Catering companies are crying out for chefs with banqueting experience and who are used to the kind of bulk catering needed in school kitchens. But competition from Macau and the large hotels in Hong Kong means that supply is low. If chefs could be persuaded to leave the hotels, they would find a rewarding career in lunch catering, said Brent Smith, regional manager at Chartwells, a school lunch catering operator. 'Working in a fresh on-site kitchen is attractive for chefs because it means working with children in a great environment. It also means good working hours; they don't work nights, they don't work split shifts, and there's not the politics that you get in hotels,' he said. There are also opportunities for cooks, nutritionists and customer service staff at the lunchbox catering firms. Anthony Leung Tai-chiu, chairman of Happy Holdings, said he was constantly competing against larger companies for staff. 'We are not a big name and so even those that we do manage to recruit, we can't keep,' he said. Mr Leung has upgraded his staff in recent years. Form Seven students were 'too young to be stable', he said, and he had hired university graduates to make up his customer service team instead. But in addition to being more expensive, they were prone to job-hopping. To combat this, Mr Leung gets staff involved in decision making, has regular meetings and tries to keep the job interesting. He also offers a competitive salary, but this is not always enough to prevent staff from leaving. Low skilled part-time staff were also difficult to hire, he said. A recent advertisement yielded little response, and many of those who did, did not turn up for the interview. He offers subsidised travel to people from areas with high unemployment, and so far he has succeeded in employing 30 of the 40 staff needed.