High Rents Send Cooks out of San Francisco

A restaurant town becomes too expensive for its own restaurants

By Chris Roberts
|  Thursday, Dec 26, 2013  |  Updated 3:39 PM PDT
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Cooks at some of San Francisco's top restaurants can hardly afford to live in the city they work.

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Plenty of delicious food everywhere -- but nobody to cook it.

Cooks are in short supply in San Francisco, where high rents mean the low-paid, hard-working "engines" of top restaurants with Michelin stars are fleeing for greener pastures, according to San Francisco Chronicle food writer Paolo Lucchesi.

New restaurants continue to open, and "diners continue to pack them," the newspaper reported -- however, "there are not enough people to cook the food."

Cooks make about $27,660 a year, according to the Census; the average salary in San Francisco is $62,680 -- and the median rent? $3,398 a month, or well more than what a cook could hope to take home in a month.

The shortage of cooks in restaurants has gotten to the point where Fifth Floor chef David Bazirgan says it's an "epidemic," the newspaper reported.

Perhaps emblematic, Fifth Floor is closing down in January in favor of a more casual eatery -- which requires fewer cooks, the newspaper reported.
 

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