New immigration laws affect the hospitality industry

There has been much outcry at the UK government’s categorisation of people working in hospitality as “low-skilled” and not eligible for post-Brexit visas. The new proposal outlined by the Home Office includes a “points-based” immigration system. Visa applicants will need to demonstrate the ability to speak English at a certain level, provide proof of a confirmed job offer, and earn more than £25,600.

The level drops to £20,480 if the position is in a “specific shortage role,” but currently this does not include kitchen staff. This means that EU visas will not be handed out for entry-level hospitality jobs such as kitchen porters, waiters, and baristas as well as many jobs in hotels.

Many restaurant critics and restaurant owners have spoken up about the government decision. Asma Khan, founder and head chef of Darjeeling Express, has commented on Instagram: “I want the PM to come serve tables in my restaurant for one day – then we can discuss what level of skills are needed in hospitality.” Restaurant critic Marina O’Loughlin tweeted: “Dear Govt, huge thanks for helping bugger the UK hospitality industry.” Sign Laura Christie and Selin Kiazim’s petition to revoke Priti Patel’s categorisation of “unskilled” hospitality workers.

Social media adds to pressure on restaurants

In this day and age, restaurants are expected to have a presentable Instagram account, with images showing the best side of their menu’s dishes. But posting images on a daily basis means putting time aside to produce them, or paying someone to do so – something which many restaurants with low-profit margins cannot afford. Under the pressure to post, restaurant owners can sometimes cave and use stock photos on social media. It’s a short-term fix but can spell trouble in the long-term when people’s expectations don’t match what they end up getting in the restaurant.

Angie Mar London pop-up

New York chef Angie Mar is coming to London for a one-week pop-up in the City. Her restaurant Beatrice Inn, one of the most popular dining spots in NYC, has seen guests such as Samuel L. Jackson, Emma Stone, and Daniel Craig. She will take residency at D&D London’s New Street Grill for six days in March, and if all goes well, she may even open a permanent restaurant in the future. We’re as excited about it as she is about London.

£149 Gold Pizza at New Soho Da Michele

L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele opened its Soho outpost just last week. Rarely anything has been scrapped from the Baker Street menu, but there are plenty more additions. One of them is a £149 Gold Pizza with shellfish bisque, a shaving of pressed dried caviar, and lobster medallions covered with 24ct gold leaves and royal caviar. Aside from pizza, you can now also enjoy pasta and other mains such as Catalana Lobster.

Satay Street Café launches

Satay Street has been trading at various markets in East London over the past eleven years, including Petticoat Lane Market, Old Street WeWork, and Shoreditch High Street Market. After some complications with the local council, it is finally opening a permanent site later this week. The satay which owner Som Boonchan and her team serve was passed down to her from her mother while growing up in Bangkok. Other items on the menu are inspired by Bangkok’s street food markets.

Nigerian tapas restaurant Chuku’s opens in Tottenham

Billed as London’s first and only Nigerian tapas restaurant, Chuku’s has opened its permanent site in Tottenham. The small-plates menu is focused on sharing, with a range of meat and plant-based dishes. Sibling founders Ifeyinwa and Emeka Frederick have organised pop-ups for Chuku’s at several locations across the capital since 2016. Several of their signature dishes have made it onto the permanent site’s menu, including beef meatballs peppered with suya spice, and plantain waffles topped with blueberries, maple syrup, and dairy-free ice cream. We’ll take a bite of that.