Close this search box.

Skill shortages: Scottish kitchens waiting five months to find chefs

The S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy is currently searching for the best chefs under 30 as part of its Young Chef Competition

SCOTTISH kitchens are having to wait an average of five months to recruit and onboard chefs with the right skill set, according to research from fine-dining water S.Pellegrino.

The S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy, a global initiative which is currently searching for the best chefs under 30 as part of its Young Chef Competition, surveyed over 100 chef employers to reveal some of the biggest challenges facing the hospitality industry today and identify what support the sector needs.

Challenges facing gastronomy industry

Even though the research found that across the UK, 55% of chef employers believe there is a wealth of gastronomy talent, two thirds (67%) said that the uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has put young people off from starting a career in the industry. A vast majority (77%) went so far as to say that more effort needs to go into attracting young talent.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

Why? Free to subscribe, no paywall, daily business news digest.

The research also highlighted the need for greater support for those wanting a career as a chef; 78% said there needs to be more mentoring to help young chefs thrive, and over half (56%) said there weren’t enough networks for chefs to share practice around the world. 

The S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy is campaigning to improve perceptions of the sector and nurture the talent of tomorrow through a global network where some of the world’s leading chefs can share ideas, best practice and inspiration.

S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Competition 2022-23

The S.Pellegrino Young Chef competition is now open for entrants, and chefs under 30 years of age have the chance to register for the competition until 31st May 2022, sharing the Signature Dish that expresses their unique creativity and vision. Applications will be assessed by ALMA, the International School of Italian Culinary Arts, which will draw up the shortlist of competitors ahead of the Regional Finals. 

Selected participants for the UK competition will join the Regional Finals event that will take place on 11th and 12th OctoberThey will show their talent and compete in front of a prestigious jury made up of renowned members of the chef community, including:

·       Jason Atherton: Jason launched his flagship London restaurant, Pollen Street Social in April 2011, which was awarded a coveted Michelin star within six months of opening. Since then, his global restaurant group, ‘The Social Company’, has won multiple awards and accolades for its contribution to the UK restaurant scene. Jason now operates seven acclaimed London restaurants, two of which hold Michelin stars, and a further 7 international outposts in New York, The Philippines, Mykonos and St Moritz

·       Francesco Mazzei: Francesco Mazzei spent the early part of his career working in major cities such as Rome and London before going on to open restaurants in the likes of Edinburgh, Milan, and Bangkok. In 2008, Francesco went on to open his first restaurant in London, L’Anima, with a menu inspired by traditional cooking from Calabria, Puglia, Sicily, and Sardinia. He has also been Chef Patron at Sartoria in Mayfair since 2015 as well as Radici, a neighbourhood trattoria in Islington, and Fiume, a riverside restaurant in Battersea.

·       Lisa Goodwin Allen: Lisa Goodwin-Allen is a British chef best known for being executive chef of the Michelin starred Northcote restaurant. She also won BBC’s cooking show Great British Menu. 

·       Claude Bosi: Known for combining highly skilled classical techniques with the world’s best produce, Claude Bosi is one of the best chefs in the UK today. After rising to the top at his restaurant Hibiscus, he now mans the kitchen at the two Michelin-starred Bibendum in London.

·       Sally Abe: After cutting her teeth at the likes of Brett Graham’s The Ledbury and Phil Howard’s Elystan Street, Sally Abé rose to fame at The Harwood Arms. She’s now at the helm of The Pem inside the Conrad London St James hotel, along with three accompanying establishments.

·       Skye Gyngell: Skye Gyngell works closely with biodynamic farm Fern Verrow to bring the UK’s best produce to London. Skye has an emphasis on simple, zero-waste cookery.

·       Sat Bains: Best known for being the chef proprietor of the two-Michelin star Restaurant Sat Bains with Rooms in Nottingham, England. He won the Roux Scholarship in 1999, and worked in France, before returning to the UK and opening his own restaurant. Bains was also one of the winners on the BBC show Great British Menu in 2007.

The research found that 76% believe that top fine dining chefs are the biggest inspiration for young chefs, which is why S.Pellegrino works with leading chefs every year to be part of this initiative.

Commenting on being part of the UK jury, Jason Atheron said: “It’s a pleasure to be part of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef judging panel. Now more than ever we need to inspire and nurture the next generation of chefs and this competition helps to do just that. There is so much talent within our industry and to be able to spot and highlight these extraordinary individuals is an honour.”

Sat Bains added: ““It’s so important to put the future of our industry first – and the best way to do this is by shining a spotlight on young chefs. Therefore, I am honoured and privileged to be involved – and I look forward to meeting the finalists in October.”

Skye Gyngell commented: “When I was starting out in my career, I always looked to other chefs for inspiration – so being able to work with, future talent is something that’s incredibly important to me. S.Pellegrino’s Young Chef Academy is all about celebrating and nurturing young talent, something we must do for our industry to continue to thrive.”

The current edition, opening the Regional Finals to a higher number of competitors (175 young chefs representing at least 50 different Countries/Regions), will offer even more opportunities for young talent to embark on a culinary journey that will bring visibility, prestige and the chance to compete for the global S. Pellegrino Young Chef Award at a Grand Finale in Milan in 2023.

As with the 2019/21 edition, the 2022/23 competition will also feature three additional awards alongside the main prize: the S.Pellegrino Award for Social Responsibility voted for by the Sustainable Restaurant Association which runs the Food Made Good program, the Acqua Panna Award for Connection in Gastronomy voted for by the competition mentors, and the Fine Dining Lovers Food for Thought Award voted for by Fine Dining Lovers readers.

To start the application and discover more about the initiative please visit:

The latest stories

Pret A Manger’s Coffee Subscription Shake-Up

Pret A Manger, the famous British coffee and sandwich chain, faces a significant backlash from its customer base following the

Whitebox Cocktails Launches Second Crowdfunding Campaign

Whitebox Cocktails, one of the UK’s fastest-growing independent cocktail brands, has initiated a second crowdfunding round on Republic Europe (formerly

SHORE The Scottish Seaweed Co. Expands Nationwide with Major Retail Partnerships

SHORE The Scottish Seaweed Co. (SHORE) is celebrating a major milestone this summer. The Wick-based firm’s seaweed chips are now

Love on Tap: Innis & Gunn Romance Leads to Beer-Themed Wedding

Two Innis & Gunn superfans whose romance blossomed following a sliding doors moment working for the brewer at the Edinburgh

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

Why? Free to subscribe, no paywall, daily business news digest.