News & Insights: Are temp chefs costing to much?

Are you running a kitchen on Agency chefs? build a plan for permanent chef team

Are Temp chefs costing too much? build a plan to recruitment permanent chefs


Many kitchen’s are having to manage higher energy prices and food cost prices. This is difficult for any business to try and balance. You will not hear many Recruiters say this, one area many kitchens can reduce the cost is the ongoing Temp / Agency chefs in the kitchen. A few years ago kitchens would only have a temp worker for a few weeks to cover busy periods like christmas, weddings or other peak periods.

Over the past 2 years many kitchens have temps all year round, which can add so much to your wage bill. Switching back to full time chefs could help save your kitchen money. With bills going up, this is now the time to start working on bringing a team of permanent chefs into your team


You might be saying, how do we find and keep our chefs. This is why we have been having Temps all year round. The answer has to start with your retention plan.



Wages: Are you paying market rates as the basic salary (not as service charge or tips)


Overtime: many years ago overtime was not paid, this meant a some chefs went to the temp market to be paid for every hour. These days many clients are paying overtime.  If you have a worker short in your kitchen or extra bookings, you are saving on the wage bill, so paying extra for the extra hours will help keep workers happy. This is overtime based on what ever hours you mention in your terms, if that is 40 hours, 45 hrs, 48 hours – it can range from client to client, overtime on the hours above


Live in: many clients are now looking into accommodation for the employees. This is a great way to secure great talent. With the rent market as bad as it is and the high deposits needed, if you can offer live in, this will increase the pool of talent available.


Live in costs: keeping this as low as you can will help secure talent and keep it. It will also help with switching chefs from temp to perm


Benefits:  having meaningful benefits is so important. This could be something like perk box that gives discounts in stores,  it could be team meals, team nights out

Hours: Can you reduce the hours down or reduce the split shifts. Can you close on a monday and tuesday to give everyone set days off. it will be different for every business, keeping the hours down can really help. Hospitality no longer does 70 hour weeks, its more like 45-48hrs we are finding. With minimum wage going up, by keeping the hours down, will also help keep costs down.   Are you open on a monday for just 10 covers?, if so, can you close and save energy costs and food wastage etc etc. 

Themed days: one thing that can  help break the year up is having themed days, this is something you miss out on in the temp world. These some things can mean a lot to the staff but does not have to cost loads.  It could be pancakes on pancake day, sweats at end of october, sausages on national sausage day, hot chocolate on hot chocolate day, christmas jumper day, cheese cake day 1st August etc .  These are great ways to help the team feel the value.


Service charge / tips: these are always additional and help to create a culture of upselling (service charge) and great service (tips). having this is very important in addition to the wages being at market value.


Training plans: this might sound simple, giving regular goals, aims, career or wage path growth is so important. If your planning to increase a wage, tell them in advance and give goals to hit. Doing this will help to retain the worker. They might be thinking they have no value to the business, so telling them of the value helps to keep the worker



All these steps will help to recruit full time workers for your business but more important keep them. You might not hear a recruiter say this often, it is in no ones interest if a employee leaves before a natural employee journey has come to a end. We find 90% of the reasons given is for the above reasons, so having these retention plans in place will help you to recruit full time chefs and reduce the need for agency chefs.


H t e recruitment is a recruitment agency offering a finders service for companies looking to recruit full time team members. We want to work in partnership with companies to help companies bring on full time members of staff. We see the most important part of the recruitment plan is the retention plan, as mentioned above and then work backwards from that plan to the recruitment plan. Recruitment without a retention plan does not work.


We are honest and the above we are trying to be as honest as we can.

here is the plan:

  • research the market rates for basic salary for your area (we can also do this for you)
  • ask your current team which benefits would be the most important
  • research if accommodation would be a option and the price
  • pick at least 4 themed days that will work for your business, ideally one per QTR so it spreads out
  • work out if you can do bonus, tips, service, incentives
  • Look at the total hours and the split shifts,  can you work smarter to give a work life balance. 


HtE Recruitment News & Insights

This news and insights page has been written by Rick our Director. This is only a guide to some ideas. To decide the best way forward for you.  HtE Recruitment take no responsibility for this post.

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