£50k salaries, £1 B&B stays and birthday treats: how pubs are trying to draw in chefs

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Perks of the job: Operators promise high salaries, discounted hotel stays and training opportunities in bid to attract staff (Getty/ andresr)
Perks of the job: Operators promise high salaries, discounted hotel stays and training opportunities in bid to attract staff (Getty/ andresr)

Related tags Training Gastropub Finance Food Multi-site pub operators

Holidays worth £2,000, birthdays off and salaries of up to £50,000 are just a few of the promises pubs are making to attract chefs and combat the industry’s mounting recruitment crisis.

This comes after a surge in chef wages was recorded by Indeed Hiring Lab​, with the average hourly wage for a chef rising by 7% this year to £9.58 per hour. Head chefs were among those who saw the biggest increases, with their average annual rate climbing 15% in the past year to £34,000.

However, research by The Morning Advertiser​, which studied job advertisements on recruitment website Indeed.com, found some venues offering £50,000 for head chef positions – a whopping 47% increase from the national average. 

The Hope and Anchor in Ross-On-Wye and Young’s pub the Pheasant inn, Lambourn, Hungerford were some of those offering up to £50,000 for head chef roles.

What’s more, the George, Fitzrovia, London, the Greyhound in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire and the Chaser inn, Tonbridge Kent, were offering salaries in the range of £32,000 to £40,000 for sous chef positions. 

Indeed, almost four out of five (79%) of operators have increased pay rates for staff to improve recruitment and retention, revealed a UKHospitality and CGA Future Shock Report in March.​ 

No chefs, no business

For the Chaser Inn, the pay included a fixed salary of £30,000 to £32,0000, which when combined with tips, created the amount of £40,000 per year.  

The Chaser Inn general manager Duke Chidgey said he was having to raise his wages to be competitive. “It used to be that there was one job for one chef, whereas now it feels like there’s one job for 10 chefs,” he said. 

According to the manager, things had been “extremely tough” at the pub which was operating the same amount of business but with half the chefs it used to have.  

“I can’t afford not to have chefs, or we haven’t got business,” he added. 

Other benefits at pubs included free uniform, up to 70% off food, the ability to buy cost price wine through suppliers, season ticket loans, discounted gym memberships, and wedding gift & new-born care packages (the George). 

Manchester-based Green Salmon Co also had measures in place to draw in and retain staff. Every five year anniversary, the business would for a holiday for the staff member and one other of up the value of £2000. On top of this, if staff worked more than 50 hours per week, they received an extra £10 per hour of overtime. 

Feeling valued

For director and founder of Green Salmon Jason Green, this was all about staff retention. “Regulars are only regulars if they feel valued,” he said, and believed you wouldn’t be able to build a loyal customer base if guests were frequently presented with a staff team of unfamiliar faces.  

What's more, Fuller’s pubs promised a range of perks for chef positions including a 25% to 40% discount off food and drink, reduced hotel stays cashback on high street stores. 

The pubco was also among those advertising comprehensive training, with Young’s similarly promising access to an apprenticeship scheme and development programmes, and the Greyhound in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire also offering full training. 

Furthermore, the Inn Collection Group proposed the chance to live on site, as well as extra paid holiday on your birthday month, £1 bed and breakfast in its inns during January, February or March and one third off room bookings all year round. 

Additionally, the Cholmondeley Arms in Malpas, Cheshire – alongside offering £40,000 for a head chef position – promised birthday and years’ service gifts among other bonuses. Elite Pubs also pledged a birthday treat for a chef de partie position, as well as extra paid holidays and monetary vouchers as long service recognition rewards. 

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