Asma Khan and Chantelle Nicholson say “aggressive” restaurant tv shows to blame for chef shortage

The Staff Canteen

In an article published in the Standard, chefs Asma Khan and Chantelle Nicholson the pair slammed some tv shows for ‘having a harmful effect on attracting young people to the industry, particularly women’.

Speaking to the Standard Chantelle Nicholson, chef patron of Tredwells and group operations director of Marcus Wareing Restaurants said: “If you look at those horrible TV programmes – I’m talking about Hell’s Kitchen and all those – would you want someone shouting at your daughter like that?”

The chef shortage is not a new topic, The Staff Canteen team speak to chefs every day who are struggling to fill both kitchen and front of house roles. Steps have been taken to introduce a better work/life balance including moving to a four-day week but a major concern is not just a shortage of workers but a shortage of staff at a high level, something Chantelle referenced in the article with the Standard. She said: “Our industry is not in a great place recruitment-wise so you have to take what you can get – which means you need to change your approach.

“The skill set is much lower than it used to be, so you’re having to take on people that aren’t as skilled and train them. The demand outweighs the supply, so if someone doesn’t like the way they’re being treated or doesn’t like the environment they can literally get a job within an hour somewhere else.”

Referencing TV shows such as Hell’s Kitchen, known for its high-intensity format and regular swearing, Asma Khan, chef-owner of Darjeeling Express – where she leads an all female team – and star of the latest series of Netflix’s Chef’s Table, told the Stanadard: “I think that's why we don’t have enough people knocking on the doors – despite the fact that there is an absolute crying need for staff everywhere – is the perception of what it is to work in a kitchen.”

She added: “I absolutely loathe all these programmes that you see on television which show the aggressive side of what it is to be in a kitchen, because these are a disservice.

“They do nothing for the industry, they put off people. They prejudice the minds of parents, whose 16-year-old daughter will say, ‘I want to be a chef’ and they then picture an aggressive, abusive, bullying man shouting in the kitchen.
“There are lots of really nice places to work where there are women, they are very supportive and have a very relaxed atmosphere. It’s very fun, you can learn a lot.”

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 11th March 2019

Asma Khan and Chantelle Nicholson say “aggressive” restaurant tv shows to blame for chef shortage