No doubt there’s a ton of pressure at the highest echelon of kitchens. Timing, perfect movements, etc. and add to that continual criticism from diners and professionals alike, the constant need to evolve but stay true to one’s ethos, the need to surprise and wow an increasingly jaded crowd or perhaps an increasingly sophisticated and well-traveled set, serving food to some people with unrealistic expectations and uninformed perspectives about the food they’re eating, the threat of batshit crazy Yelpers who - while batshit crazy - still can negatively effect one’s business (damn extortionists), ah the business side and low margins, the business side in handling distributors, employment issues, the amount of staff it costs to run such a tight ship - I would assume it’s not unlike the stress at the high level of athletic/dance/musical competition. It’s not for everyone, and like MMA, it takes its toll I’m sure. Almost nobody escapes unscathed.
With that said, I’ve always been impressed by how calm and relaxed the team in the kitchen seems at The Restaurant at Meadowood. They have an impressario of sorts, an “expediter” who tells the kitchen how/when to fire up dishes based on the diners’ eating times. Then you see several chefs just very content to work on their respective stations. Of course there’s a lot of inherent stress and pressure at any very high-level kitchen, but they appear to be doing an admirable job of managing it. Music playing, and people smiling there. It’s an extremely impressive operation. That’s why like at Meadowood and Saison they allow people to see the open kitchen, and in fact, they’re rather inviting.