Chef shortages lead to weekday closures, say restaurateurs

The re-establishment of a tourism training agency is “the only show in town” to tackle a chronic shortage of qualified chefs in Ireland, an industry body has said.

Some restaurants are unable to open on Mondays and Tuesdays as a result of the shortage, according to The Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI).

The RAI said emergency measures had to be implemented to solve the crisis. It saing 5,000 chefs will be needed before 2018.

RAI CEO Adrian Cummins said: “Some restaurants across the country are being forced to close on Mondays and Tuesdays, due to the shortage of chefs. It is interesting to note that the other large industries in Ireland, such as agriculture and fishing, have dedicated training centres around the country.”

He called for the re-establishment of the Council for Education, Recruitment and Training (Cert), formed in 1963 to train positions in the hospitality industry, as tourism in Ireland began to take off. Cert was merged with Bord Fáilte in 2003, when Fáilte Ireland was born.

Mr Cummins said head chefs could earn upwards of €60,000, while qualified chefs could earn €30,000, and commis chefs €25,000. Criticism that the industry was exploitative and unsocial were no longer warranted, he added.

“Conditions have gotten much better,” he said. “Working long hours at the beginning is the same as if you are training to be a doctor, solicitor, or an accountant. It is all part of the learning curve.”

He said the reintroduction of Cert was the “only show in town” and that politicians were “starting to wake up to the problem”.

Irish Hotels Federation’s representative in Cork, Aaron Mansworth, said the industry had to dispel the myths of long hours and tough conditions.

Mr Mansworth, group general manager of hotels including Cork International Hotel and the Metropole Hotel, said that, as the economy improved, the shortage in chefs was worsening.

“A good head chef is worth his or her weight in gold,” he said. “If you reach the top of the tree as a chef, in this country, the world is your oyster and you could name your price to work anywhere in the world. People don’t realise you get experience in management, human resources, marketing, and more, as a head chef in a busy restaurant or hotel.”

A Fáilte Ireland spokesman said: “We are working with industry partners, including the RAI, on the introduction of a new apprenticeship model, by Solas, which will add significantly more training places.”


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