Whatever happened to the recession? Well before America had even moderately recovered from years of joblessness restaurants first in San Francisco and New York and then in Washington, Chicago and Boston were finding it hard to impossible to attract enough talent.
In the past three years the job market has shifted from one of a tight job pool to a diminished labor pool. The causes for the shift range from the rising technology industry with its luxury cafeterias in California to an explosion in restaurant growth, as young chefs choose to start their own businesses earlier in their careers, and new money rushes to fund them.
Upcoming chefs still battle for positions in the top restaurants, those charging $400 for a meal prepared by a huge kitchen staff, but excellent restaurants with good reputations are in need of talent and experience.
The current environment provides unheard of opportunities for those growing their careers.
Restaurants are suffering financially under wage inflation, new minimum wage demands and fees and expenses set by municipal and state governments. An increasing number of regulations makes it increasingly difficult for restaurants to function risk free without expensive compliance managers and other outside services.
While some customers are not only willing but eager to pay prices into the hundreds of dollars for their meals, others are still price sensitive to a point where many restaurants are reluctant to raise prices. If they do, they lose business and lose money. If they do not, the income of the restaurant drops. The sum of that quandary means less money for payroll, which has risen to the top of all restaurant expenses, so even where living expenses have doubled in a few years (housing) compensation can lag.
It is estimated that at this time there is a balance between restaurant openings and closings, and that the cycle in increasing in speed.
These facts leave chefs with a different set of considerations than they had only a couple of years ago: Qualify of life versus glamor, choosing the best career route from a much wider choice, the question of when or if to build one's own restaurant, and the standard considerations of which direction to pursue in a career. For all of these questions, however, there is one constant: Quality of employment and stability are always a good idea.