RAI Calls on Government to Tackle Chef Shortage 'Crisis'
The Restaurants Association of Ireland has urged the Minister for Education to act on the shortage of chefs in Ireland, which it says has reached "crisis levels".
The representative body is asking for the re-establishment of CERT, the State training agency which, until it was abolished in 2003, provided training for the hotel, catering and tourism industry.
Currently, there are 25 proposed apprenticeship programmes being set up by the Government to tackle the problem, including a commis chef course run by the RAI and IHF.
Although the RAI acknowledge that these programmes go "some distance" in helping the shortage, its chief executive Adrian Cummins urged the State to increase their efforts.
“The chef shortage in this country is an ongoing problem. The new apprenticeship proposals are a stepping stone in tackling the crisis but the re-establishment of CERT is the only solution.
“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. Instead, we are finding ourselves in a position where we have a severe shortage of chefs in Ireland which is now threatening growth and expansion in the restaurant sector.”
The RAI is calling for the establishment of ten new chef training centers across the country to be set up immediately.
Speaking to the Irish Times, chef John Wyer of Forest Avenue said that the current system is "simply not working" as it does not provide students with enough hands-on experience.
“I would be expecting someone walking in off the street from a course to have a basic skill-set and know-how to cook stocks and soups, chop vegetables, have a basic understanding of technique and be able to work efficiently with cleanliness in the kitchen. That’s simply not happening,” said Wyer.
Wyer thinks an apprentice system where a student spends the vast majority of their time working in the restaurant with one day a week in class would be more effective, as students would quickly decide if the career path was for them.