Top British restaurants keen to keep quality staff are resorting to the kind of "golden handcuffs" more often given to traders and brokers working in London's financial markets.

Bigwigs in London's financial center have long commanded huge salaries and bonuses for their services while the catering industry is more commonly associated with low pay rates.But hospitality industry magazine Caterer & Hotelkeeper said on Thursday that chefs and senior managers are now enjoying similar treatment, receiving cash bonuses, pay raises or shares in the business in return for fixed-term contracts.

"Our (bonus) incentive can grow by up to 3,000 pounds ($5,000) in a year, which means I retain staff and the standards and consistency of service improve," Andrew Morris, general manager of Simply Heath-cotes in Manchester, told the magazine.

Britain's television channels are crammed with cooking programs, making stars of chefs as they try to make cordon-bleu cooks out of people who don't know a saucepan from a frying pan.

And no newspaper is complete without a restaurant review as eating out has taken off like never before.

But for economists, the bonus culture is bad news. The Bank of England stunned the nation last month by raising interest rates out of the blue, laying the blame at soaring private-sector pay levels.