Plenty of chef jobs available at Asian and Oriental restaurants

In the UK we're lucky to have an incredibly diverse restaurant scene, with cuisines from all over the world represented on the typical British high street.

And not only is this good for consumers, it can also provide opportunities for those looking for chef jobs, who have a choice of different global cuisines in which to specialise.

One area in particular that could offer ample opportunities for those looking to start or progress a career in the food industry could be the Asian and Oriental restaurant sector, with establishments offering Indian, Thai, Chinese and Japanese food experiencing something of a boom.

Figures released earlier this year indicate there are some 11,100 Asian and Oriental restaurants throughout the UK.

Approximately 60 per cent of these serve Indian food, 28 per cent Chinese and eight per cent serve Thai food.

Japanese restaurants are also gaining in popularity with 216 more Japanese restaurants operating than three years ago, which represents a 121 per cent increase.

The south-east in particular is currently seeing a boom in restaurants offering this type of cuisine, with figures from the Hospitality Guild showing that the number of Asian and Oriental restaurants in the region has increased by 22 per cent between 2009 and 2012.

Brian Wisdom, chief executive of People 1st, the skills council for the hospitality sector, comments: "The increase in the number of Asian and Oriental restaurant businesses in the south-east is encouraging as many restaurants have been struggling to keep their doors open during the recession."

However, despite the expansion of this part of the restaurant industry, many Asian and Oriental establishments are having difficulty in recruiting employees, particularly when it comes to chef jobs.

There appears to be something of a skills gap in the sector, with too few young chefs choosing to specialise in this type of cuisine.

Further Hospitality Guild research found that almost one in every three (30 per cent) 16-24 year olds and 30 per cent of unemployed people would consider working in a top Asian or Oriental restaurant.

Yet an apprenticeship scheme recently launched by the organisation is struggling to find subscribers.

The problem may be that not enough people are aware of the opportunities on offer in the Asian and Oriental restaurant industry.

"We have leading employers in the sector signed up and committed to offering apprenticeship programmes but we've not been able to fill the final handful of training places we have available," says Suzy Jackson, executive director of the Hospitality Guild.

"It's encouraging to see that a third of young people would consider a career within Asian and Oriental cuisine but we need to collectively work together to reach them and explain the fantastic opportunities available to help people find worthwhile jobs."

One aspect of the sector many may not be aware of is the extent to which it has developed over recent years. There is now a huge amount of variety in the Asian and Oriental restaurant market, from small independent restaurants and takeaways, to large chains such as Wagamama or Ping Pong and gourmet and luxury dining establishments.

Aktar Islam, founder of award-winning restaurant, Lasan, which was crowned in 2009 as the UK's best local restaurant by Gordon Ramsay, is among the top chefs currently working in the sector who sees it as a great career choice for aspiring cooks.

"I was pressurised by my family to get a professional white-collar job and a respectable career such as law, engineering or medicine. I went into catering and hospitality, which they were not too happy about at the time. Now they are proud of me," he says.

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