Blog: The 21st Century Chef by Martin-Christian Kent, executive director, People 1st

The Staff Canteen

Executive director of People 1st, Martin-Christian Kent discusses the 21 Century Chef, outlining his concern about chef recruitment challenges and their growth.

Chef Skills

Chefs continue to be a critical recruitment challenge for many hospitality businesses. Currently, 42% of Chef vacancies are considered hard-to-fill with research from People 1st indicating that by 2022 the industry will need to recruit an additional 11,000 Chefs.

Blog: The 21st Century Chef by Martin-Christian Kent

 Just as with the entire hospitality industry, the Chef world has a recruitment and retention challenge. 

 The growth in more informal, casual dining has seen the UK branded pub and restaurant market attracting an extra 47 million visits each year compared to five years ago. This, allied to a refocus on locality, seasonality and authenticity, has arguably fragmented the Chef job description and increased the number of people who work under the job title of ‘Chef’ but carry out wildly varying tasks, using different skills.

This industry sea change, begs a number of questions for kitchens of the future: namely, how will we come to properly define the role of a 21st century Chef? What skills will people looking to join the brigade of the future require? And how best to recruit, develop and most importantly, retain, the best candidates?

People 1st is about to embark upon a large-scale body of research with Chefs, Chef organisations, hospitality businesses, industry commentators, recruitment agencies and suppliers to get a better understanding of the types of skills the industry will need in the next five to ten years.

In undertaking the research, we will seek to formulate a breakdown, by skillset, of Chefs working in the hospitality industry and where they are typically found while getting a greater sense of the proportion of different types of Chefs working in the industry.

Allied to this, People 1st will examine how businesses recruit for different Chefs, how they train and develop existing staff and the extent to which they are finding it difficult to fill vacancies.

Finally, we will look to examine the impact of immigration restrictions on bringing Chefs into the UK from outside of the EU.

If you work in hospitality and care about the future of this fantastic industry we want to hear from you.

To have your say, email me at [email protected]

People 1st identifies industry needs across the hospitality, tourism, leisure, travel, passenger transport and retail industries and works in partnership with employers to develop class-leading solutions that increase performance through people. For more information visit:, call 020 3074 1222 or tweet @p1stgroup.

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 4th May 2017

Blog: The 21st Century Chef by Martin-Christian Kent, executive director, People 1st