Chefs, cooks and other professionals in the restaurant business are in short supply. The stakes are high: approximately 30 000 positions will not find takers in Quebec in 2030, according to HR Tourism Canada. The raisons ? Both society and the restaurant industry itself are at stake.
Demography and tourism
The restaurant sector employs mostly young people, sometimes part-time, often on a seasonal basis. However, recent statistics show that the number of workers in this age group is rather low, making it increasingly difficult for employers to recruit.
In addition, as the catering industry is largely linked to the tourism industry, good seasons put pressure on resources. In the summer, for example, even though customers are there and the end of the season is postponed due to the crowds, many employees have to go back to school.
Hours and wages are at the top of the list of grievances in the restaurant business. “ Je cannot offer group insurance, a pension plan or even an annual increase to my employees without jeopardizing the quality and survival of restaurant ,” says Jérémie Gélinas-Roy, the young executive chef at Le Millen, a neighbourhood restaurant located in the north end of the island of Montreal. He still manages to give a little more to his employees by offering more flexible schedules.
“ Travailler in a restaurant, nowadays, it’s a way of life that requires sacrifices and not everyone is ready to make them, year after année ”, says this passionate chef who earns little more than when he started working in the business 14 years ago. The average hourly wage of a chef, according to a 2017 survey by the Association des restaurateurs du Québec, was less than $20.
Many cooking shows present an image that doesn’t correspond to the reality of young chefs, who can get discouraged by the magnitude of the task, according to Chef Gélinas-Roy. “ On sees them going out into the fields to pick fresh produce and working with clean jackets… it’s not false, but it’s the reality of those who are at least 15-20 years old from métier !” he explains.
A kitchen is also a special place, with its hierarchy and the inherent pressure that comes with customer service. “ Il there are kitchens where the atmosphere is unhealthy, where competition is very strong and where verbal and psychological abuse is commonplace, causing départs ,” he says.
Mut in the same breath, the young chef would like to add that his job also has its share of pleasant moments. “ Lorsque my customers come to congratulate and thank me, I am sure that I am doing the best job of monde !” concludes Jérémie Gélinas-Roy.