There seems to be a boom in the world of relief chefs this year in Scotland. As a 13 year veteran of the game I can’t think of another time when chefs were so thin on the ground this early on in the season. Something’s afoot, that’s for sure.
Normally, the season for relief chefs starts to creak into life during the week or two leading up to Mothers day and it continues to gather momentum towards the end of May. Any time after that the only realistic chance of getting a decent relief chef involves live trapping and a cage, using beer and pretty waitresses as bait. But here we are finding ourselves merely past the first week into May and the main chef agencies are reporting no bodies available and seem to be screaming from the rooftops for help.
As suggested in one of my previous blogs the chef shortage may very well be due to the much anticipated recovery of Scottish tourism, a rise in visitors and a rise in those arriving earlier in the season. Tourism in Scotland is predicted to rise 40% by 2017 and this week it’s been reported Scotland has seen a 10 per cent increase in the number of overseas visits and a 20 per cent rise in spending in the last year. This is very welcome news and should be very heartening to those voting Yes in the coming Scottish Independence vote.
Could this be the explanation why it’s so busy?
Will there enough relief chefs in Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games?
One things for sure, if the shortfall continues there may be some problems for some upcoming events in Scotland. Where will it leave Glasgow and the Commonwealth Games when the cavalcade comes rolling into town, when it comes to feeding the masses of visitors, journalists, production teams? I can accept the athletes and teams will be catered for by the usual large catering companies, but the rest will be dining out in the restaurants of the city and surrounding areas. Therefore, surely there will be a huge increase in demand for relief chefs?
I spoke earlier in the year with a senior member of the Job Centre Commonwealth Games team for Glasgow who are charged with recruiting the temporary staff required for the period of the games. We discussed the games and I highlighted the potential issue of relief chef shortages during the tourist season. I was told the council and Job Centre were certain they would have enough staff to cover the event, many of the chefs coming from overseas who travel the world following events catering. I’m not so sure.
If Glasgow City Council is expecting “hundreds of thousands of visitors” there would have to be several plane loads of chefs arriving just to cope with the demand. If we’re already struggling to deal with the demand for the basic requirements of chef cover for our own tourist season, there may be a storm brewing for Glasgow. Any Glasgow relief chefs who find themselves available come the games may be in for one heck of a pay day.