MA's chef guide

Chef crisis: time to grow your own kitchen talent?

By Claire Churchard contact

- Last updated on GMT

Turn up the heat: getting the chefs your pub needs can be a tall order
Turn up the heat: getting the chefs your pub needs can be a tall order
Chefs are hot property. With numerous pan wranglers and kitchen kingpins on television or touring the country like rock stars it’s no surprise that people coming into the profession are ambitious.

And for pubs that serve food, a good and reliable chef is critical to the operation – so the MA is here to help with the launch of a new guide​ focusing on attracting, retaining and developing these sought after professionals.

Supply and demand

It's well documented that there's a shortage of available chefs. Recent data from employment and learning body People 1st​ shows that labour turnover among chefs is 40%, while about 20% are leaving the profession every year equating to around 19,000 professionals.

The problem is being exacerbated by increased demand for chefs, a rise in the skill levels required and a shrinking labour pool, while there too few chef apprentices​ or full time students coming through to fill the gaps. To add to employers’ woes, People 1st​ projects that catering will need 11,000 chefs by 2022.

For pubs struggling to hire chefs​, it would seem that a good strategy would be to retain the chefs they do have. But in February this year Geoff Booth, chief executive office of the Professional Association of Catering Education, told the MA500 meeting of pub operators in Cambridge that pub employers are “not very good at holding onto chefs”.

Build your own talent pipeline

So what do you do when your star chef de partie, sous chef or head chef hands you their letter of resignation, apart from panic. As well as hiring in talent, there is another way to fill your chef shaped hole and avoid being left in the lurch: build your own chef pipeline.

By identifying other members of your team that might want to develop their skills or expand their employment repertoire into new areas you can encourage talented staff to stay and have people that can step into the breach if your key kitchen hand steps out.

Not sure where to start? MA has just launched a paid-for guide to growing your chefs. It covers crucial areas such as spotting people with potential, developing a training plan, how to make the most of apprenticeships, and engaging and retaining your team.

Related topics: Training

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