There was an interesting discussion on LinkedIn yesterday around the “Driver shortage” in the HGV industry and this got me onto thinking about our own much hyped Chef shortage and what we are doing to compete with these other shortage industries.  Hang on a minute you may be thinking?  What does a shortage of people who want to drive Lorries have to do with a shortage of people who want to be Chefs?  A lot in my opinion and its time that our industry woke up to the fact that we are in a battle and a battle needs to be fought!

I think perhaps it starts from the point of being realistic – we are too focussed around Chefs needing to be “passionate”, they need to “love fresh produce”, be “creative” as if all this is enough to make up for a 90 hour week where they get paid for 45!  The facts of the matter are that at CDP and Commis level what is needed from a chef is the ability to turn up (yep sounds basic but it seems to evade some), to turn up on time (another tricky one for some), follow a spec, not fall out with their colleagues about the way to chop a cauliflower (this happened recently), and put in a decent shift!  Therefore the people we are looking to attract may well be the same people who want to be lorry drivers, security guards, train drivers, and any other manner of industries – in other words people who want a job that is not unpleasant, has hours that allows them to spend time with their family and friends and pays a decent wage to pay for the lifestyle they want.  The creative ones who love fresh produce and are passionate will be the ones who go on to climb the ladder, open restaurants and become the next Jason Atherton – we don’t need to attract these they will always come as it’s in their blood.

So to any restaurant chain that wants to solve their Chef shortage – here’s my advice; go out and bench mark what you are offering against other industries – do your hours, environment and benefits match or exceed that of being an HGV driver?  From where I’m sitting the lure of the open road is a whole lot more attractive than being stuck in a hot basement knocking our burgers for 90 hours a week.