Local pubs, hotels and restaurants are facing a monumental struggle to recruit chefs and bar staff as the crisis in the hospitality industry deepens.

With many chefs retraining during the stop-start lockdowns of the past 22 months coupled with a growing desire among workers for a ‘work-life balance’, some establishments are receiving no replies whatsover to job adverts.

There is also the impact of Brexit, with fewer foreign workers in the country.

Lisa Jenkins, one of the owners of the Bearslake Inn at Sourton, is currently looking for two full-time chefs and an apprentice chef.

‘It is horrendous, absolutely horrendous,’ she said. ‘Since covid, obviously, a lot of people have left the hospitality industry because it has not been a secure industry during the pandemic. It is hard now to find anyone at all who is interested in hospitality work.

‘There is a monumental shortage of chefs, a lot of chefs have left the industry to retrain.

‘Obviously, also, hospitality is anti-social hours and people are looking for a work-life balance as well now.

‘It literally is the perfect storm. I’m hoping the Government might do a nice incentive scheme to encourage young people into the hospitality industry and see it as a career, because it is very rewarding.

‘At the moment I’m looking for two chefs and an apprentice chef. We are OK for front of house at the moment but by the summer we are going to need more staff.

‘We have friends in the industry and everyone is finding it the same. People are putting in job adverts and just not getting any applications.’

She could be facing a repeat of the situation which they faced last summer, with the UK coming out of lockdown and people heading west to Devon and Cornwall.

‘The demand last summer was totally there but we had to restrict numbers to ensure that our customers got served properly and everyone got a good experience,’ she said.

Also recruiting for staff the moment is The Bedford Hotel in Tavistock and The Two Bridges near Postbridge.

Sales and marketing manager Mike Coombes said: ‘It is certainly a challenge. This time of year is a busy time for recruitment; we would be recruiting normally anyway because we are gearing up for the busy spring and summer part of the year. It is fair to say, though, that recruitment is more challenging than usual and there are a couple of factors at play there.

‘There are fewer overseas workers for obvious reasons in terms of Brexit and also because of travel restrictions, which mean there are less people in the UK working in hospitality generally and that puts pressure on all hospitality services.

‘We are very fortunate here in that we have a core team who have been with us for many years and enjoy working in an environment that is friendly.

‘We are also fortunate in that we have the City College Plymouth which has an excellent catering department with students leaving with a high level of skills in hosptiality so we have lots of potential candidates.

‘There are people who took a career break during the pandemic who are looking to come back.’

He said despite the challenges, they were looking forward to what would hopefully be a busy season.