The restaurant industry is set to face a shortage of qualified staff amid a boom in the number of restaurants and a lack of experience amongst young chefs, British celebrity chef Marco Pierre White has warned.
“The world moves so quickly now compared to what it moved in the 70s when I was a boy… If you look at how the restaurant industry is expanding, enormously, there’s all these opportunities, and there’s a shortage of chefs,” he told Arabian Business’ sister publication Hotelier Middle East while in Dubai to open his latest restaurant.
Young chefs are more interested in moving up the career ladder than honing their skills in the kitchen, he added.
“When I was a young boy and I went into my industry… young men and young ladies who walked into the industry came to learn their craft… Young men, a lot of them are coming into the industry for all the wrong reasons not the right reasons. They want to be a chef de partie aged 18, they want to be head chef early 20s, they don’t want to learn their trade,” he said.
White’s comments follow weeks after the Caterer Middle East Head Chef Survey 2012 identified recruitment and retention of skilled staff as a major industry challenge for restaurants in the Middle East.
Nearly half of respondents indicated “labour shortages” as one of the biggest issues affecting their outlets’ performances, above rising food prices (41 percent) and increased competition (31.9 percent).
“With so many restaurants opening up, junior chefs that would normally stay in a position such as commis one or commis two tend to move up pretty fast. There’s a lack of basic knowledge there and you find that throughout Dubai there’s quite a gap,” said Movenpick Hotel Deira Executive chef Salvatore Silvestrino.
John Khan, responsible for head hunting the best hospitality and leisure staff in the world for Gordon Ramsay’s global empire, recently set up Reed Recruitment in Doha, the first hospitality and leisure division outside of the UK to help combat the industry’s staffing problem.
In spite of receiving more than 1,200 applications, Khan told Caterer Middle East that he was “absolutely shocked” by the “quality and type” of people being put forward for roles when recruiting for the two new Gordon Ramsay outlets which recently opened at the St. Regis Doha.
“For certain positions – a sous chef or an assistant manager - I would just reject them straight away saying this person hasn’t got nearly enough skill or exposure in that position,” he said.