NZ-wide shortage of chefs
City and country restaurants are struggling to find chefs with many coming up with creative ideas to lure qualified people into the kitchen.
In Hamilton, the city’s top restaurants were head-hunting chefs from each other because they couldn’t find new people to fill the void.
Others were hiring more international staff.
In rural Waikato, the Grand Tavern in Te Aroha had been looking for a chef for its restaurant for five months.
Restaurant businesses in smaller communities, like the Grand Tavern, had proposed a lifestyle change, cheaper rent and a balance between work and home life.
More successful city restaurants were offering higher pay rates to retain chefs.
New Zealand Restaurant Association confirmed chefs were on the skill shortage list and the most difficult to recruit.
A recent association survey found from 200 members, 65.57 per cent said it was ‘‘extremely difficult’’ to find a chef and 28.67 per cent said it was ‘‘difficult’’ to find a chef.
A search of the recruitment website, Seek.co.nz, showed there were 21 jobs listed under the title, ‘‘chef’’ for the Waikato.
Pay rates ranged from $20 to $29.99 per hour while another job was listed with the rate of $35,000 to $44,999 per year.
Lawrenson Group owned 16 restaurants and pubs in Hamilton’s CBD.
Its chief executive John Lawrenson said his HR manager kept a close watch on recruitment websites.
Their search showed chefs were the sixth most advertised in the country and the least responded to.
With no new qualified chefs answering advertisements, Lawrenson said there was a fair bit of work going on to lure head chefs from other restaurants.
He thought there were only about five or six good restaurants in Hamilton and about the same number of ‘‘good cafes’’.
‘‘The sad reality is there’s not a lot of good qualified chefs around.’’
He said pay rates had ‘‘skyrocketed’’ to about $35-$45 per hour, in an attempt to keep staff working in the kitchen.
Long hours and difficult working conditions were a few of the factors Lawrenson thought were limiting a chef’s career. ‘‘Working as a chef is hard. ‘‘They work long hours prepping, work 12 to 14 hour days and we try to juggle the hours for them so they have four days on and three days off.
Restaurant owners are struggling to find chefs, like Rebecca Wang, who is the sous chef at Gothenburg Restaurant in Hamilton.