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  1. ITV Report

How a dire shortage of chefs threatens West Country businesses

There are warnings that a dire shortage of chefs could force restaurants to close across the West Country.

The problems are particularly being felt by Indian restaurants, but all sectors of the hospitality industry are affected.

11,000
estimated number of extra chefs required by the year 2020

One business feeling the effects is the Bombay Express - a family run restaurant in Torquay. They're struggling to find chefs, and warn that curry houses across the country face an uncertain future.

Realistically we need four people. We need a head chef, a tandoori chef, a cook and kitchen porter. That should be the set up for an Indian restaurant. We don't have that availability of staff at the moment.

The demise of the curry industry is not far away unless we take practical action.

– Rehan Uddin, resteraunteur
Social media is being used to connect curry houses and chefs. Credit: Facebook

Social media is being used to connect curry houses and chefs - there are scores of vacancies.

Curry Houses say they're suffering not only from the general shortage of chefs, but also because tougher immigration rules means it's getting harder to bring chefs in from outside the EU, and that catering colleges aren't teaching students about British/Indian cuisine.

The skillsets are still vastly not there. We still need to create something locally, especially as we are so far away from the big cities.

An apprenticeship scheme would be fantastic for the Indian restaurant industry if we could get one together.

– Rehan Uddin, restaurateur

Because of the shortage of chefs, some kitchens are either having to buy in expensive agency staff or simply they're having to close because they haven't got enough people to keep the kitchen running.

It's not just high end restaurants suffering; care homes, cafes and canteens all need someone willing to cook.

The work has a reputation for being high-stress which is difficult to shake off.

How it used to be in the early nineties, where chefs were shouting and screaming and chucking pans, that has kind of killed the industry and it's slowly and surely changing, but it's going to take a long time.

– Anton Piotrowski, Head Chef

The aim now is to try to make the industry more attractive to new recruits.

You can watch our first report on the 'Kitchens in Crisis' series below:

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