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,, 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.

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