Demand for young chefs on rise as hotels bank on rising f&b revenues
Demand for young chefs on rise as
hotels bank on rising F&B revenues
The Economics Times – Varuni Khosla & Divya Sathyanarayanan, ET Bureau Feb 4, 2014,
The number of young culinarians — chefs, sommeliers, mixologists and food artisans — at the ITC
Maurya hotel in Lutyens’ Delhi seems to have gone up suddenly. Manjit Singh Gill, the hotel group’s
corporate chef says this year alone they have added 55 young chefs to the roster, which is a 50 per
cent increase over the 100 chefs they had last year, thanks to a growing number of interactive
kitchens, live counters and buffets, where guests like the young and bubbly men and women more
than the grand old celeb chef. This move is being necessitated by a drop in revenues coming in the
In 2012-13, room revenues plunged to the lowest in a decade, according to a report by the
Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI), while the food and beverages
segment is seeing healthy numbers, coming at an opportune time for the industry. In the last fiscal
year, average room rates fell to Rs 6,214 during the financial year while occupancy dropped to 58.3
“Since F&B revenues have been clocking 10 per cent growth while room revenues have been
stagnant, we are hiring more chefs, especially young, to give F&B a push,” says Andrew W Harrison,
general manager of Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai.
Big hospitality firms say that the demand for young chefs in their hotels has shot up over 20 per cent.
Hotel majors such The Leela, The Taj, ITC, The Park and Marriott are catching them young.
Typically five-star hotels have anywhere between 12-16 chefs in each restaurant and on an average,
have close to 200 kitchen executives in each property.
The Leela’s executive vice-president — operations, Rajesh Jhingon agrees. “There is an increased
number of chefs in our properties and that percentage is close to 15-20 per cent. This increase
attributes to the fact that there are lot more show kitchens and live counter cooking styles that are
coming into play,” explains Jhingon.
Employment of young chefs is on a steady rise in the transient food and beverage industry, partly
because concept cooking is making a strong hold and partly because a lot more hands on deck are
required now. In addition to that, there are also close to 200 new hotels that have been built in the
country since 2011. Call it the MasterChef effect.
Chains are recruiting students by the hundreds since there is a growing appetite for specialised food
in the industry. Close to 40 per cent of a hotel’s income consists of revenue from food and beverage
sales alone and hotels are happy to recruit young staff because of the increasing sales. Concepts
like molecular gastronomy, pretty plating, fusion cooking and more are making up the corporate
cooking dossier as well.
ITC’s Gill adds, “There was a time when chefs were a handful and servers were abundant in the
food and beverage side. But now, chefs and servers at our hotels have a 1:1 ratio since so many
young chefs are required on the job,” he explains.
ITC absorbed close to a hundred new skilled recruits last year into their system. Hotel management
institutes concur. S Kacker, head of department, F&B service and placement coordinator at the
Institute of Hotel Management, Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition in Mumbai (IHM) says the
institute has seen over 10 per cent growth in the recruitment of talent in kitchens.
An average spend of anywhere aboveRs 2,000 at restaurants helps recover costs of staff easily.
Leevin Johnson of Ecole Hoteliere Lavasa (a private institute for hotel and hospitality management
in India) said “base salaries have close to doubled for permanent employees. In five-star hotels,
salary for young chefs now begins at around Rs 40,000 per month (once they are done with their
trainee-ship period of a year).
This is a big draw for students to become chefs. ” Taj Vivanta’s executive chef Ananda Solomon
says the hotel brand is steadily recruiting 20 per cent more chefs from schools such as IHM and ITI
since most of these institutes are now in-sync with the industry and are producing students that are
able to handle the new formats in kitchens.
The growth the profession offers is plenty too and promising young chefs try to get a foot in the door.
Vijay Wanchoo, senior vice-president and general manager at The Imperial, New Delhi, says, “Chefs
are growing at a pace faster than ever before. Today, one can be an executive chef at as young as
35 and the average age in our kitchen is between 30-35.”
At The Imperial, where there are close to 80 chefs, aside from a couple of key chefs, the entire team
is made up of chefs under 35. While there is no dearth of jobs in existing hotels, an addition of over
200 hotels in India in the last two years has also pumped several hundred more chef’s jobs into the
system. However, poaching is an imminent problem to many.
Suveer Sodhi, food and beverage director at The Lodhi, says, “We have to revise the team’s salary
structure generously year-on-year because attrition rates are high and we cannot afford to lose our
talent to newer hotels.”
Reference link: http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2014-02-04/news/47005079_1_chefsroom-revenues-rajesh-jhingon