News & Insights: 2023 predictions

What might happen in the chef market in 2023

What has happened in 2022 in the chef market (UK)

The chef market has been a challenge in 2022 across the UK, with some regions finding it harder. London has really found it hard. We have noticed this year has got very salary focused across the UK and each chef has about 5-6 options, so vacancies do need to stand out.

The way clients need to interview has had to change and the time scales are so important, we are finding you loose a candidate within 3 days if the client does not give an answer.

Most kitchens are short staffed and running on long term temp chefs, which costs alot of money. Temps are meant to be a peak period solution not a all year round solution. Running a kitchen on temps, can only push up running costs

Basic salary have also gone up this year by about £2-3k per position, in previous years the increase we have seen is around £500-£1000 increase.

(This page was written in November 2022, looking at what might happen in 2023)

predictions 2023 – will extra supply of chefs be available with Restaurants closing?

It has been in the media that about 50 hospitality companies are closing per week at the moment. One comment we are hearing alot at the moment is, this will increase chef supply. Looking into this, we do not believe it will increase the supply that much. The establishments closing at the moment are small independent Restaurants, often chef owned. There is also coffee shops closing and office worker focused outlets. This will increase supply in this market however often not the skill set for Rosette Restaurants, Hotels, Fine dining etc.

Most kitchens have Temp workers currently, the extra supply might be of relief chefs. The wave of redundancies might be lower due to kitchens currently short staffed.  These chefs are looking to be a relief chef and often do not want to stay in the same kitchen. Long term Agency chefs often want to stay with the benefits of being a agency chef. IR35 rules mean you need them on payroll.

Our view is that retention is still essential, to keep current chefs as it will be still hard to source a chef with the right skills.

The question that needs to be asked is – is the restaurant that just closed doing our style of food? One recent newspaper report said Curry restaurants is one Restaurant type that is the worse affected. Another newspaper report said a third of coffee shops might close due to energy & milk costs.  This is essential to ask this question, some might wait to see who closes and try to recruit these chefs however you need to ask yourself, will the skillset be right? So far there not been any major reports of Hotels or Fine dining restaurants closing. This happened in the credit crunch, some types of businesses was more affected then others. Hotels do have the benefit of UK based weekends away & also with the low £, it makes the UK a good location for oversea tourists.


predictions 2023: will hotels used as Asylum seekers

The home office have a number of contracts now for some larger hotels to be closed to the public and used to house Asylum seekers, with contracts for 12 months often. This will of course lead to some redundancies and the food becomes very different. This will result in some chef redundancies however our view is that the hotels often used will be branded style hotels with a branded food offering. This would put more supply into the branded chef market but not into the fresh food chef market. These would often be at under performing hotels, our view from a chef market is it might only add 1-2 chefs into the chef market.


predictions 2023: will wages go down with more supply?

One view we have heard is that with independent Restaurants closing, this will reduce wages. We do not feel this will be the case as Hotels are in such short supply of chefs, most chefs still have 5-6 options. If one kitchen reduces the salaries, this will then move chefs to other kitchens. The chef shortage is that big, with 80% of kitchens being short, our view looking at the data we get is that salaries will remain and not decrease

predictions 2023: will wages go up

Chef wages have increased alot in 2022, from the data we have seen, we feel that wages might start to settle at the new normal rates. Some kitchens are still paying older rates, these will increase to the new normal rates but we think the new rates might settle over the next 6 months. Companies are having to balance other cost increases as well, this might settle salaries, we do not think they would decrease from these new normal levels.

predictions 2023: will service charge still be a big focus?

In recent years we have seen service charge increase alot, there are benefits of this. We have noticed since the summer of 2022 candidates asking more about what the basic salary is and not the total package. There seem to be a bit of a move to the salary amount and not the package amount. This is really interesting, as there was a move to fixed service amounts. It will be interesting what happens in 2023 regarding service charge, as it becoming one of the 1st questions asked by questions – what is the basic part of the package. 

predictions 2023: Will less agency chefs be needed?

We have seen that so many kitchens are using Agency chefs in 2022 and that the rates for this has gone up alot in 12  months. We think that with energy costs and other costs, that companies will have a push to recruit full time and try and reduce the number of Temp chefs. We also think temp chef rates might decrease in 2023.

predictions 2023: skill gap

Currently we have about 174,000 job vacancies in hospitality in the UK that can not be filled due to lack of talent for various reasons. I do think  that the number of gaps will reduce due to some small restaurants closing but the skill gap is that big, i do think we will end 2023 with a gap unless the visa rules are changed.  We might see people coming back into hospitality, i do think this will be small number as many sectors have a skill gap.

predictions 2023: hours chef work

With minimum wage going up, our view from what we have seen and spoken to clients is that the total hours might get reduced. Companies might reduce trading hours to help balance the books


predictions 2023: companies still will recruit

kitchens are very short staffed at the moment and many restaurants are not at capacity with 174000 current gaps. Speaking to one client this week, he said that if he can increase the kitchen team from 4 to 5 chefs, he can increase the tables and takings would go up by about £100k. As kitchens are short staffed our feeling is that kitchens will recruit chefs to reduce the focus on temps & help increase takings, which will help with energy costs.


predictions 2023: will companies still use Agencies to help recruit?

