The tourism industry requires around 40,000 workers a year, 8 percent of them for F&B, according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism.
Le Mai Khanh, vice chairwoman of the Vietnam Hotel Association, said but for a small number of professional chefs at four- and five-star hotels, most chefs in other hotels lack professional expertise and cannot cook a wide range of dishes or meet customers’ demands.
“Hotels and kitchens [therefore] intensely compete for skilled workers.”
Nguyen Xuan Minh, executive chef at the five-star Hanoi Daewoo Hotel, told local media: “Large hotels mostly have foreigners, who cannot make Vietnamese cuisine well, as head chefs. This results in slow development of the culinary field and a lack of diversity in tourism products.”
There are 9,000 hotels and restaurants in the country but only 190 institutions that offer hospitality training, including universities, colleges, technical schools, vocational schools, and short-course training establishments.
According to a survey by the HCMC Professional Chefs Guild, only 30 percent of chefs in Ho Chi Minh City have formal training.
“Traditional cooks are limited in terms of knowledge of culinary culture, food preservation, processing methods, and food safety and hygiene. They are also not proficient in the use of chemical additives and seasoning, and often cook by instinct,” Minh said.
“So, to make cuisine a tourism product, we need to focus on developing human resources for the kitchen,” he added
The big demand for chefs offers huge opportunities for young people, according to industry insiders.
The Hanoi Center for Employment Services said the monthly salary for commis starts at VND7 million ($303). The average monthly income of head chefs in hotels and restaurants is VND15 – 20 million, but could rise to hundreds of millions of dong (VND100 million = $4,334) in large hotels.
Deputy Chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Association, Vu The Binh, said there are over 50,000 chefs currently working in large hotels and restaurants, and over 100,000 others working for other establishments.