Despite the popularity of cooking shows and celebrity chefs, hospitality chiefs say WA will struggle to find the estimated 1500 chefs needed over the next five years to service major hotels, including five and six-star hotels planned for Crown Towers and Elizabeth Quay.

They are appealing to young people who love excitement and travel to try their hand at cooking in what will be one of the most exciting and dynamic periods for hospitality in this State.

Iain McDougall, general manager of Hospitality Group Training, said WA was crying out for workers to join the fast-paced, exciting industry. A worldwide chef shortage made attracting people more challenging.

“There is no denying the trade is a difficult one with long and unsociable hours, while being on your feet for long periods, ” Mr McDougall said. “However, the reward of a career that can take you anywhere in the world and the opportunity to be a part of an exciting future in Australia’s rapidly developing food culture are compensation. All chefs will tell you if you follow your passion, the job satisfaction will more than make up for it.”

The Federal Government’s decision to return chefs to the National Skills Needs List would help bring people in on 457 visas but there was a long way to go in addressing the drastic skill shortages, he said.

Mal Gammon, chief executive of the creative and leisure industry training council FutureNow, said almost 400 apprentice chefs started training in the metropolitan area in 2013 but just 43 per cent qualified.

It was expected there would be a 56,000-job shortfall in Australia’s tourism and hospitality industry by next year. Employment in cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services was projected to grow by more than 42,000 jobs or 8.1 per cent to November 2017. Chefs, cooks and restaurant managers ranked as the most difficult vacancies to fill.

“Never before has there been such a melting pot of food styles and interest in the dining scene as there is in Perth right now, ” Mr Gammon said. “This is bringing Eastern States and overseas influences as everyone wants a piece of the Perth action.”

Both said WA’s training institutes and some high schools were running good-quality training restaurants that exposed apprentices to the reality of working in busy restaurants and cafes, while a chef ambassador program was bringing recently qualified young chefs into schools to cook and describe their own successful and exciting journeys.

“Most of all you need a passion for food, and a reasonably thick skin, ” Mr McDougall said. “It’s a job that adrenaline junkies love. If you can last the first six months, there is a good chance you are going all the way. ”

Meanwhile, Quinlan’s Training Restaurant has won its fourth consecutive Savour Australia restaurant and catering award. Run by 170 cooking and hospitality students from the Challenger Institute of Technology’s Fremantle campus, the restaurant has won a string of awards over the past four years, and has been included in the WA Tourism Hall of Fame.

At a second training establishment, Quinlan’s on High, in the heart of Fremantle’s cafe strip, students serve a steady flow of customers while working in the bar and making coffee.

Challenger hospitality, tourism and events program manager Leo Smith said both were dynamic venues where commercial-cookery students prepared meals and hospitality students provided front-of-house service. “Students have the opportunity to fully manage a restaurant and showcase their skills in planning a menu, budgeting, making purchases, and preparing and serving food and drinks to a discerning public, ” he said.


© The West Australian

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