Suffolk's Michelin starred restaurant on jobs crisis facing hospitality

Justin Sharp with wife Jurga of Pea Porridge Restaurant in Bury St Edmunds

Justin Sharp with wife Jurga of Pea Porridge restaurant in Bury St Edmunds are backing a campaign to attract more people into the hospitality industry. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

The head chef of Suffolk's only Michelin-starred restaurant Pea Porridge says "seismic change" is needed in the industry to tackle the hospitality jobs crisis.

Due to reasons including Covid and Brexit there is a shortage of applicants for a large number of these vacancies, in restaurants, pubs, cafes and hotels.

Pea Porridge and award-winning Maison Bleue, both in Bury St Edmunds, are among leading restaurants that are backing a campaign to attract more people into hospitality jobs.

'Choose Hospitality' has been launched by West Suffolk College and other organisations including the Bury BID (Business Improvement District), tourism group Bury St Edmunds and Beyond and West Suffolk Council.

The campaign is working with local hospitality leaders to help celebrate the varied amount of career options on offer and to dispel industry myths.

The group also wants to create a jobs fair and work at a national level to help make working patterns more flexible and pay more enticing. 

Pea Porridge is the only Michelin-starred restaurant in Suffolk.

Pea Porridge is the only Michelin-starred restaurant in Suffolk. - Credit: Archant

Justin Sharp, owner of Pea Porridge, said: “To me, there needs to be a seismic change in the industry.


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"In order to attract more people into hospitality, employers need to do more. Whilst a four-day working week is great, I believe in paying hourly rates rather than salary and creating an environment that's fun, jovial and educational.

“With eating out being as popular than ever, it is inevitable, that with restaurants and pubs and other establishments opening in great numbers, there will be a struggle to fill positions. So we need to work out how to make our industry more attractive and lucrative as a career, not just a stop gap.” 

Chef patron Pascal and Karine Canevet of Maison Bleue

Chef patron Pascal and Karine Canevet of award-winning Maison Bleue are also supporting the campaign. - Credit: Lucy Taylor

Karine Canevet who runs Maison Bleue with husband Pascal, added: “Now more than ever we need to come together to help showcase the amazing and varied job roles that our industry offers."

Maison Bleue recently featured as one of the 10 best restaurants in Suffolk, according to Tripadvisor.

Mark Cordell (left) from Our Bury St Edmunds BID with Claire Waterson and Phil Stittle from West Suffolk College

Mark Cordell (left) from Our Bury St Edmunds BID with Claire Waterson and Phil Stittle from West Suffolk College at the launch of Choose Hospitality. - Credit: West Suffolk College

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Phil Stittle, executive director for business at West Suffolk College, said the college had teamed up with partners and industry to create a co-ordinated approach to support bars, cafes and restaurants in this region to enable them to flourish.

"I truly believe that Bury is one of the food capitals of the country and this campaign is all about making sure that it stays that way,” he said. 

Mark Cordell, chief executive of the Our Bury St Edmunds BID, said the skills shortage was not specific to Bury or Suffolk, but "if restaurants, bars and cafes can’t get the chefs and front of house staff they need - they simply can’t open".

Campaign members recently met at the college’s own Edmunds Restaurant at the Out Risbygate Campus based in Bury.   

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