The Chef Shortage Crisis – Yes, Times Really are Bad for Chefs

When a chef tells you that he doesn’t want his name or restaurant to be mentioned in a story about the chef shortage then the situation has reached crisis proportions. His reason: he doesn’t want his customers to think he hasn’t got enough staff to prepare their meal and book somewhere else.

That’s a pretty good reason.

We talked to Chef X yesterday and this is a true story. The restaurant has 8 days to solve its problems. The restaurant has lost its Head Chef, Chef de Parties and some of its Commis as well as servers, Sommelier and assistant General Manager.

The result is that the fine dining restaurant is now looking at cutting the weekday lunch service to once a week and taking the working week to four days. The chefs will only work 3 nights a week. The kitchen will be open on Wednesday for prep during the day. It will then open for dinner on Thursday and then offer lunch and dinner on Friday and Saturday.

“We are looking at increasing the wages for our chefs and at the same time cutting their hours. We will make this work by doing 5 stunning services a week. I am hoping that will be enough for me to find staff who really want to work hard for those services and then have enough time off to make the whole thing worth it.

“I am not prepared to give in. I set out to reach a certain standard and I will not compromise on what we offer.

“I have been decimated by walk-outs. Some of whom won’t even work their notice. It all happened so fast. Some have gone for the money. One Chef de Partie has gone to be a Head Chef. He’s not good enough but that didn’t stop him.

“Now it’s just me, my Senior Sous who is incredible. A level 3 student. A Commis who started as a KP. Two Demi Chef de Partie and a Commis recruit that’s not confirmed. And that’s just the kitchen.

“What is so upsetting is that I have not lost any European staff. This is not Brexit. This is just chefs who either don’t want to cook any more or want more money and better titles.”

How bad is it for you. Can we help?