You would expect us to say yes, we really do feel that there is a need for agencies in 2023, so much so, we are looking to increase our team size to help clients more. Yes there are costs to use agencies however agencies do so much work in the background to help source a candidate, manage the candidate, sell your concept to them etc. In a difficult chef market, your team need to be able to focus on the business and not the recruitment functions. The market is hard at the moment, with chefs having 5-6 options, selling your concept/brand/kitchen is so essential. This is why we feel a Recruitment agency has a place in 2023 and Agencies can really add value to your business. Temp chefs can cost alot, so using a Agency to find full time chefs can really help in the long run.


predictions 2023: menu sizes

We have seen a few news reports and seen for ourselfs, that menu sizes have reduced, another report said 30% of restaurants have done this in 2022.. This is not a bad thing, as you can focus on your best dishes, keep the ingredients fresh, keep staffing under control, reduce food waste. We feel that the days of menus with 30 main dishes has come to a end, having 5-8 dishes that are done really well might become the new norm.   This is not a bad thing for food waste. Be known for these dishes and known for doing them really well


predictions 2023: will pastry go external again?

Over 15 years of trading we have seen pastry change so much, from external pastry to inhouse then back to external and in recent years back to inhouse. With energy costs, pastry is often on a lower heat however needing 20-30mins cooking time etc etc. We think some smaller kitchens might look at external companies again for pastry items. This is not ideal at all, consumers might be having 2 course not 3 course, pastry often the dish that is cut from spending when costs are tight.

predictions 2023: investment in tech

We have started to see this at the budget end with  you using machines to order food in many fast food establishments like Leons, McDonalds etc. We have seen many budget hotels having self check in machines as well. This all fills the skill shortage gaps. We have not seen that much investment in kitchens however I do think this might come. It is so hard to find prep chefs and commis chefs many kitchen have said, maybe long gone are the days you pay a commis to chop carrots all day, with minimum wage increasing in 2023, i do think there be a greater use of machines for this.  You have been able to buy pre washed/cut items for years however it so expensive. Maybe inhouse machines might start to be used more.

predictions 2023: no shows for restaurants & consumer spending

Table no shows can be make or break for restaurants. We are already seeing deposits being charged in some restaurants and we think this will increase, to stop the trend of consumers booking 3 restaurants and decide on the day which to go to.

Consumer spending: this is a hard one for predictions, it will depending on interest rates and the type of market you trade in. The under 23 dining market should still do well, as disposable income should still be ok, as many are delaying moving out due to rent costs, this means they still have disposable income.   We also think clients aiming at the “grey pound” market  (over 60s) should still have consumers, with pensions going up at 10%, this market in general will still eat out. The one prediction on spending we think will happen is people will spend the same amount, if prices go up, they will pick a cheaper item on the  menu or miss a pudding and do 2 starter and mains. They might have 2 glasses of wine and not 3!..

predictions 2023: opening hours

I have said this for a long time now, I do think hospitality will go to a 5 day a week, Wednesday to sunday. Monday is a loss making day often and makes more sense to open 5 days, this way you need less staff and control food costs better,

predictions 2023: banqueting

We think this might remain at similar levels, most are booked 2 years ahead of time and most people will still spend at a “life” mark celebration like a graduation or wedding, as it a one off. They might cut down on the daily coffee or sandwich on the go, the “life” events they will still want to do.

predictions: food to go

All the above is based on “dine in” markets.  The food to go market will be interesting for 2023. As consumers cut down, our view is that consumers will still want social events, going out for food/drink/time away. We think that food to go or home delivery might get reduced, consumers focus on the social side of hospitality.  Instead of a pre packed sandwich for £2 each day, they might cut that but still go out for a drink or a meal end of the week. Hospitality is much more then just food whereas food to go is just food, which can be made in the house.

predictions 2023: hospitality is hospitality

We have seen this before with foot and mouth in the Lakes 14 years ago and credit crunch 11 years ago.  Hospitality is all about the Hospitality not just having some food, it the whole service. It is what you can not get at home in the microwave.  In times like we are in, hospitality needs to really step up to attract the whole package. We seen this before, the companies who do, are the ones who do well in these periods.

predictions 2023: Will i be able to recruit a chef?

It will not be much easier to this year however yes chefs are available, if the salary and package is within market rates. There will be more temps in the market, don’t forget many long term temps often want to stay as a long term temp and will go back to being a temp chef if offered a good rate (not in every case, but it does happen sadly). Recruiting a full time chef is something HtE recruitment can help you with in 2023. we do not cover temp chefs and only cover perm positions, this means we will not push you down the expensive temp chef route.

I would suggest that your business does everything they normally would to find talent, ensure salary is within current market rates, have interview and retention plans in place. Yes some Hospitality might close but so far it is looking like Curry Restaurants and coffee shops. If you are a Hotel, this would not be the same talent market. We do feel the chef shortage will continue due the staffing levels after brexit.


HtE Recruitment is a multi sector recruiter with our Hospitality division trading for 15 years. The above is based on views listening to clients, the media and our views based on 15 years. If you are looking for a Recruiter to help you match, we understand the market well and can support your business in recruiting for chefs, HtE Recruitment is here to help you. HtE Recruitment do not take any responsibility for this page, it is just based on views and general thinking, every business is different and we would advise you to research locally the best approach for your business. 

Other chef News & Insight posts:

Contact us

Manchester Head office address:
3000 Aviator Way
Airport City Business Park
M22 5TG

Call us:
0161 300 7862 (Northern Office)*
0203 542 6103 (Southern Office)*

Email: [email protected]