Chef recruitment crisis

“Fancy chefs don’t want to drop down to our level” - top London pub chef talks chef shortage

By Daniel Woolfson

- Last updated on GMT

Jesse Dunford-Wood: "Everyone always talks about the olden days being better but I think it might be true for this profession"
Jesse Dunford-Wood: "Everyone always talks about the olden days being better but I think it might be true for this profession"

Related tags: London pub, Chef

The current shortage of skilled chefs and the problems caused by it are “never ending”, according to Jesse Dunford-Wood, chef patron of Parlour, in Kensal Green, London.

Speaking to the PMA, Dunford-Wood said: “It’s pretty bad – it’s the most transient the industry has ever been. People come and go just to get paid 50p more and hour somewhere else.”

The chef, whose London pub was listed in this year’s Top 50 Gastropub Awards, said he felt potential kitchen staff were less committed than ever.

He said: “I think everyone always talks about the olden days being better but I think it might be true for this profession. We get people in who say they’ve worked in gastropubs before and know how to make fish and chips, steak and pie but that’s not really what we’re looking for.”

New breed of pub

Dunford-Wood said he thought part of the problem could be down to the recent rise in quality of pub dining and the kind of skills needed to produce that standard of food.

He added: “Our kind of level is a little bit of a new thing. The fancy chefs don’t want to drop down to pub level and the pub chefs will struggle really badly because we’re essentially restaurant chefs doing restaurant food in a pub environment.

“There’s a certain level of expectation when you apply for a job in a high end restaurant and much less so in a pub. Our food is better than what some people consider good restaurants in London but the face of it is different so expectation-wise it’s a bit strange.”

Blurred expectations

Dunford-Wood also said he thought portrayals of chefs on TV were blurring people’s expectations of the job.

He said: “People love the idea of being chefs because it’s all over the TV and in magazines but when you look down the barrel of doing an 80-hour working week, getting night buses home and potentially being abused when you’re at work, suddenly it’s slightly less glamorous.”

Related topics: News, Chefs, Training, Other operators

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