being an widow in the “legal term” for less than a year, I can say that the meanings are entirely different. Best of luck to you ladies.

  2. You definitely have to want the job or the long hours are not worth it! 🙂 Found your site when I searched chef’s widow and can’t wait to read more. 🙂 I love this article as I can relate to so much of it. (I’ve been married to a chef for 19 years.) I look forward to following along in your family adventures on Bloglovin’. 🙂

  3. One of my good friends here in Paris (she’s the photographer who did our engagement photos) is married to a chef, I know from her stories that the chef’s widow is a real thing. My fiance is a manager in IT and it’s similar, though on a smaller scale — 12-hour work days, early morning calls about a server that’s gone down, going away for business trips to fix this or that…anyway I’d love to read more about your chef’s section here on the site!

    • Hi Edna, my husband, The Chef, has just set up his own blog (well, I did, actually). So all cheffy stuff is being passed over to him. He’s only got one post up so far, but once we start really travelling I hope he can give a running commentary on food, prices, what to eat where, plus cheffy industry stuff. He’s at Thanks for commenting!


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