The education system is failing hospitality with too few chefs leaving with adequate skills, according to Oliver Peyton.
The Peyton and Byrne owner and Great British Menu judge was speaking ahead of his appearance at The Caterer Summit next month. He said that that hospitality wasn't being taken seriously enough either by parents, teachers or the government.
"There's a complete dearth of chefs at the moment," Peyton said. "I feel it's at crisis point. So many restaurants have opened up and continue to open up.
"Apprenticeships are fine but government still has a terribly blinkered view of the importance of hospitality to the UK economy, particularly in terms of how we educate our young people. We need to promote the concept of going into higher level education in hospitality."
He said that there was a particular skills gap when it came to operational levels, where the next generation of head chefs and general managers were being let down by the education system.
Peyton added: "We need to extend and make much grander our proposition. Hospitality needs to be at third level [degree level] education. We're just not at that point. It needs to be seen as that kind of opportunity. Why can't people do hospitality degrees to the extent where they are useful?"
At present, Peyton said he saw too many chefs that enter the industry without the skill set to run a kitchen. "They must be a keen business manager, a sergeant major, really creative. It's a difficult thing to ask someone who can put a nice dish on the table but can't run a kitchen.
"When I started the business I used to employ chefs on the basis that they would do stages at various restaurants in France and, latterly, the US. Now they're as likely to go chopping ribs in some dude food place in Shoreditch and think they're a chef.
"I like all those places, but I just think that chefs think that they are chefs because they've worked in a single product restaurant. They're not."
• Oliver Peyton will be interviewed at The Caterer Summit, which takes place on 6 and 7 November. The two day conference includes panel sessions on changing service styles, people development, and tipping, along with presentations from Silvano Giraldin and Robbie Bargh. Admission is just £150 a day.