The second most accurate way to describe recruiting decent chefs is “an utter headache.”
The actual most accurate way to describe recruiting chefs would get me in trouble with my editor for swearing.
I've gauged this opinion after speaking to many licensees, who have so often expressed such exasperation about finding kitchen staff.
It takes time, money and a few grey hairs. Yet it’s so important, so what the heck can be done about it?
The siren of Brexit combined with business rates, the living wage, alcohol duty and general day-to-day obstacles licensees face make for an uneasy situation.
But political climate aside, I wonder if it’s about to get easier? More and more businesses are investing in apprentices and training. They’re giving them opportunities, skills, sending them to producers or on fishing trips, rewarding them with equipment and even providing accommodation.
I attended the final stage cook off of Fuller's Chefs' Guild Scholarship last week (April 21) and was blown away by the standard of food coming out the kitchen and also the breadth of which the chefs are learning.
Trainees are taught marketing skills and how to come up with different menus for different sites, as well as technique.
People who complete the scholarship are even invited to a proper graduation ceremony where they can bring loved ones along – now that’s motivation.
I’d also argue that becoming a chef is getting trendier.
Instead of celebrity chefs, the likes of Adam Rawson (various kitchens), Dan Doherty (The Duck & Waffle, London) and Elizabeth Haigh (Shibui, London, pictured below) dominate the capital’s foodie scene, especially on social media.
Instagram has given chefs a stage to showcase dishes and the kitchen has come to the forefront, it’s not just a closed door where chefs can hide but a window for customers to interact with. They love seeing the people behind the menu.
Even the rise of food "how-to" videos, which dominate the likes of Facebook, are encouraging more people to cook.
I'm by no means saying that Buzzfeed food is key to the chef shortage, but if it can get a few more feet into the kitchen at home they might be inspired to take it to the next step.
So here’s to the businesses nurturing careers and the chefs stepping into the forefront to inspire others, so that one day I can describe recruiting chefs as an [insert word(s) here] of the past.