Shortage of Chinese and South Asian chefs impacts Metro Vancouver restaurants


During the lunch rush at The Boss on Main, there are about 100 people seated in the booths eating and ordering food. In the kitchen everyone is working full-tilt including cook Shuji Chen.

Chen’s specialty is preparing the kinds of Hong Kong-style Chinese food that regulars like. He’s an expert in using a commercial wok. It’s much more challenging to use than a home wok because it’s bigger and heavier and doesn’t have a single long handle to grab onto: you have to learn how to cook — and not burn yourself — by holding the side grip with a cloth.

What makes Chen unusual is his age. At 64, he’s been working in the kitchen of The Boss since he came to Vancouver from Guangzhou in 1986. After 28 years, he’s dropped down to working four days a week from six. He knows he’s getting close to retirement but he plans to keep cooking, at least for a few more years.

What’s happening with Chen in the kitchen of The Boss is not unique in Metro Vancouver. There is a general shortage of chefs for many restaurants but it’s even worse in restaurants specializing in the national cuisines of China, India and other countries. Chefs are aging and they’re not being replaced either with new immigrants with specialized cooking skills or by locally-trained chefs.

The Boss in Chinatown is one of many restaurants serving Chinese, Indian and other national cuisines facing a shortage of trained chefs.

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The Boss in Chinatown is one of many restaurants serving Chinese, Indian and other national cuisines facing a shortage of trained chefs.

Behind the scenes, restaurants are figuring out ways to deal with the shortage. Some are …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun

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