Pros and cons of being a Northern hospitality chef

I guess every job in the world comes with its pros and cons. Whether it is the lack of free time, immense routine or shitty pay to effort ratio. We have all been there and will probably end up once more. Since the pros and cons list will give a pretty accurate point of view of whats actually happening, I’ve listed five and five.


  • Free time.

As the season peaks from january til april, being a bit slower to and from that time, you basically have 6 months off of a year. That sound pretty luxurious to an office worker doing nine to five with only a month or so off of the whole year. If you keep track of your spendings, you should easily manage with your saving the whole 6 months off  and do quite a bit of traveling. Don’t be expecting buying boats and sniffing cocaine as you would burn through your money fast:)

  • Effort to pay ratio.

The effort to pay ratio is probably one of a kind. The kitchen jobs are relatively easy and you can manage by knowing the basics. Finland is very strict about work hours and applies different bonuses. The hourly pay you agree on works as a base salary. Extra to that you get different bonus rates like working from five to nine and the bonus is growing as the time flies toward the night. I ended up working on the first of january which was a sunday so I got paid 4 times my hourly rate for cooking porridge in the morning(holy shit!).

  • Meeting fellow travelers.

This on is probably one of my favourites. Every year the staff changes vastly. You get to meet new lovely people from all around the world(mostly Europe though as it is easier to get a working permit). It’s always great to share stories and have a beer or ten with people with the same mentality as you.

  • Activites.

Depending on where you end up, you have a variety of things to do with your days off. Befriend a safari guide and you’ll be spending every free moment snowmobiling through the woods, petting reindeer or flying through the snow with huskies. Skipasses and equipment rental is usually for free if you end up working next to a skislope. Auroras fill the sky every other day so you’ll be spending a lot of time outside during the night just to get your camera settings right for the perfect trippy photo.

  • Saving money.

Working in hospitality generally gives you the opportunity to eat at work. If you really wanted, you could probably spend zero money on food. That been said, it is really tempting to go out to drink and eat with your coworkers as partying is going on 24/7. However most if not all places around provide a discount to all hospitality workers in the area. The biggest mark on your salary is going to be your room rent, which is totally acceptable for what you get. Be ready to share a room though.


After a long winter season you start imagining all the summer BBQs.


So now to the cons:

  • Lack of creative work.

For me, a creative person, this is a nightmare. Big hotel chain menus are simple and pretty basic. Although there is nothing wrong with the food, you won’t be learning a lot of new things. You always have to do things by the book. Thankfully I’ve got a few hobbies that keep my creational side busy.

  • The overwhelming kaamos.

Kaamos is the finnish word for polar night. While you still get a bit of light from 10 am to 14 pm, you really start to feel the lack of sunlight touching your skin. Waking up when it’s dark and going home after work when it’s dark makes you lose the sense of time. No wonder Finns tend to top up their vodka glasses around that time.

  • Distance

No not from home. If I would complain about that, I probably would not have moved here. I’m talking about the distance between villages and cities. For example the closest post office from where I live is about 50km. As I don’t have a car I am totally relying on buses which tend to be scarce and have a weird timetable. From this year, the nearest police office to get your citizenship is 175 km away as I was told(like whaaaat?!).

  • Bureaucracy

If you are used to high speed online managing of your stuff, like in Estonia, it really gets annoying if just getting an internet bank account takes you a month. Everything is done by sending paper mail back and forth public offices to get stamped and signed. Sucks.

  • Hostel life

There is nothing wrong with proper backpacking hostel life while traveling, but if you add working to the mix, it is not what you want to do for a longer period. Atleast this is my opinion. I really can’t be bothered waking up at 24 pm if I have an early morning shift to two people loudly discussing who has to buy beer the next day. Add the shit stains in the common restrooms toilet bowls and you have the perfect cocktail of I don’t want to live here.


Routine menus don’t let you use your creativity to create something different like this beef blood meringue dessert.


All of that being said, you can clearly see how the pros mentioned have a lot more influence over the cons. I actually struggled to come up with the last two cons, but I promised five so I had to dig really in the depths of things bothering me.

Have you been working abroad? Let me know your pros and cons in the comment section!

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