MAJOR ISSUE: My Place Restaurant owner David Hadid (pictured front with staff Rob Whitfield, Filippo Catinelli and Dean Brooks) said the current chef shortage was the worst he'd seen in three decades.
MAJOR ISSUE: My Place Restaurant owner David Hadid (pictured front with staff Rob Whitfield, Filippo Catinelli and Dean Brooks) said the current chef shortage was the worst he'd seen in three decades. Patrick Woods

Chef shortage pushes restaurateurs to boiling point

A CHEF shortage is sweeping the Sunshine Coast, pushing restaurateurs to boiling point.

My Place Restaurant owner and 30-year hospitality veteran David Hadid said the current crisis was the worst he'd seen in three decades.

A Coast business owner for the last 12 years, Mr Hadid said he'd brought his retired former head chef back into the kitchen while Mr Hadid, who had always run his businesses from the front of house, had been forced to work the grill himself.

"I don't know why it's so bad," he said.

The Coolum Beach restaurateur said a number of eateries in the area were reducing trading hours, closing on quieter days, to deal with the staffing shortfall.

"You put an ad on (online) and you get no response whatsoever," he said.

"It is a major issue for us."

Chefs have been in hot demand around the region, with recent ads placed on local hospitality social media group pages from cafes and restaurants seeking experienced cooks.

Some ads were seeking additional staff as they top-up ahead of the traditionally bumper Christmas holiday period.

Mr Hadid acknowledged staffing had always been a challenge in hospitality, but he said it'd never been this difficult to find people keen to become creative, culinary stars.

He said the lure of better salaries in capital cities pulled plenty away from the Coast, while the increased cost of employing apprentices and difficulty in sponsoring overseas chefs added to the challenge.

"It's a hard, physical industry, with long hours in the heat of the kitchen," Mr Hadid said.

"It's a really competitive industry.

"It can be a good career. People still have a lot of passion for cooking and working in the kitchen."

TAFE Queensland East Coast region general manager Ana Rodger said their cookery courses remained popular with international students, but they had experienced a "slight decline" in local apprentice numbers.

She said the growth of the region and developments in tourism and accommodation were providing plenty of opportunities.

"It's an incredibly exciting time for the cookery and hospitality industry," she said.

She said students of all ages who were passionate about food, creative and driven found chef careers "highly rewarding".

But she warned it was a "labour of love and you need to be prepared to put in the hard work to succeed".