The chef, whose second restaurant is a more casual version of his acclaimed debut EC3, has branded 80% of people looking for a job in his kitchen as being “useless”.
“It’s impossible to find chefs. You have so many new restaurants opening every week, and it’s hard to keep up with demand,” Cochran told BigHospitality’s sister publication MCA.
“You have chef de parties who can’t dice an onion, demanding £26,000. I would say 80% are useless. You don’t find chefs like you did back in the day.”
Cochran also says that he is unable to compete with the wages some restaurant groups are prepared to pay for staff.
“When you have big restaurants paying £26,000 for a chef de partie, for someone like me starting out, you have to find commis and pay them £21,000 and train them up. That’s the best way. Either that or you go to the colleges and recruit from there.”
Cochran is concentrating on flatbreads at N1, which has just opened in the Angel Central shopping centre in Islington, with a menu that includes his signature buttermilk jerk chicken. The more refined EC3 will remain his flagship.
“At Angel the food is very comforting and full of flavour. It’s a completely different demographic to EC3. You can have a flatbread a beer for £20 which is not a bad price point,” he says.
Cochran has also revealed his ideas for future ventures, which include an English-style kebab shop, a cider and cheese concept as well as a contemporary jerk chicken restaurant.
“I don’t know any cheese and cider places, I’d like to pair them, it would be unusual, and it would showcase English produce,” he says.
“There’s a lot of chicken places, like Chick ‘n’ Sours, and a lot of the reviews have highlighted my jerk chicken, so I’d like a jerk place banging out hip hop with lots of craft beers.”