Galton Blackiston says that even at Michelin level, staff retention is a problem

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 14th October 2019

In an interview with The Staff Canteen, the chef owner of  Morston Hall, Galton Blackiston, spoke about the difficulty of finding talented chefs, even at Michelin level 

Galton and his team were awarded a star in the 1999 guide and have maintained it ever since, making the restaurant one of the longest standing Michelin-starred establishments in the country. 

Greg Anderson
Morston Hall head chef Greg Anderson

The key to the restaurant's success? Never let down your guard down, the chef explained. 

“I personally think that we’re cooking better than we’ve ever cooked.”

For this he has his head chef, Greg Anderson, to thank. He describes him as 'a chip off the old bloc'. 

"Despite the fact that he’s younger, he’s more innovative than me, we share a passion for the unwavering quality of ingredients, that’s the biggest thing – sourcing the right ingredients, seasonality, that sort of thing.” 

Though he has never lacked confidence in the standard of the food at Morston Hall, Galton remembers a time when he wasn't (or thought he wasn't) invited to the awards. 

“Apparently we did get an invite but it went into the spam box – That did send me absolutely paranoid because everybody I would speak to would ask ‘are you going to the awards’ and I hadn’t been f**king invited.’ That was horrible. I just thought ‘what have we done.’" 

The recognition from Michelin, 21 years on, is something Galton and his team cherish. 

'To close on a Monday and a Tuesday would've cost £500,000 a year.' 

However coveted, the accolade isn't a fix-all; while one would think having a star would help with staff retention, the chef said that this is not necessarily true. 

“I’ve had very very good chefs coming through here and they’re going from here and progressing and it’s brilliant, I can’t knock it, if they want to go to The Fat Duck, it's an amazing restaurant, but they’re difficult to replace, the quality of a sous-chef is a difficult one to replace.”

To address the problem, Galton is trying to improve working conditions for his team. 

“We are all having to think of ways of changing to make it slightly easier.” 

However, this isn't easy: having to open seven days stops them from improving working conditions, which in turn inhibits them from retaining staff.

"If I had masses of staff, we’d be able to work less hours but I can’t, so we can’t,” he said. 

“Somebody like Sat [Bains] for example, he’s only open four days a week now. We tried – because we’re a hotel and a restaurant, we open seven days a week. We have a month off in January but that’s it.”

“I said to Greg, shall we look at closing on a Monday and on a Tuesday, so he did this exercise and looked at the figures, and to do that would’ve cost £500,000. We just can’t afford it." 

What do you think chefs? What can restaurants do to improve staff retention? Share your thoughts in the comments! 

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 14th October 2019

Galton Blackiston says that even at Michelin level, staff retention is a problem