Employment data this year suggests a 17% drop in the number of chefs reported to be working in the UK.
An analysis of Office of National Statistics (ONS) employment data from 2018 compiled by luxury hospitality recruiter the Change Group suggested a decline in the number of chefs compared to the same time period in 2017, with the overall number of people working in hospitality in the UK falling by 6%.
The estimated number of female chefs fell by 39% during the period, and the number of male chefs by 10%, meaning women are estimated to represent less than one in five (17%) of chefs working in the UK.
However, the data also indicated that the number of women in management positions is on the increase, and that in certain cases, women are overtaking men at this level.
For example, the number of women publicans and managers of licensed premises increased by 133%, from 9,000 to 21,000 workers, while the numbers of men in these roles increased by a more modest 11%, from 18,000 to 20,000 people.
Similarly, the number of women estimated to be working as catering and bar managers grew by 52% to 44,000, while the number of men working in these roles has stayed the same, at 35,000.
Front of house, the numbers of waiters and waitresses has declined slightly, by just over 5%, while the number of bar staff has increased by around 11%. Women still dominate front of house roles and bar roles, with just over three in five positions being filled by female employees.
Craig Allen, founder and director of the Change Group, said: "The dramatic decline in the number of chefs at a time when hospitality continues to thrive suggests that the real issue is sourcing chefs - it's not a shortage of positions.
"The fact that there are now so many women working in management positions sends a strong message that hospitality can be an inclusive environment for female talent. However, the decline in the number of female chefs, at a time when some of the leading lights in London's fine dining scene are women, is very sad. More needs to be done to ensure that roles are structured to be accessible for women throughout their careers, especially in top kitchens.
"A main concern is that immigration policy must create a candidate pool for unskilled jobs that British workers often do not wish to apply for."