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Endy'

Tipping the Kitchen

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I'm the Chef/owner of a restaurant in Nova Scotia. Our policy is to tip the kitchen (myself excluded as the owner of course). We pool all house tips and waiters and cooks and dishwasher all allocated points in the pool. The waiters get the lions share, but approximately 15% ends up with the cooks and dishwashers.

For 15 years before I became a chef I was a waiter and begrudgingly offered tips to bussers and bartenders. The transition to BOH made me aware that waiters DO breeze in and collect an undue share of tip when it became apparent to me over the years that the food has a good amount to do withe the tip. It also encourages the cooks to do a better job when they may be rewarded with some beer money each night for a job well done.

I Encourage all owners and exec. chefs to make sure that a portion goes to the kitcen


Michael Howell

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I'm the Chef/owner of a restaurant in Nova Scotia. Our policy is to tip the kitchen (myself excluded as the owner of course). We pool all house tips and waiters and cooks and dishwasher all allocated points in the pool. The waiters get the lions share, but approximately 15% ends up with the cooks and dishwashers.

For 15 years before I became a chef I was a waiter and begrudgingly offered tips to bussers and bartenders. The transition to BOH made me aware that waiters DO breeze in and collect an undue share of tip when it became apparent to me over the years that the food has a good amount to do withe the tip. It also encourages the cooks to do a better job when they may be rewarded with some beer money each night for a job well done.

I Encourage all owners and exec. chefs to make sure that a portion goes to the kitcen


Michael Howell

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I cannot speak for North America, but in Europe and throughout the Mediterranean basin, it is not that uncommon for a client to ask permission to enter the kitchen, there to compliment the entire brigade on a meal well prepared, to place a cash tip in the hand of the chef and to know with confidence that that if large tnough the tip will be either split among the staff (chef personally excluded) or used to buy a round of drinks after work that night or before work the next day.

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Why isn't there more outrage or public outcry regarding BOH sub standard living wages?

At the rate some of these kids are getting paid it will take 10 years to pay for culinary school. Forget about the joys of home ownership or even living alone.


-Mike & Andrea

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Mostly because the public doesn't know or care. The chefs they see are are celebrities, and figure for the most part it's a pretty well paid job.

I still get pissed off at servers who come back to the kitchen complaining they only made a few hundred in tips, while I slaved away in a hot kitchen for twice the amount of time and a quarter of the pay. Doesn't really make me feel too sorry for them. Especially since most of our servers suck, and screw up ticket after ticket.

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Why isn't there more outrage or public outcry regarding BOH sub standard living wages? 

At the rate some of these kids are getting paid it will take 10 years to pay for culinary school.  Forget about the joys of home ownership or even living alone.

I totally hear you. This is the sole reason that I don't use my culinary degree to cook in restaurants. (Well, that and the fact that every time I go for an interview for a kitchen job, I'm talked down to like I'm a silly little girl who doesn't know what she's doing.)

And for a lot of people it'll take a lot more than ten years to pay off those loans. While in school, one of my jobs was as an assistant to the director of financial aid, under the federal Work Study program. I got to see all the final "bills," detailing how much people would be paying back. Due to the popularity of "living assitance loans," there were people who graduated from my school owing fifty percent MORE than the actual tution. I have no freaking clue how these people will EVER pay back those loans, based on salaries in the industry.

It blows my mind, really, that in restuarants where meals can cost upwards of $50-$100 per person, the staff that actually COOKS those meals are living with substandard wages. If this profession is going to ever be taken seriously by society at large as a legitimate career, salaries are going to have to change. I don't know if the answer is tip-outs to the BOH staff, or what. I kind of don't think it is - waiters have to tip out enough people already - but something needs to change. I would gladly spend more money on restaurant meals, and eat out less often, if I knew the workers who cooked my food were making a living wage.


-Sounds awfully rich!

-It is! That's why I serve it with ice cream to cut the sweetness!

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Why isn't there more outrage or public outcry regarding BOH sub standard living wages? 

At the rate some of these kids are getting paid it will take 10 years to pay for culinary school.  Forget about the joys of home ownership or even living alone.

For sure! I could not agree more. I mean I'm encouraged just to read that you said it. Chef-boy had two roommates now has one. He's gonna be so screwed if that one leaves & is not replaced.

