One of the clearest obstacles to hiring a good cook, let alone someone willing to work the kitchen these days, is that living in this country’s biggest cities is increasingly unaffordable. In New York, for instance, where a cook can expect to make between $10 and $12 per hour, and the median rent runs upward of $1,200 a month, living in the city is a near impossibility. As a result, people end up living far from the restaurants where they work. Add to that how late dinner shifts can end, causing people to arrive home well into the night.Maybe basing a whole industry on labor supplied by a marginalized servant class you expect to keep motivated by the empty promise that they'll all eventually bootstrap themselves up into becoming a million Guy Fieris is not such a great idea. Especially when the rent keeps getting too damn higher. And extra especially when nobody can afford to go out to eat anymore for... some mysterious reason that certainly has nothing to do with the fact that nobody makes enough money to cover things like rent.
Top it all off with the fact that culinary school graduates are often working through significant amounts of debt, and the burden can be insurmountable.
It’s not as if restaurants are cheating workers out of heaping piles of cash, either. There simply isn’t a whole lot of money circulating. The National Restaurant Association estimates that the median profit margin for mid-level establishments (those with average checks of $25 and higher) was 4.5 percent. Celebrity chefs and successful restaurateurs exist, but they are the exception. And a good deal of the money earned by the former comes in the form of television contracts, book deals, guest appearances and other tangential earnings.
I'm sure some Brennan or other will tell you the problem is finding reliable workers. Or maybe street performers.