Indian Chef Shortage in the UK
The Indian Chef Shortage in the UK, Crisis, and Solution
There is an Indian chef crisis in the UK curry houses. You will find people talking about this crisis in gatherings and even on the streets. Indian restaurant operators and owners are complaining about the shortage of curry and Tandoori chefs. In fact, they are finding it hard to find suitable chefs to fill the positions.
Why the crisis?
There are reasons why this crisis exists. Some of the reasons include pay per demand skill and the market need, the working conditions, annual holiday entitlements, paying in cash which leads to failure in getting paid on time and so many other small reasons. Basically, the cause of this crisis is all about money, job security, individual benefits and future career development.
In the past, it was easy for Indian restaurant owners to get good chefs from India and pay them peanuts. It is still easy for operators to negotiate and offer something better for the current chefs from India, Pakistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Nepal.
The need to get trained staff
Previously, there was no need for acquiring trained staff and there was no budget for it. The reason for this is that someone had already invested in training the Indians before coming to the UK for restaurant jobs. The chefs enrolled in different courses before applying for jobs because they wanted permanent residence in the UK for their future as well as their family’s future. Therefore, the operators we getting already trained chefs. Additionally, the restaurant owners love hiring the staff and wanted them to start working right away with of course a bit of paperwork. In short, there is no induction or staff training that exists.
You will find that most of the people working as waiters, serving food and handling customers are not professionally trained but rather trained by another chef. When an opportunity comes they always walk away to the new opportunities. What I am trying to say is that we need to train our staff. We should create training manuals, pay competitive rates in line with other operators and understand that no one wants to work for us anymore because of our own ways of handling employees.
Many Indian restaurant operators will argue that the training process is too long and expensive, but what they are forgetting is that other operators are already doing this and they started a long time ago. The thing is, Indian food business owners enjoyed the luxury of getting employees from back home and they think that they will still get them from there. Unfortunately, times have changed and no one wants to work for us. If we can compare, the learning process for preparing French food is too long, very precise and quite complicated than the process of preparing Indian cuisine. The Western pastry section, bakery and preparing French sauces as more complicated, technical and require a lot of effort than Indian curry or Tandoori.
Attitudes among our second generation are changing fast
In the past, it was a family’s tradition to pass on the family business to a member of the Indian family. This is a tradition that has lasted for generations. Unfortunately, this is not the case today. Very few family members actually want to take over the family business and this is affecting the business in general.
We need to train our staff and we should understand that currently, it is more expensive to get someone from India to come and work for you than it is to train a local. A single trained Indian chef can produce good food in a production kitchen if only he or she enjoys personal benefits, work tenure or security, and good pay. If we do not change this, we continue losing our best employee to supermarkets and other competitors.