Well, once again, perhaps the headline overstates the situation, but it got your attention. I am writing about the fact that Monaco’s restaurants have a huge problem with staffing.

The shortage of waiters, waitresses, chefs, sous-chefs and bottle washers is acute this summer. This has an impact on diners, who have to wait longer, and also increases pressure on the skeleton teams that have to somehow cope. And it comes at a considerable human cost.

Although the term ’skeleton team’ suggests that things go an almost as normal but with no fat on the body. It’s worse. Much worse. Sometimes there is no chef, and the pastry cook must do her best to keep the meals appearing through the kitchen’s swing doors.

On occasions the overwrought head chef washes the dishes. Stress levels are through the roof. And it’s very hot.

In a recent incident on Port Hercule the chef cut his hand so seriously that an ambulance was called to take him to CHPG. In another case, a chef du rang (waitress) cut herself badly while looking for something in an overflowing sink. Her supervisor told her “it’s nothing, you can keep on working.” A diner, a doctor, asked to take a look and told her to go to emergency without delay or otherwise she would lose the feeling in her hand.

On the next day she called her superior from hospital to say she was about to have an operation and would not be coming in. Sorry.

“But you must come to work, there is a family celebration and I have to be there,” he said. She was off work for three weeks while her hand healed.

The principle is to keep the diners happy, at whatever the cost.

There are ways to deal with this scenario, of course. One is to not close restaurants at the drop of a hat in the name of health measures, so staff keep their jobs. That remedy is the responsibility of the high authorities and therefore there’s not much we can do.

A second is to pay more. Restaurants need to forget the sliding scale of low wages for this that and the other grade of worker and just pay more. Five percent on the price off a 50-euro meal would hardly be noticed by well-heeled clients, but if channeled to the restaurant workers would make all the difference.

The third remedy is open to us all. In this age of payment by debit card we should carry a few notes and leave a tip. There is always the option of not tipping when service is bad, but in most cases in my experience the service we receive in Monaco bars and restaurants is deserving of at least a little recognition. Perhaps a little more eye contact and ‘thank yous’ would make restaurant work more attractive. A human touch.

A 10 or 20-euro note at the end of a meal will also go a long way to complete the evening, and in the bigger scheme of things will help keep restaurants open, and kitchens bloodless.

Any views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the publishers. Monte-Carlo Diary is published in the interests of editorial diversity.


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