Brexit could destroy the British restaurant industry if it becomes impossible to hire European staff, Bruce Poole warned as he received Lifetime Achievement recognition at the inaugural Harden’s London Restaurant Awards on Monday September 12.
“I’d like to say, in light of recent events, that without these young European people we’d be fucked,” he said from the stage as he received his award at the London Hippodrome Casino, in Leicester Square.
Poole employs more than 150 people at Chez Bruce in Wandsworth Common and its stablemates, The Glasshouse in Kew and La Tompette in Chiswick. “Most of them are European, in particular the front-of-house staff,” Poole said. “At Chez Bruce I can only think of one waiter who is English.”
Tim Siadatan, founder of Trullo in Highbury and Padella, the Borough Market pasta specialist shortlisted for Top Cheap Eat in the Harden’s awards, seconded Poole’s warning. A star graduate of Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen apprenticeship project, Siadatan now employs 60 people across the two establishments, and said that less than 5 per cent of applicants for starter-level jobs as a kitchen porter are British.
David Moore of Pied Ã Terre in Fitzrovia described a recent “chef crisis” that was only solved when his Greek senior sous chef called on contacts in Greece – precisely the sort of high-speed hiring that could become impossible under the new employment laws envisaged once the UK formally leaves the EU.