America Is Facing a Chef Shortage Because Everyone Wants to Be Anthony Bourdain

By Mike Pomranz |
FWX CHEF SHORTAGE

© Clover No.7 Photography / Getty Images

Everyone wants to be a chef nowadays, right? Celebrity chefs have basically become the rock stars of the food world. However, the food world is facing a shortage of chefs because, though people may dream big, not enough people want to put up with the grind.

Fortune recently looked into the “serious” problem of chef shortages. They claim that thanks to the stronger economy, there are too many restaurants and “entitled millennials” don’t want to put in the work necessary to make it to the top—especially when starting line cook jobs don’t pay well. “They all want to be Anthony Bourdain,” Chris Coombs, chef-owner of Boston Urban Hospitality, told Fortune. “The television era has warped the perception of how much work it takes to get from where they are to where [Bourdain] is.”

The reality of life in the restaurant biz can be very unglamorous. People breaking into cooking will “be on salary ranging from $22,000 to $35,000 [a year],” said former executive chef Sam McDermott. That financial problem becomes compounded if you paid as much as $31,000 a year for culinary school or decided to live in a prestigious but expensive foodie city like New York to bolster your career. Apparently, that’s not the kind of lifestyle members of our current “impatient culture” (read: millennials) are up for.

Fortune says that some restaurants are paying better or even covering school loans to fight back, but that ultimately the most feasible solution is that eventually restaurant ownership will become less fashionable and the job market will tighten back up. 

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