The TV chef and food writer Rick Stein is urging unemployed chefs in other parts of the UK to consider moving to Cornwall to work in his family’s restaurant empire.
The restaurant and hotel group, which has 13 eateries, is trying to fill 39 vacancies, including for a pastry chef and junior sous chef at its famous Seafood Restaurant in Padstow.
“If you have found yourself out of work due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I urge you to consider coming to Cornwall,” said Stein. “It’s thriving, and with travel bans still in place there is great hope that the staycation will extend through to early winter and bring some much-needed revenue to the locality.”
With a number of local staff opting not to return to customer-facing roles, Stein said there was a need for new talent in the business. “I would love to see new members of the team coming from more hard-hit areas of the country,” he said.
The group’s accommodation venues are also close to full occupancy for the summer season, and the company said there were jobs going across the board, including in front of house and finance.
Since the company started recruiting last month, it has received more than 3,500 applications for the jobs, which range from minimum-wage to salaried roles. In 2019 the group received 5,500 applications over the whole year.
One demi-chef position received 111 applications, which is 10 times the usual level, the company said. For some roles there is help with accommodation.
However, despite the high volume of applications, Michael Rabone, the group’s head of human resources, said it was struggling with a large number of “no-shows”.
“We’ve seen a noticeable increase in the number of no-shows at all stages of the recruitment process,” said Rabone. “This includes candidates that apply and cannot be contacted, candidates invited to interview that do not attend, and individuals offered roles that do not start work.”
The family-run group has not emerged unscathed from the crisis, which forced restaurants and bars to shut for several months. There were job losses at head office and at one point it was thought that two of its venues – Porthleven and Marlborough – would have to close permanently. However, the latter was saved after the landlord reduced the rent.
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