Qualified Chefs Deserve Good Working Conditions

LATELY I’ve spoken with a lot of businesses that are having more trouble than ever finding chefs.

We currently have an advert on SEEK too, and the number of responses we have received are the lowest in four years.

There has been a fair bit about this in the media lately, about chefs being a dying breed, and I think there’s a bit of rushing to train chefs as a result. This is causing the length of a chef’s education to lessen and thus final standard of chefs to drop.

So where does that leave us? Well, the saying “thin from the top” will stay true.

Those few chefs that have done the hard yards by completing a full apprenticeship, and have been trained properly, will end up as head chefs and be paid accordingly. And the remaining majority of the kitchen team will most likely be either young lower-paid school-leavers or cooks.

Over time food standards will drop and the amount of food that comes in prepared will increase. Businesses making various food items in bulk will supply everyone, just like getting in peeled potatoes and chopped vegetables happens at present.


What is the solution? One option could be to offer chefs a four-day work week. Less hours – and yes, that means more staff who will be paid less in return for the non-existent lifestyle currently on offer.

But most importantly, have pay rates that clearly reward those with qualifications and knowledge, which is currently not the case. One of the biggest problems is that the difference in pay between a highly qualified chef and one who has only just been trained is only $2 to $3 per hour.

I spoke with a head chef yesterday at one of the busiest venues on the Sunshine Coast. He’s working 60-70 hours this week and will maybe make about $1500 gross. That equates to about $17 per hour for a head chef. No wonder the wheels are falling off.

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2 comments on “Qualified Chefs Deserve Good Working Conditions”

  1. Damom Hall Reply

    I am a trained chef who has won awards and worked for 7 years at a michelin star level over europe and 16 years in total as a qualified chef. I am paid the same as the kitchen hands and i make about $1000 a week for 50 hours in sydney. Its just ridiculous that one of the largest employment sectors in the world take so many hits when we are already struggling to make ends meet. Its no womder the trade is dying off.

    • Jim Rice Reply

      Hi Damon, Yes it is-no one knows what the solution is? How many business’s can afford to pay chefs a lot more? Not many? I think we are definitely heading towards less people in a kitchen being qualified and more prepared items being outsourced-which is sad.

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