By Kieran O’Mahony
A WEST Cork restaurateur has echoed the call by the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) that there is now a crisis with the shortage of chefs in the country.
Patrick Kiely, who owns the renowned O’Connor’s Seafood in Bantry said he is finding it difficult to recruit qualified chefs.
‘It is becoming impossible to recruit chefs that can meet our standards and I do feel that there aren’t enough chefs being trained in the industry to meet the high demands of restaurants like ours. I interviewed several chefs for vacancies recently and they just weren’t up to scratch,’ said Patrick Kiely, speaking to The Southern Star.
‘They are only training between 30% and 40% of what’s needed for the industry and something will have to change as restaurants will find it harder to hire qualified staff.’
The RAI says that there is a shortage of chefs in the country and an investment in training is needed urgently. The organisation is calling on the Minister for Education to re-establish CERT, the former State Tourism Training Agency, with immediate effect.
Currently 1,800 chefs qualify each year from culinary training programmes but there is an immediate deficit of 5000 chef trainees annually.
The RAI recommends investment in management and the establishment of 10 new chef training centres nationally as there are not enough chef training centres.
‘CERT ceased to operate in May 2003 and the restaurant sector is calling for the immediate re-establishment of it, which the tourism and hospitality sector held in high esteem while it was operational. It was fit for purpose and serviced the industry with skilled labour during its operational years,’ said Adrian Cummins, chief executive of RAI.
‘We want to be able to market Ireland as a centre of food excellence, a true culinary experience with world-class chefs leading the way.’