10 years would be luxury, try 25.

... I don't know if the answer is tip-outs to the BOH staff, or what. I kind of don't think it is - waiters have to tip out enough people already - but something needs to change. I would gladly spend more money on restaurant meals, and eat out less often, if I knew the workers who cooked my food were making a living wage.

It would take a revolution I guess. 10% to the foh 10% to the boh and 10%increase in prices to cover a greater hourly salary for servers. Wonder if that would be enough to cover the increase in wages. I sure haven't crunched any numbers. I'm just thinking out loud. Let's start a movement, call it ten ten ten.

The only way boh hourly folks can get ahead is work ot. Big ot. (overtime)

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Out here in Portland, a lot of restaurants have a mandatory kitchen tip-out. The minimum wage here is almost 8 bucks an hour including restaurant workers, so this is how owners justify paying their cooks less than what they deserve. A lot of the waiters get bitchy about it, but that's life. I've worked in a couple of places, one where the owner insisted that I take a tip share as the Chef (very small place). The other I refused my share, but took a set "gas stipend" out of tips per week so that I could fill my tank to get me to and from work. When I was in Atlantic City, the waiters (union shop, of course) with a little seniority were making 12-14 bucks an hour AND getting huge tips. Not uncommon for senior waiters in the best rooms in town to pull down six figures for a 35 hour work week.

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Wolf chef said it for me - I worked a very high end club where we actually ahd food -not on the menu for the members that flew in- anyways the servers would do eveything but wipe the person down after going to the restroom - but they made a ton and kitchen staff knew why they were working harder or demanding because the name of the memer was right there on top - asking for things not on the menu or perparations that threw us off - my favorite was the formal restaurant had a 6 top that had a 9pm reservation - now this is a club so time is money - so by 930 no people - the club a Matre D calls them - they are at the club hellipad coming in for the airport. They arrive at 945 - but the other 4 are not with them - 10pm now we have 5 chefs on the line and full service staff. The club did not cut staff as the day went due to members - it was FULL service all of the time. SO we are standing around - I had cleaned my reach in counters prepped for the next day as we all did and we were standing around. Maitre D comes in and says they will be back - HE SENT THEM HOME FOR ATTIRE VIOLATION! They were the only ones in the building but us! So 1030 the TWO come back and start wine and we are wiating on the other 4 - they call at 11pm from a midwest airport saying they are snowed in! This was a Florida Club!!! The Sous chef fired two of eerything we broke down and left - the server the next day said he got a 500$ tip! Now was that right. He meaning the server should have giving the ktichen people 5$ or something!

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This is a huge pet peeve of mine as well. I'm the sous chef/pastry chef for a caterer. I usually only work Friday, Saturday and Sunday if we're having a Sunday brunch of Thurs-Saturday if we're prepping for a wedding. The servers tip us a measly 10%. It's based on the hours we work as well. I don't understand the formula and it seems very random to me so I'm going to have to approach the owner about this. I seem to remember the highest amount I was ever paid was maybe 5 bucks for 22 hrs work( over the 3 days). Not too much.

Another time I was at a location( a corporate xmas party). I was there to make sure the trays were filled, etc. There was a bartender there as well, pouring WINE only. She was paid a flat 20$ an hour cash and I recieved nothing but my hourly wage. I felt like I should have been tipped out for that as well.

It just doesnt seem very fair at all.

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What continues to amaze about this topic and others like it is the lack of EG interest and outrage. If fois gras' ticket gets punched at whole foods it generates 50 pages of venomous outrage (a little exagerated but not really :cool: ) on these forums.

Is it really just about the food and for a perfectly cooked morsel at Blue Hill or El Bulli or where ever its hot today we on EG are willing to look past the industry's dirty little secrets?

I don't have any answers as to how to fix it or where even to start but I imagine this collective group is probably one of the better ones to make the attempt.


-Mike & Andrea

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So, here is the problem.

I don't have a knowledge of how the staff divides the money. I don't want to short the servers, but I already tip 20-25% of the total price, and I don't particularly want to up that to 30% or more.

So while I think the income should be more fairly distributed, without knowing how any particular restaurant works, I'm looking at either spending significantly more money myself, or potentially shorting someone.

