Restaurants are currently undergoing a staffing crisis. According to a report by Fortune, many of America's top restaurants are having a hard time finding cooks and chefs. Chef Alfred Portale, who owns New York City's famed Gotham Bar and Grill, explains that a few years ago if there was a position open, he would receive 12 resumes and would call about four to come in and try out. "Now it's the other way around; there's one cook and 12 restaurants [looking to hire the candidate]."
So what is causing this shortage? Many chefs complain that it's due to the glorification of the industry on television. People "used to start at the bottom and work their up." However now people want to make a "quick buck instead of investing in their future," says Kevin Templeton, the executive chef of Barleysmash in San Francisco. Restaurateur and chef Chris Coombs (Boston Chops, Boston) adds that "the television era has warped the perception of how much work it takes" to become like Anthony Bourdain or other popular TV chefs.
Additionally, there has been a dramatic increase in restaurants in recent years. Owning a restaurant is a "bucket list item for many people," and with the economy improving, many have taken the leap into ownership. In Denver, nearly five times as many restaurants opened last year than years previous.
Perhaps the biggest reason for the chef shortage is the industry's low wages. Culinary school — which is incredibly expensive and very rarely worth it — can cost nearly $31,000 per year. Most cooks will start out on salaries between $22,000 and $35,000 a year, and often the jobs at the best restaurants are located in cities with steep living costs. Because of this, many graduates turn to "large chains, resorts, and other big facilities" that can offer a higher paycheck. Besides low pay — many restaurant employees live in poverty — a cook's hours are long and often they do not receive any benefits like health insurance or paid vacation days. And if that wasn't bad enough, the rates of harassment in kitchens are particularly high as well.