Comment - Struggling hospitality is reaping an old problem - its treatment of chefs

You reap what you sow. For years chefing has been a high stress, low paid, long hours business - is it any wonder the trade is struggling to attract them back?

By David Walsh
Friday, 4th June 2021, 8:50 am

Across Sheffield hospitality firms that have been shuttered for more than a year are experiencing a boom.

But it is in the kitchen were an acute lack of people is really being felt - and it could put the brake on a long-hoped for recovery.

Sheffield JobCentre has a record 100-plus hospitality vacancies on its books. But demand for chefs is so high that Sheffield College has urgently been called in to run a four-week kitchen training course for the unemployed.

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Perfect plates of food often belie the conditions they were made in.

Meanwhile, Andy Burns, group executive chef at the True North Brewing Co. - which runs 13 sites including The Forum - says he’ll take anyone with the right attitude, because there are no chefs to be had.

Andy says front of house staff are being tasked with simple kitchen jobs like cutting chips. But they might have to close venues - on Monday or Tuesday, say - or reduce hours to evenings only - just when they should be firing on all cylinders.

Meanwhile, Brexit has sent thousands of willing EU workers packing.

And all this is before June 21 when the last legal restrictions are, hopefully, lifted. At that point hospitality could take off like a rocket. What will venues already struggling for staff do then?

David Walsh, business editor.

The central issue is that in the last year many chefs have had a taste of other jobs and other lives, perhaps working for Amazon or in logistics.

They’ve been paid more money, had less stress and been home in time to see their families - instead of crazy 60-hour weeks in horrific conditions.

Gordon Ramsay makes great telly - but would you want to work for him?

The only way some businesses are going to survive is by improving pay and reducing hours.

They’ve been dragged to the brink - now it’s time to loosen the purse strings and pay an honest rate.