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Recruiting the next generation of pub chefs


On 02/03/15 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)


As part of the BBPA’s commitment to helping our members improve their own retail offer, we identified that recruiting pub chefs was becoming a huge challenge. Half of all hospitality job postings are looking for chefs. With the lowest number of applicants per role, we identified that pub retailers needed to make pubs stand out as a real career choice.


The television preoccupation with cooking competitions, from The Great British Bake Off to Masterchef and Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen nightmares, may have increased our interest in cooking (I am probably one of the few people you know who took cookery at O’level!); but they have driven the interest in young people towards working in top restaurants and celebratory kitchens.


The specific attractions of a pub kitchen, where you often have more control, choice and influence; and in the tenanted sector an opportunity to run your own business, is sadly not the first choice for young people leaving catering or further education college. We need to change this and our new Pub Chef’s film seeks to do just that.


The Pub Chef recruitment campaign is a partnership between the Perceptions Group, BII and BBPA. BII were able to launch their own pub apprenticeship’s programme and later this year the Perceptions Group will launch its Pub and Bar Careers website, where companies can put a link to their own job websites and explains the different roles and responsibilities of jobs in a kitchen.


It was great at the launch of the film to have some of the young chefs who appeared in it with us. James Agutu, started as an apprentice and is now a kitchen leader. Fiona Drake who is a chef at the George & Dragon pub for Robinsons in Cheshire. Craig Hawkes started as a pub apprentice and is now a Chef de Partie. They are all in their early twenties and were all a credit to their profession. I hope they will prove an inspiration to future pub chefs up and down the country.


Pubs serve almost a billion meals a year and more and more pubs are recognising that a good food offer will attract more customers. So many pubs serve wonderful, meals of high quality and great value for money. I can honestly say that some of the best meals I have ever had have been in a pub. We have a clear message about growth and investment and we need to address any negative perceptions of our sector that deter young people and their parents from considering a career in a pub. Crucially, we need to inspire young people to translate their passion for food into a passion for being a pub chef.


So what do we want you to do? Please create a link to our film on your website. It can be found here. If you are a catering college or educational establishment, please use the film too and show it to all your students. If you are on social media, you can share your support with #pubchefpassion.



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