chef shortage

Celeb chef James Tanner: UK Colleges must put in more work to fight chef shortage

By Daniel Woolfson

- Last updated on GMT

James Tanner: "Don't leave [chefs] in the corner, picking a box of spinach with no one talking to them"
James Tanner: "Don't leave [chefs] in the corner, picking a box of spinach with no one talking to them"

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UK Colleges must work on keeping themselves up to date with developments in the hospitality industry, chef James Tanner has urged. 

Tanner, who alongside brother and fellow chef Chris Tanner runs Tunbridge pub the Kentish Hare​ and several other restaurants across the country, said it was important educational institutes kept up with food trends and the demands of the contemporary food service industry.

Up to date

He said: “Lecturers need to be up to date. We are a service industry – we serve the customer and it doesn’t matter whether you’re in contract catering serving 150 breakfasts, a one, two or three-star Michelin restaurant doing fine dining or a small café.”

It was important all students learned the art of service; how to liaise with customers and understood the physical demands of a modern kitchen, he added.

James Tanner:
If you have got that qualification from a young age and that little spark where you really want to give it a shot, it’s fantastic

“We’re patrons of Bromley College and they’ve got a new scheme where they can bring people in from the age of 14 now.

“[Students] finish their school education whilst they’re at college – they do English, maths and science but because they’ve shown an interest and thought about going into the hospitality industry as a whole they can do the courses alongside – which means they’re learning, they’re getting their qualifications and GCSEs but learning early to get into the trade.

And, he added: “If you have got that qualification from a young age and that little spark where you really want to give it a shot, it’s fantastic.”

Shortage

Tanner said he had begun to pay attention to the industry chef shortage when “big name” chefs had begun advertising for staff.

But, he said: “It’s not just Michelin star kitchens, its right across the board – other big restaurant groups and well renowned chefs are all trying to get staff or fill Chef de Partie positions. I definitely think it’s on a bit of a downward slope.”

The Tanner brothers opened the Kentish Hare just over a year ago. It was named One to Watch in Top 50 Gastropubs​ 2015.

Tanner said: “Luckily our staff retention for our sites is brilliant – we’ve had people that have worked for us in for excess of nine years. What we do for our junior staff is work one-on-one with them, don’t work them to death and don’t make them work ridiculously stupid hours.

“Encourage them, don’t leave them in the corner picking a box of spinach with no one talking to them. The team needs to be a core bunch of people – get them around all the different aspects and sections of the kitchen, then they’ll be excited and motivated.

Related topics: News, Chefs, Training

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