ILT eagerly awaiting new chefs

After months of visa woes, the Invercargill Licensing Trust (ILT) has three new chefs joining its ranks and four more due to arrive in the country soon.

To date, three chefs have arrived in the city from South Korea (originally China), Philippines and the Maldives (originally Nepal) under the accredited employer work visa.

There are another five chefs due to arrive, two from India due to land in the country within the week.

ILT chief executive Chris Ramsay said it was really nice to be getting some traction finally after a tough few months for the industry.

The visa processes had been particularly slow and they were waiting with fingers crossed for the extra chefs to arrive, he said.

"We’ve ticked every box we should have from an immigration perspective, but we’re very well aware of the challenges. That particular government department has been getting these applications processed very quickly. We’re doing everything we can to expedite it.

"It’s taken a long time to get to this point. I shudder to think about when we first started this process, particularly the strategy to extend our reach internationally."

Throughout the Covid period, several ILT-owned businesses operated limited hours or fewer days because of staff shortages.

"Our aim now is to get all of those businesses back to seven days trading as quickly as possible. There’s been a number of others that have drifted in and out of shortened hours. But in the main, they’re almost all back to full noise."

The ILT-owned Langlands hotel, which opened in September last year with four new eateries, was a bit of a special case as it had a gradual open with days of trade that suited the level of staff, but the aim was to get its fusion restaurant Meld to five days of trade as soon as possible.

"[The new chefs] will be fantastic not just for getting our businesses open, but also to provide a bit of welcome relief for our existing staff and take the pressure off the everyone a bit."