Are Restaurants Really Facing a Chef Shortage?

New York City’s top restaurants are bemoaning the lack of qualified young chefs in the city


Why are restaurant having trouble hiring chefs?

Even though the culinary arts have gotten a boost lately, thanks to the glamor associated with the life of a Food Network star, restaurant owners are scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to finding cooking talent. Is New York City really facing a chef shortage? According to recent analysis by Fortune, yes, it is.

“If I had a position open in the kitchen, I might have 12 resumes, call in three or four to [try out] in the kitchen, and make a decision [a few years ago],” Gotham Bar & Grill co-owner Alfred Portale told Fortune. “Now it’s the other way around; there’s one cook and 12 restaurants” chasing that candidate.

The reasons for this alarming trend include low wages, too many restaurants, and a surplus of young chefs who don’t want to “pay their dues” slumming it as a line cook before realizing their gastronomic dreams.

Restaurants are opening up by the dozens all over the country, even in “non-foodie” cities like Denver and Memphis, leaving a growing group of culinary employers and a relatively stagnant pool of possible chefs.

Some believe you can blame big food stars for the growing confidence and attitude of young chefs.


“They all want to be Anthony Bourdain,” said Chris Coombs, chef–owner of Boston Urban Hospitality. “The television era has warped the perception of how much work it takes to get from where they are to where he is.”