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The crippling problem restaurant-goers haven’t noticed but chefs are freaking out about

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I've been hearing this more and more from friends in the hospitality business, some of whom are closing down because it's too hard to get help these days. The problem is especially bad in expensive districts like the Bay Area where it may be unaffordable for employees to live near the restaurant AND more or less impossible to commute from the outer suburbs late at night (have you ever tried taking BART at 2:30AM?) Hate to say it, but raising the minimum wage will make things even worse.

Is the main issue that no one wants to work to rise through the ranks?

Or is the main issue that very few people can afford to work at the entry level?

Here's the main argument of the article:

Good cooks are getting harder to come by. Not the head kitchen honchos, depicted in Food Network reality shows, who fine-tune menus and orchestrate the dinner rush, but the men and women who are fresh out of culinary school and eager.

The shortage of able kitchen hands is affecting chefs in Chicago, where restaurateurs said they are receiving far fewer applications than in past years. “It’s gotten to the point where if good cooks come along, we’ll hire them even if we don’t have a position. Because we will have a position,” Paul Kahan, a local chef, told the Chicago Tribune last week.

It’s also an issue in New York, where skilled cooks are an increasingly rare commodity. “If I had a position open in the kitchen, I might have 12 résumés, call in three   or four to [try out] in the kitchen, and make a decision,” Alfred Portale, the chef and owner of Michelin-starred Manhattan restaurant Gotham Bar and Grill, told Fortune recently. “Now it’s the other way around; there’s one cook and 12 restaurants.”

And it extends to restaurants out West. Seattle is coping with the same dilemma. San Francisco, too.

The glitz and glamour of rising through the ranks in the restaurant industry isn’t what it used to be. Long hours, low pay and a series of other cultural and economic factors have made lower-tier restaurant work a much less desirable path than it once was, leaving many kitchens chronically understaffed.

One of the clearest obstacles to hiring a good cook, let alone someone willing to work the kitchen these days, is that living in this country’s biggest cities is increasingly unaffordable. In New York, for instance, where a cook can expect to make between $10 and $12 per hour, and the median rent runs upward of $1,200 a month, living in the city is a near impossibility. As a result, people end up living far from the restaurants where they work. Add to that how late dinner shifts can end, causing people to arrive home well into the night.

more food trucks, the freelance of culinary? 

Maybe, though I now know of many people who have tried food trucks and failed. 

The economics of food trucks are challenging too. 

Sounds like this will be followed by an uptick in restaurant failures.

That scenario would not surprise me. 

I guess restaurants will respond by going with robot workers?

My experience with resort style restaurants is the company will hire one French "superstar" chef and pay him quite well then let the others take home close to minimum wage.

2 of my brothers work in the industry. both have several years of experience working at resort quality restaurants from the Rockies, west. being a line cook is not rewarding work and the pay is enough to get by if you split rent with another person or just happen to be lucky enough to live at mom n pop's place. even as a sous chef, the pay isn't much better and then you are basically running the operations of the kitchen on a daily basis, while the superstar chef designs the recipes and plates for each season. I see this as a 1 rock star and 50 band aids. the chef at these places have 20-30+ years of experience where the sous chef will commonly have 8-15 years of experience but the pay is more than double for the chef, and that's what the companies are paying for.

Why would anyone want to sign up for the minimum wage job?

Seems like there are too many years of not being able to afford anything for that to be worthwhile. 

And the best case scenario is that a few of the best and most passionate line cooks stay for the duration and make the restaurant a better place while head chefs come and go.

Yeah, that doesn't sound like a great scenario for the line cooks.

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