Top restaurant owners call out govt over immigration plans

by Noted / 02 May, 2017
Sid and Chand Sharawat of Cassia.
The winners of Auckland’s top restaurant award have criticised the government's plans to change immigration rules.

The government has proposed to lift the salary threshold for people applying for a work visa under the skilled migrant category to $50,000 a year - which could have a major effect on the hospitality industry.

On Monday night, Cassia was named Supreme Winner in the Metro Peugeot Restaurant of the Year Awards for the second year running.

The modern Indian bistro is owned by chef Sid Sahrawat and his wife Chand. The couple also own fine-dining restaurant Sidart.

After accepting the award at the ceremony at MOTAT, Chand Saharawat used the opportunity to highlight the difficulties her restaurant would face if the rules on migrant workers changed.

"You love the naan bread, right? The man who's cooking this bread won't be around if immigration [rules change]... I'd rather hire a Kiwi, but you know what, I can't find them."

She called on Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, who was on stage at the awards, to take the message back to the Government that restaurants like theirs needed people with specific skills.

Her husband earlier told RNZ that out of the 40 staff he employed, just four were from New Zealand.

Mr Sahrawat said the pool of local talent was already low as highly trained New Zealand chefs and other hospitality workers were opting to work overseas.

"We just can't find enough people for front of house, or kitchen. It's a constant battle to get people who are driven and passionate about hospitality," he told RNZ's Checkpoint programme.

The government should be making it easier for business owners to hire and keep migrants on staff, Mr Sahrawat said.

Under the proposed changes low-skilled migrants would be made to leave the country after three years and then wait at least a year before they could re-apply.

"It's already hard enough for us to try and renew someone's visa ... and to make it even harder, [the changes are] going to be challenging for any restaurant or cafe owner in the country."

Cassia needed to hire chefs with particular skills and expertise because of the type of cuisine they served.

"It's a very skilled job, especially on the clay ovens. It's a bit like a sushi chef who trains for years and years before he gets really good at what he does. It's the same thing, we need people like that to be coming from India."

The Restaurant Association has raised the hospitality industry's concerns with Immigration New Zealand.

Public consultation on the government's immigration changes closes next month and Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse intended to have them in place later this year.

Follow Noted on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


Sid at the French Café to host a special lunch to support Christchurch victims
103751 2019-03-20 00:00:00Z Auckland Eats

Sid at the French Café to host a special lunch to…

by Metro

A special luncheon will be held to raise money in support of the victims and families affected by the Christchurch mosque shooting.

Read more
Tech giants accused of inciting violence for hosting mosque shooter's livestream
103603 2019-03-19 10:23:15Z Tech

Tech giants accused of inciting violence for hosti…

by Vomle Springford

Facebook, Google and other tech platforms are being condemned for hosting the Christchurch shooter's video.

Read more
'We've failed miserably': Critics condemn spy agencies' surveillance strategy
103607 2019-03-19 00:00:00Z Crime

'We've failed miserably': Critics condemn spy agen…

by Phil Pennington

Former Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy said the response to Muslims over what they see as a growing threat to them was "diabolical".

Read more
Party leaders saying little on gun law reform
103601 2019-03-19 00:00:00Z Politics

Party leaders saying little on gun law reform

by Gia Garrick

Governing parties are giving no clues on how the country's gun laws will change following Friday's terror attack in Christchurch.

Read more
Test of faith: Does New Zealand have anything to fear from radical Islam?
70722 2019-03-19 00:00:00Z Social issues

Test of faith: Does New Zealand have anything to f…

by Joanna Wane

Almost three years ago, the Muslim community in Auckland welcomed me into their world with warmth, trust and open arms.

Read more
Saziah Bashir: 4 things you should do following the Christchurch terror attack
103634 2019-03-19 00:00:00Z Social issues

Saziah Bashir: 4 things you should do following th…

by Saziah Bashir

What can we do? Where to from here? People have to recognise the Muslim community is grieving.

Read more
Christchurch shooting: How the world is reacting to the terror attack
103651 2019-03-19 00:00:00Z World

Christchurch shooting: How the world is reacting t…

by Ryan J Holder

In the wake of the Christchurch terror attack, there is grief, despair, anger and a righteous sense that things need to change.

Read more
Captain Marvel is a rare movie in Marvel Cinematic Universe
103595 2019-03-19 00:00:00Z Movies

Captain Marvel is a rare movie in Marvel Cinematic…

by Russell Baillie

Starring Brie Larson as lead superheroine​, feminist fable Captain Marvel actually gets better as it goes on.

Read more