As I said earlier, my ideal would be restaurants in which staff pay (including the part currently covered by the gratuity) and taxes are all included in the menu price.

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in most businesses, it's not about who really does the work, whether it's building the cars or who's on support 24/7 making sure the computer servers don't go down. it's about the people who deal with the public, and are actually able to talk and sell and liaise with regular people. that's where the value is.

unfortunately so many servers aren't even qualified, but still get 20% of the bill and tip out as little as they want to to the bar backs and bartender, and yeah, not the kitchen.

if you want to make the big bucks, change vocations, and learn to talk to people. is that an option? a lot of kitchen staff i've seen on "eG' and other forums and certainly in "real life", which is probably more of a barometer, seem a little, well, a little wild and hard to deal with. So i'm not sure that kissing ass in a public relations capacity is really what they want, or what they're good at.

can't anyone cook, though? i don't want to sound disparaging here, but Bill Buford seemed somewhat succesful during his stint in a top kitchen. even i've functioned OK in a professional kitchen. if it's an issue of supply and demand, as most things are, what can you expect as a cook? hopefully some wine at the end of the shift.

that said, at BYOB's, which are very popular in NJ where i live, i generally leave any leftover wine and direct the server to give it to the kitchen staff at the end of the night. From my experience, i've found that this is appreciated. and who wouldn't want a glass of wine or two after a 12 hour shift in the kitchen? heck, i wish i could go back and share it with them.


Edited by tommy (log)

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When it's good, everyone wants a piece of the pie. But when it's bad ...

As a veteran server, and currently a w/w trainer, I can tell you servers across America are pissed at the number of nights they go home with next to nothing because management has done or is doing a less than stellar job promoting the restaurant. But servers accept no money shifts as part of the risk. In most job types, the ones taking the risks are the ones with the greatest chance of making big money.

If cooks (not chef/owners since they obviously have a different financial relationship with the restaurant) want to give up their guaranteed weekly paycheck and gamble with the servers on the restaurant's success, then maybe they too will make more.

In addition, servers across America all have stories of times the kitchen has messed up an order (bad timing, wrong food, etc.) and the server's tip suffered. Never once has a server ended his or her story with, "But the cook gave me some money from his pocket to make up for the tip revenue his team's error had lost me."

As to rewarding cooks and chefs, there have been times (admittedly too few) when I have asked the waiter to ask the chef to stop by and when he (and in one case she) came to our table, we applauded. All 4 times I did this, most of the other customers in the restaurant joined in. It seemed to make the chef very pleased.

David Cyrelson

www.greattips.net

The ultimate "how to" manual by servers for servers.

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I think that this thread should join up with the thread on the high cost, and low entry level pay, of culinary schools.

I think that it is wonderful that Americans don't mind tipping 20%, and then an additional, upwards of 8% sales tax, on top of their bill.

The problem that I see is that there is an imbalance of pay in "high end" restaurants, for front & back.

The average diner doesn't understand the sacrifice that goes on behind the green curtain. It takes years to develop the skills to produce quality as would be required of a high dinner check, and the tip that you give to the server, in gratitude for that level of dining experience.

It's not the server's fault, but it's not the cook's fault either. The fault lies in the system.

Obviously, the extremeties are far apart, from tipping on a $10 VS $100 check. The cook at Denny's may do fine VS the server's tips by the end of the day, but in a fine dining arena, things quickly become lopsided.

My views are somewhat jaded, but if you consider what it costs to staff a dining room with $2.36 an Hr. servers, and $8 per Hr. bartender(s), its not that difficult to financially manage a labor budget.

In the kitchen, on the other hand, and I'm not talking about corporate chains, there is alot of time consuming labor going on, bothed skilled and less skilled, that in order to give the diner that experience, that food must be ordered, recieved, prepped, executed, dishes, utensils, and equipment washed & maintained, and properly cleaned & maintained on a daily basis.

And as one poster earlier pointed out, Yeah, 80% of the time, its the kitchen's fault. Okay then, lets take into consideration what that server had to risk, or sacrifice, in order to recieve the 20% gratuity of their sales. I'm here to tell you, any restaurant owner would love to net 20% on their business, without any financial sacrifice.

