T here is a crisis in the kitchen of America’s restaurants. It is going to get worse before it gets... well, it may not actually get better.
For the past year, I’ve been traveling around the country eating and talking, and in every city I’ve been to, the chefs gripe about the same thing: It is impossible to find cooks anymore. You see it everywhere. Almost every local paper has a story that kicks off with a lede featuring a chef begging anyone who can hold a pan and pick a paring knife out of a lineup to come work for him or her.
Most stories out there talk about the more pedestrian, short-term problems that come with a cook shortage. Dumbing down menus, a boom in double shifts, not knowing who to go to for advice on tattoos featuring cleavers, etc. But what they don’t mention is that this shortage has the potential to fundamentally change restaurants in America -- from the way we eat out and what we pay to eat out, to what we pay the people who cook what we eat out, and how they’re treated in the kitchens.
Here’s the reason the restaurant industry makes as much sense as a Harmony Korine film: Restaurants don’t make any money. Pretty much ever.
If I gave out a superlative award for “most popularly maligned group of persons,” the millennials would win it in a landslide.