10th February 2019
London’s Chinatown is on the verge of running out of top chefs because of the government’s strict immigration rules, according to the London Chinatown Chinese Association.
The area’s trade body has claimed an inability to recruit expert chefs from China has left it fearing for the future of the Soho district. Some restaurants have been forced to close. Others have reverted to buffet and steam pot food, which doesn’t require the specialist craft and years of training of authentic Chinese cooking.
Tighter ‘Tier 2’ immigration rules were enforced in 2014. The Home Office said it wants to “nurture more home-grown talent”.
Lawrence Lee, a spokesman for Association, said this completely misses the point: “Chinese restaurants rely on Chinese labour. It’s very difficult to find workers. The government is not helping too much to ease the problem. Chinese restaurants are different to other businesses. Chefs have to have a certain knowledge in cooking. And some chefs are not very good in English, so they need Chinese waiters to communicate with them. But without these highly-skilled chefs, a lot of Chinese restaurants are now closing or changing their food,” he said.