I am not saying that 20% is too much, I just think that it shouldn't be distributed in the way that it is. All employees of that restaurant should recieve pay that is representative of their productivity.In all fairness, I don't believe that the system supports this ethically.

Servers in the US, for the most part, find it a good way to earn great pay, on their way to another profession. The Chefs and cooks in the kitchen have made their career choice, and are making every sacrifice on a daily basis to be successful in "THIS" profession.

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My "baseline" tip is 20% although, personally I would prefer if, per convention, I could tip the back and the front of house separately. 

Why?

1.  Sometimes there is that much disparity between the food quality and the service quality.

2.  From what I understand (I'm not in the biz), the BOH gets screwed under most schemes.

3.  As Busboy says in post #13, to get to the $100+/head resto, the server has "graduated" and, presumably, offers more knowledge and better service.  Still, when I'm paying that much, for the most part, I'm paying for the skill of the chef.  As long as the server brings the food reasonably on cue, it is still mostly about the chef.  I would rather express my appreciation for the chef than the server.

Yes, I could insist on getting the resto manager and tipping the BOH and FOH staff separately.

Thoughts on this?

you would be seen as a becon of light in the world of flight as far as chefs/cooks are concerned. very few, if any, cooks ever see tips and cutrsies of appreciation from patrons...

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I think the notion that servers are all getting rich while the wage slaves in the back suffer for pennies. This is likely more true at the relative handful of high end places in the world, but for the majority of servers who toiled in the trenches -- and my son, now working at a decent local mid-scale place, confirms this -- there are a lot of slow nights and crappy days. It's pretty easy to walk out of a lunch shift with $15 dollars in your pocket and a dinner shift with barely $25.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Busboy,

I see your point. Thank you for sharing your opinion with me. But, for some strange reason, I feel like a dog that just had its chain yanked on really hard.

I think the notion that servers are all getting rich while the wage slaves in the back suffer for pennies.  This is likely more true at the relative handful of high end places in the world, but for the majority of servers who toiled in the trenches -- and my son, now working at a decent local mid-scale place, confirms this -- there are a lot of slow nights and crappy days.  It's pretty easy to walk out of a lunch shift with $15 dollars in your pocket and a dinner shift with barely $25.

"I spent a few years working as a waiter and perhaps you Canadians are a little closer to the old Enlish class system than we Yanks , but I never encountered a superior attitude towards the kitchen. We hated owners, managers, investors, poor tippers, women who pulled out calculators to split their checks and people who came in late and ordered dessert, but the kitchen staff never came up.

As for wages, I never once met a waiter who gave a shit what anyone else was making, unless it came out of their pocket. The argument over who "deserves" what is endless and pointless. Should waiters make more than line cooks? Should football players make more than teachers? Should CEOs make more than PM's? As long as people are willing to work in the kitchen for what owners are offering, that's what they're going to get paid."

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I was just thinking about this tonight. Well here's what happened, somebody slipped one of my servers a twenty for the kitch, she gave it to us on the line, well she gave it to my partner on the line anyway. He is a lowly line cook like myself and I consider him a friend, anyway he pockets it and I hear nothing more about it. Flip forward two months, we are still friends, we are still in the same positions, but I remember what happened all of a sudden, out of the blue, I remember that night, I remember what happened. I remember wanting to ask the waitress what that twenty was for. I remember wanting to ask when I was going to get my ten, but time has passed. From his standpoint he's sitting pretty, from mine he's looking shitty. Just asking you all here, where do I stand now, what should I do, nothing, something, what?

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I worked as a bar cook for a while and the cooks got tipped 10% of food sales from the shifts I worked. This came out of the waitstaff's tips. (Tips were pooled.) There were some of the waitstaff who would hand me my tips and say something like "You're getting almost as much as we are tonight" on their slower nights. But a lot of their slower nights were BUSY for me. And they were very demanding of us cooks... "Add extra cheese on this. He's a regular. " "I know it's not on the menu, but he comes in every week..." "I know they're not ACTUALLY paying the split price, but would you split it anyway?" (We would let them split - for a small extra fee - but then they'd get larger sides than if they just shared. If they just shared, we'd give them an extra plate.) "I know that you're in the middle of closing down the kitchen, but would you make something for the baseball team that just walked in? They always tip really nicely, so we want to keep them happy." Say that to me and then complain about the tips you have to give me? ("Please, work your little tail off so I can make more money" essentially.) You knew when you were hired that tipping out the cook was part of the deal. If you can't handle that, work someplace else. When I was hired, I was told "You get 10% of food sales." And I wouldn't have worked there for just the hourly alone.

