Chef Shortage in Restaurant Kitchens



"There aren’t enough qualified cooks — or unqualified cooks," says a restaurant owner.

Small diners and fancy, fine dining restaurants are both facing the same problem – the extreme shortage of cooks in the kitchen. This was not an issue before. Co-owner and chef Alfred Portale of Gotham Bar and Grill stated, "If I had a position open in the kitchen, I might have 12 resumes, call in 3 or 4 to [try out] in the kitchen, and make a decision [a few years ago]," Now, that is not that case... Actually, it is the other way around. Restaurants are now constantly chasing after applicants, hoping to catch a break from the 'chef drought'.

There are several speculations as to why there has been a lack of chefs in the kitchen.

Too many restaurants opening

Restaurants are popping up left and right at an unbelievable pace, due to the resurgence in the economy. In a typical year, there would be around ten openings in downtown Denver, but in 2014, there were nearly 50. With that many new establishments being set up, there is not enough chefs to fill the open positions.

Age of instant success

In the past, restaurant workers would have to earn their stripes in the kitchen. They would need to work their way up in the ranks, starting at entry-level positions and then eventually in a few years time, they would hold executive-level titles. Nowadays, people have become impatient. They want everything, now, now, now!

Millennials are under the impression that success occurs instantaneously, and is something that does not need to be worked for. One reason is because of the whole 'TV chef' phenomenon. People think they could just hit it big by winning MasterChef or Top Chef. Chris Coombs, chef/owner of Boston Urban Hospitality, said, "They all want to be Anthony Bourdain. The television era has warped the perception of how much work it takes to get from where they are to where [Bourdain] is."

Pay is low

Of course, when it comes down to it, money matters. The total cost of culinary school at the Culinary Institute of America tips at more than $30K a year. However, starting annual salaries ranging from $22,000 to $35,000 are not cutting it. Recent graduates have personal living costs and growing student loans to pay. Living off such low wages are nearly impossible in urban cities. In turn, young job seekers are applying to big companies and restaurant chains, which have the ability to pay more and with benefits.

What can a restaurant do?

Our main focus at Harri is to make the hiring process easier, cost efficient as well as be your solution for industry wide challenges like the one mentioned in this article. Harri is a hospitality-focused startup created by a restauranteur for restauranteurs, so we truly understand the pain points associated with hiring in this industry. We are working tirelessly to bring happiness back to hiring in hospitality. Learn more about what Harri does and all that it has to offer in the video below:

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