The Government was today urged to give highly skilled chefs the same immigration fast-track as top footballers.
But while foreign football stars have benefited from fast-tracked applications to work here, the Home Office consistently refuses to speed up recruitment of much-needed chefs, People 1st and the British Hospitality Association (BHA) warned.
Brian Wisdom, chief executive of People 1st, said: "The Government has known for some time that employers here are struggling to find highly skilled chefs.
"There is a certain irony in the fact that, say, a sushi chef with 12 years training - who we really need in this country - gets denied entry yet footballers from the same part of the world with less years training behind them take priority."
BHA chief executive Bob Cotton added: "There is a strong market for chefs who are based in the EU and move from place to place. However, the high-quality Asian restaurants can't find enough chefs locally and need to look abroad.
"With our food tastes evolving, there is an urgent need for great chefs and this will become even more of an issue with the influx of millions of tourists heading to London in advance of the Olympic Games."
The two organisations today sent a letter to the prime minister urging him to act now to allow the hospitality sector to urgently fill the skills gap.
By Daniel Thomas
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