Brigid Simmonds, British Beer and Pub Association chief executive, urged pub chefs and MPs at the Parliamentary Pub Chef Awards to work to solve the recruitment crisis.
"We need to get out there and get colleges to supply chefs to our industry," she told finalists, MPs and trade leaders at the event.
The inaugural awards, which kicked off last year, had attracted 111 MPs to vote for more than 120 pub chefs in their constituencies and were created to raise awareness about the chef shortage, she added.
"That shows how important pubs and pub food is in constituencies up and down the country and also how enthusiastic MPs are."
Not enough chefs
There were not enough chefs for the industry, added George Vezza, managing director of Nestlé Professional, who pointed out there would be a skills gap of 11,000 chefs in the years to come.
"A lot of chefs do [their jobs] for passion and because they love it. They don't do it to become extremely rich," he added.
It took a lot of hard work and dedication to become a skilled and talented chef, said MP for Dundee Chris Law.
Recruitment was a challenge, Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs minister George Eustice, recognised.
"Over the past couple of decades, we have seen a transition of our pubs and that's really encouraging to see how they've changed their offer and included high-quality food – it's a game-changer," said Eustice.
Highly skilled chefs were vital to the trade, said Andrew Griffiths, MP for Burton and Uttoxeter and chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group. "The [food] standards that our pubs are achieving are greater than before."
"Now we see pubs up and down the country turning out some fantastic meals and we can be proud of it," Griffths added.
John Calton, winner of this year's Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastorpubs Gastropub Chef of the Year award, told the Publican’s Morning Advertiser that the recruitment crisis was worse in the north of England.
Considering there was a shortage of skilled chefs in the south and London, it was much harder to recruit in the north, he added.
Calton, who is chef-patron of the Staith House in South Shields, said it was impossible to fill his current chef vacancy, which was preventing him from opening another site in the north-east.
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