And the reason for 10%? Years ago, the waitstaff was supposed to tip out the cooks - who earned less hourly than the bartender/waiters/waitresses, I might add - but would not give the cook much at all. One day, the cook had done over $1500 in food (by herself, remember - and we're talking $5 to $7 dinners), and the waitresses came back and handed her less than five dollars. "We're sorry we can't afford to give you more." So, she split it up amongst the three waitstaff onshift (two waitresses, one bartender), put it in envelopes, and stapled it to their timesheets with notes saying that if they couldn't afford to give her even two dollars a piece, they were in even worse position than she and her four kids were, so they could have the money back. Blowup ensues, and the owner lays down the edict of ten percent.


Misa

Sweet Misa

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At the restaurant I cook in, the front of the house does not share tips with the cooks. The dishwashers do get a share of the tips. None of the line cooks get too worked up about not getting a share of the servers tips. Yes, it does suck when the servers make enough money in one night to pay rent and you made a quarter of that in a 12 hour day. But we (cooks) chose to be in the kitchen. I wouldn't trade places with a server regardless of the tips. I enjoy being in the kitchen. Its my choice.

Good servers deserve the money they earn. They know how to do their job well, and it makes our lives in the kitchen easier. Bad servers are another story, but fortunately they usually get 86'd pretty quickly. Or at the very least they don't get tipped well. When business is slow we know the servers aren't making money. When business is good, its common for the servers to buy the cooks drinks after work and that's enough to keep us happy.


How say you to a fat tripe finely broil'd? -W. Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew, IV, 3:

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I was just thinking about this tonight.  Well here's what happened, somebody slipped one of my servers a twenty for the kitch, she gave it to us on the line, well she gave it to my partner on the line anyway.  He is a lowly line cook like myself and I consider him a friend, anyway he pockets it and I hear nothing more about it.  Flip forward two months, we are still friends, we are still in the same positions, but I remember what happened all of a sudden, out of the blue, I remember that night, I remember what happened.  I remember wanting to ask the waitress what that twenty was for.  I remember wanting to ask when I was going to get my ten, but time has passed.  From his standpoint he's sitting pretty, from mine he's looking shitty.  Just asking you all here, where do I stand now, what should I do, nothing, something, what?

I don't see a problem with you gently getting at the facts and possibly your ten bucks. If I had sent that to 'the cooks' I'd be pissed if it wasn't divided properly. You need to check your understanding of what happened in a non-threatening way. Like ask the waittress first. Then ask him when she's within earshot. Maybe something like that. There's no statute of limitations on playing fair. But understand the chances of him coughing up are slim. I think it is important for you to at least make your point.

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I've always wanted to tip the kitchen staff but have no idea of how much I should tip. Assuming that the tip would be split between the entire kitchen crew, each person would end up getting about $5 - $10 - kinda measly, isn't it?


Edited by MightyD (log)

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I just wanted to add a story that I personally witnessed the other night. Emerils Tchoup Chop - Orlando Fl. Very busy 370+ cover night. The Kitchen staff got our asses handed to us on a platter, without a doubt one of hardest nights Ive come across as we were only expected to do 130 covers. We had only prepped for 180. Anyways, at the end of the night, our Chef compliments us on our work for being able to keep alive. Later that night im told "A Busser tonight made 420$"?!~?!?!Wait WTF!? That cant be true, Im thinking. Sure enough, I ask the busser himself. "Yeah man, we had a 14 top come in and buy a lot of drinks, and food, and bottles of wine. Their bill was like 1400$, and they left us a 800$ tip. Thats on top of the 18% gradtuity...Bill the server made over 1400$ tonight" Im thinking WTF?! I slave and bust my ass in the kitchen making terrific food, and I get NO appreciation?! The kitchen as a whole was pissed off, the Chef was pissed as well. Bill the server bought his FoH people drinks, as BoH watched them drink from the open food bar area and loathe every second of it as we mopped and squeegied the floors...

Its just not fair.


Edited by 317indy (log)

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