• Blackberry Recruitment

Q. Why do Chefs keep moving?

Updated: Aug 1, 2018


Chefs Recruitment & Retention:

(It’s well worth the 5 minute read!)

Around 50 to 100 times a day we get asked the same question “Why can’t I recruit or keep my chefs” so here goes, those that know me understand I say it as it is, I don’t make up fairy stories I give actual factual information that you can take or leave it’s that simple?

Today the 25thJuly I quickly did chef vacancies across the UK in google, try it, Caterer 10,821 new jobs, indeed 16,110 jobs, Gumtree & the next 6 main advertising sites we find 56,507 jobs, yes, I know some are repeat adverts so let’s take an average add all 3 then divide by 3 gives us an average of some 18,835+ chef shortages?


How many chefs are there in the UK, estimates vary widely between 155,000 to 215,000, as a Euro Toques Commissioner I do have my ear to the ground so my estimate of 175,000 would be reasonably accurate, meaning almost 11% shortages? what industry can run with such a huge shortage?

It’s very easy to see why the shortage is there, no I’m not stating all, but with so many horror stories out there “Mud Sticks” and its stuck to the industry, for so many years chefs have been abused by employers, working in poorly maintained and equipped kitchens, working under pressure, underpaid hours they have worked, bonus systems that are never achievable, “THINGS HAVE CHANGED”, Today you can’t play poker with a chef they hold all fours aces, you can’t win, they want an employer who cares about their staff, respects them, ensures they have a great working environment and gives them a decent remuneration for the work they do after all its 2018 not 1918?

What are chefs being paid, well they are being paid for every hour they work that’s for sure, it’s illegal to put chefs or any employee on a salary without stating exact hours, then if you don’t want to pay them when you expect them to work extra hours your business demands, staff shortages or to cover sickness / holiday’s then don’t expect them to work unpaid they won’t, and the law states they do not need to, do not get mixed up with “They signed the opt out of the working directive” they still have to be paid for all hours they work it’s that simple, it’s the law?


Retention is the secret, so keep your chefs happy, look after them, they will look after your business, so let’s take a CDP as an example, yesterday we had over 60 clients wanting CDPs on a salary between £18K to £21k for 45 hours per week no live in, what does that equate to, £18k = £7.69 wow the National Minimum wage for a 25 year old is £7.83 for under 25’s its £7.38, so employers expect people who have trained for 3 years, have a qualification and anything up to 7 years’ experience (18 to 25) to work for these rates, your joking right, no I am not, get into the real world, smart employers who value their staff and want to retain them pay a decent liveable rate and always look at each individuals track record, if you’re not willing to look after your staff they will walk it’s that simple?



Value your team!

I have a client wants to find a CDP in Kent, position came on yesterday morning nice county, bloody expensive area, huge shortage as there is anywhere in UK, he’s switched on, runs a great Gastro pub, has accolades and understands chefs, he was one? So, his packages reflect the value he places on his staff I have known him for some 25+ years rarely do we do business just he is expanding after a refurb and wants to bolster his team quickly, knows our form our rates and that we are always quick off the mark?

What’s he offering £10 per hour, (reviewed after 3 months, and he does this) 45 to 55 hours a week, great tips usually £75 (lowest) to £120 a week, live in accommodation at £50 a week inc bills and meals, uniform, laundry, safety shoes, he can’t get anyone local, people can’t afford to buy or rent locally and run a car is his thoughts he’s right? They can’t!

My client also has a clear thought on local staff, if he recruits locally he knows a room inc bills will be £120 a week and fuel to work and back £30 a week so if he finds anyone local he would gladly pay them £12 per hour!

The results speak for themselves?

How many applicants have we had who wish to be considered for this position, 22 in one day, I kid you not, we will today sift through these, shortlist and forward to my client he’s going to be happy, we are happy as they say, “Jobs a good’un”.

Let’s turn this on its head, I now know that there are 21 other CDP’s who are searching for new positions, I also have over 200 similar job vacancies, you don’t have to be brain of Britain to work out what’s going to happen, so there will be another 21 employers scratching their heads in total amazement wondering why they can’t retain of recruit chefs when they think by paying them the NMW they are doing them a favour?

I of course know there are thousands of employers who retain, promote and look after their staff it’s the others that need to wake up, one will leave, then other chefs will just like sheep, they see one move, know they are off to better pasture and also want to get in on the act?


So here goes what I know CDP’s are on, looking for, and are worth, after all we could train a monkey to carry a plate, pay them NMW in about 15 minutes, how long to train a chef to comply to your standards every time, produce all your menu?

The answers not 10 minutes?


These rates are averages (NOT INCLUDING LONDON or any major city), so in your area expect to pay the going rate to attract and retain your chefs, or someone else will.

Chef Level Live in @ Live in Hourly Live Out Hourly

Commis £50 inc bills & meals £7.83 to £8.00 £8.00 to £9.00

Demi CDP £50 inc bills & meals £8.25 to £9.00 £9.00 to £10.00

CDP/Senior £50 inc bills & meals £10.00 to £12.00 £10.00 to £12.00

jar Sous / Sous £50 inc bills & meals £11.00 to £15.00 £12.00 to £15.00

And yes, there are senior CDP’s on great live out packages especially where they have been very loyal to their employers, are settled, have mortgages are not looking to be part of the management team, they hate stress? They just want to COOK?


Last question =to answer, "Why can’t we get any EU chefs these days" well they are there, but again a huge shortage the whole of the globe has a shortage, we have as my regular clients know been bringing EU chefs over for almost 17 years now, we also recruit into the EU, there are 21 of our CDP’s working at the Sani Resort in Greece for the summer season, (March to Mid-October) they are on between Euro 14 to Euro 20 per hour, Free food & accommodation + tips and an end of season bonus?



There are of course other solutions, grow your own for instance and we have some other great tips on retention, and cutting my own throat, how not to pay agency fees? and yes I am always happy to chat about these solutions just give me a call or drop me an email anytime adrian@blackberryuk.com

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