How are businesses planning for life after Brexit and the new Skilled Workers Visa system?
Posted on Monday, February 1, 2021 by Alan Pizzaiolo Tribe — No comments
How are businesses planning for the shortage of pizza chefs that we will (most likely) have in the UK ? We asked the question on social media and the answers we received were mainly on the line of “this is not going to affect us very much”
Brad Stevens, founder of Pizza Punk and Veganizza said “We train our own guys from scratch all aspects. Sourdough starter maintenance, making dough and prove process, opening dough, wood oven work etc etc. So don’t see it being a big issue for us”. Then Victoria, operation manager at Crust Bros echoed a similar feeling by saying that businesses will need to concentrate on retaining and develop the staff they already have”
Here at pizzaiolotribe.com we believe that the pandemic has somehow softened this blow as no one can really travel at the moment and very few people would risk leaving their current employer. We will start seeing the full effects of this in the next 6 to 12 months and then what will happen is anyone’s guess.
As a small pizza operator myself I know for sure that sponsoring a pizzaiolo from abroad is not, financially and time wise, an option and the only way I can see out of this is simplifying our processes and train local people. When I look at the work flow in my pizzeria I think our job can be divided in 3 major stages
- Doing the prep.
During the first lockdown we got so busy, so suddenly, that I had to train a couple of people on making the dough and prepping. Although many pizza chefs would have you believe that to make pizza dough you need a degree in chemistry, preparing a basic pizza dough, following a recipe it’s fairly simple and most people with a brain or as they say in England “switched on” can do that. I think where the “degree in chemistry” comes into play is when we need to manage the dough in different conditions (hot, cold, time we have before using it etc). This takes a fare amount of experience.
This is in my opinion the hard bit. Stretching pizzas by hand takes a while to master and some people will never master it no matter how much training they put in. And then even if they master it, of course the trick is doing it at speed. Speed is then essential in putting the toppings on, while being accurate as well. Finally we need to lift those pizzas into the oven without them losing their shape, spin them, make sure they are well cooked (but not burned), finish them off (think parma ham, rocket, parmesan shavings” send the right order to the right table or delivery. In some nations like Germany they solved the problem by stretching pizzas with a roller pin and cooking them in trays (padellino). This may work for some. If you intend to open a small pizzeria in the UK I would highly suggest you get some experience in pizza making as more likely than not at some point you will have to get your hands dirty
- Cleaning, compliance, planning
This can be taught. Although if you expect your pizza chef to come up with specials and ideas you need to have a person that genuinely loves food and pizza. In general I would recommend hiring people that have a passion for food anyway. How can you trust a pizzaiolo that doesn’t love pizza?
Photo by Juan Manuel Núñez Méndez