San Francisco is experiencing a culinary drain of sorts due to the high cost of living in the city, which is forcing many of its most talented chefs and cooks to leave in search of more affordable cities such as Oakland in the East Bay, and beyond.
With cooks earning an average salary of $29,000 annually, it is impossible for them to afford the median monthly rent of $3,000–even with roommates–without at least taking on a second job in order to supplement their income, according to local CBS Bay Area. SF Cooking School founder Jodi Liano says her students have even taken to moonlighting as food writers just to make ends meet.
At San Francisco’s trendy RN74 restaurant, Chef Adam Sobel says they are having trouble hiring cooks that will stay long term. “You go through the process of hiring that person and investing training and all that and they leave because they aren’t able to live or afford the lifestyle. It makes it challenging,” Sobel said to CBS.
RN74 has created several incentives such as paying for public transit, affordable housing, and even higher pay in order to not only lure more culinary talent into their kitchen, but to also keep it there.
While many of San Francisco’s cooks commute to work via public transit, Liano told CBS that is also challenging considering the majority of them do not get off from work until after midnight and BART ends at midnight.
In the end Sobel says although it is tough, the life of a chef can be glamorous eventually. “You’ll have a great appreciation for everything when it comes to fruition, when you put that time in, learn the craft, do it the right way. That’s really what being a chef is all about.”