Balancing the Grind with Sushil Aryal, Head Chef, Miss Pearl Bar + Dining

Sushil Ayral is the Head Chef of Miss Pearl Bar + Dining. Throughout his career, Ayralhas worked under some of the best chefs in Australia at venues including Cumulus Inc, Spice Temple, Vue Du Monde and Cutler and Co, and opened Moon Under Water with Josh Murphy at The Builders Arms Hotel. Ayral now leads the team of the Southbank restaurant, Miss Pearl Bar + Dining.

Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to?

I came to Australia from Nepal to study engineering, but fell in love with cooking while working part time at the renowned restaurant Brown Sugar in Bondi with chef Neil Gottheiner. I became fascinated by food and immersed by the energy of a commercial kitchen.

Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to train under some of the best chefs in Australia at venues including Cumulus Inc, Spice Temple, Vue Du Monde and Cutler and Co, and I opened Moon Under Water with Josh Murphy at The Builders Arms Hotel. 

I took some time to travel, in pursuit of inspiration across South America, Europe, Asia and North America and upon my return, I landed my dream job as head chef of Miss Pearl Bar + Dining, leading the team and drawing on the inspiration of my travels – I feel like I’ve truly hit the jackpot with my career. 

We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?

A typical day for me is being woken up by my two kids (a 4 and 2-year-old) at around 7 o’clock in morning. They both sneak into the room and jump on top of me; it’s a great alarm clock to have! We’ll cook breakfast together and I will help them get ready for school.

After dropping them to school, I come back home and take my dog for a walk and grab a coffee at my favourite local café. I’ll then come home and have breakfast and make myself lunch before going to the gym for an hour.

From the gym I’ll head straight to work – where all the action is happening! I work out the priorities for the day and plan my day accordingly – usually this involves prep, cooking and some admin work. I’ll then ensure the team is ready for service, and then it’s show time! Once service finishes, myself and all the staff have a meal together and unwind post service.

We then start packing down and I do the ordering for the next day. I usually get back home at around 11pm, I’ll make myself a cup of tea (or pour a glass of red – depending on my mood!) and relax for an hour before heading off to sleep. 

Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it?

I think maintaining a work-life balance is an integral part of being a healthy human being. If you have a good balance then everyday becomes more enjoyable. The moment you struggle to maintain it, you feel down, overwhelmed and perhaps anxious (I know this to be true for me!).

Six years ago, I used to work 60+ hours a week – I had no social life and I struggled to make friends. I knew I had to do something about it. So, once I was able to reduce my working hours to around 40 per week, it felt like all of a sudden there was so much more time to do things I enjoy. Since then, there has been no turning back!

I also realised it isn’t necessarily just about the number of hours you work, but mostly how you manage your time and tasks accordingly. Once you work out an effective way to organise yourself, you have more time to look after yourself. 

Change is constant, and it’s essential for growth. Have you made any lifestyle changes in the past year to improve your work-life balance?

Yes, big time! I’ve recently started going to the gym and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. I feel more energetic, I have all my strength back and I sleep really well. My productivity has increased and I have never been more mentally fit. I wish I had started 15 years ago! 

We’re always on the lookout for new resources! Can you recommend any books, podcasts, or newsletters that have helped you in your journey towards balance?

More than books or podcasts, I think having kids has made me realise that maintaining balance is the only way to move forward. My ways of thinking and approach towards a lot of things have dramatically changed. They have taught me so much and I’m a completely different person now than I was 5 years ago. In saying that, the Calm App helps me a lot with my downtime! 

Before we wrap up, do you have any final words of wisdom or insights on work, life, or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

I believe that work is an important part of life, and you should always give it 100% (I do know I’m quite lucky to love what I do and so giving it my best comes quite easy!). However, our health and wellbeing should always be our number one priority.

Without good health and a happy personal life, you won’t be able to give even 50% at work, so before you can succeed anywhere you need to ensure you are taking time for yourself, looking after yourself and putting your health and happiness first.

About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.