By: Lee Breslouer
Tipping your server or a bartender is one of those things you must do when you go out (though not everyone agrees we should), along with mindlessly checking your phone for new texts even though you didn't even feel it vibrate. And yet, no one tips the chef when they go out. It's not an option.
We're here to propose a radical idea: that it's about time we tip the people who help put our meals together. And not just the chefs: everyone in the back of the house.
Who needs to be tipped
We do not think executive chefs or sous chefs need to be tipped. Those positions are generally well compensated, and many of them already have bonuses built into their compensation package. We're talking about tipping the people in the kitchen who make $10-$12 an hour. The line cook prepping the mise en place, the prep cook washing the kale, and the dishwasher doing the dishes. Like an old man in a retirement home, plates don't wash themselves.
To get the back of the house's opinion, we spoke to four chefs who told us what they thought about being tipped. They answered anonymously because what they had to say will not make their server friends happy.
So why should we tip chefs? Three simple reasons.
Your dining experience would improve
Giving everyone in the back of the house a bonus in the form of a tip would motivate the kitchen crew to work in concert with servers, and together they would perform a beautiful dance, like that show on TV where everybody dances. A chef de cuisine cited a restaurant in Hawaii that did tip chefs, and he noted that the cooks "cared a bit more because they were more involved. They're depending on that [extra] money". An exec chef said that chefs are sometimes frustrated that no matter how good the restaurant they work at is, that their compensation isn't going to change.
Having a common goal in mind would shift a chef's mindset from, "your food will be ready when it's ready" to giving them pride in their efficiency. A more efficient kitchen means faster meals, happier customers, which could translate into higher tips for servers. Everyone wins.
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