Is High Career Achievement the Prediction of Burnout?

In the last years, the media have frequently carried reports of many occasions of the retirement of chefs because of the high pressure. Since top cookers were afraid of losing authority some of them even committed suicide. This raises the issue of whether media influence caused the seclusion of prominent restaurateurs or there was another reason for their retreat.

Echikson puts forward the view that the “price” is too high for chiefdom arguing about the sudden suicide of French chef Bernard Loiseau who was the winner of the highest European culinary award. Furthermore, Echikson adds that edition “GaultMillau” put only seventeen points for the quality of cooking in his restaurant La Côte d’Or. On the basis of the evidence that the evaluation was a few days before Loiseau’s death, it seems fair to suggest that the strict critic and pressure of newspapers made the restaurateur take his own life with the hunting rifle.

Similarly, Henley’s views rest on the assumption that there is unbearable media pressure on the best chefs suggesting Benoît Violier’s death was the result of the terrible fear of losing his third Michelin star. He shot himself with the firearm at home from “resentment at the tyranny of a system that, many chefs feel, toys with hard-won reputations for reasons that all too often seem unclear or even arbitrary, can have a terrible psychological effect” (Henley). Likewise, Bilefsky and Severson point out that Violier was “the latest victim of a high-pressure world that demands perfection shuns signs of weakness and promotes a culture where culinary demigods can be demoted with the stroke of a pen”. There is no doubt in my mind that Violier could not bear the constant tension of the authorities.

The obvious conclusion to be drawn is that chefs are often forced to retire because of too much demand for the chiefdom. Benoît Violier, as well as Bernard Loiseau, was under total media pressure. They could not struggle with their own fears of being not so highly respected.


Henley, J. (2016). Benoît Violier’s apparent suicide highlights pressures on top chefs. The Guardian.

Echikson, W. (2003). Death of a chef. The New Yorker.

Bilefsky, D. & Severson, K. (2016). Benoît Violier’s Death Shines Light on High-Pressure Restaurant World. The New York Times.

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