Chef shortage forces top Twin Cities restaurant to cut its hours

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A Robbinsdale restaurant recently named one of the top 10 pizza places in the country has been forced to cut its hours due to a metrowide chef shortage.

KARE 11 reports that Pig Ate My Pizza, part of the widely acclaimed Travail Kitchen and Amusements group of restaurants, has cut its opening days from five a week to four, after ads for a new chef went unanswered.

"There is no one to be hired, no matter how many times you put it out there, there's just no one coming in," Mike Brown, one of three chef owners, told the TV station.

The chef shortage comes at a time when the restaurant couldn't be busier, having seen a spike in business since it was named one of the best pizzerias in the country by Time magazine earlier this month.

"This pizza spot ... pulls off its funky, unorthodox pies with brio. Crusts include thin and deep-dish brioche, and toppings range from pulled pork shoulder to potato chips," the magazine said.

The pizzeria will now be open Wednesday through Saturday from 12-2 p.m. for lunch, and from 5 p.m-close for dinner, according to its Facebook page.

No one will do the hours; health insurance concern

According to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, the chef shortage affecting the Robbinsdale eatery is part of a Twin Cities and indeed national epidemic, as restaurants struggle to take on lower-skilled kitchen workers or servers.

Brown told Mpls. St. Paul Magazine that younger workers aren't interested in putting in the long hours of training needed to become a chef, saying: "There’s no one applying. It’s on Craigslist all day every day. No one wants to do the work to become a cook."

But there's also the issue of compensation, with the Business Journal noting that median restaurant salaries have been falling, and the 50-60 hour salary job at Travail and Pig Ate My Pizza doesn't come with health insurance.

Brown told Mpls. St. Paul Magazine the owners had been trying to offer health coverage. But since most of their workers are under the age of 26 and are on their parents' insurance, they can't get enough employees to agree to a workplace plan to make it affordable.

Anyone who's interested in cooking at Travail or Pig can get in touch via this Facebook page, or by emailing mike.brown.travail@gmail.com.

Twin Cities home to country's top chefs

There may be trouble finding the next generation of chefs, but the ones already plying their trade in the Twin Cities are among the best in the country.

The readers of USA Today and travel website 10Best named Minneapolis as the Best Local Food Scene in the U.S., beating competition from the likes of Nashville and New Orleans.

The ranking said the Twin Cities "are boiling over with new restaurants and award-winning chefs," who are "looking to the local fields and waters for inspiration."

"This is a great honor for the Twin Cities," Visit Saint Paul CEO Terry Mattson told the Pioneer Press. "It's a testament to not only our great food scene but the passionate people who support it and who voted throughout the entire contest."

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