Everybody has been out to eat in a restaurant at least once in their lifetime, and I know that you would have tipped at the end of your meal. Depending how you felt the service portion of your meal went, which is often reflected in the percentage you leave for a tip. I have on the very rare occasion left as low as 5% for rude, neglectful servers; on the flip side of that, I’ve been known to tip as much as 50% for outstanding service, exceptional attitude, and high quality of food. Keep in mind, I was a server, I waited tables, tended bar, and was even a shooter girl at one time or another, so when I tip, I tip from the point of view of somebody who has been on both sides of the table.
Even though I worked in the restaurant industry this one thing about the business just dawned on me; maybe it had to do with the fact that I spent a full week with my younger brother, who is a chef in Toronto, I can’t be sure. Whatever the reasoning is I just realized that chefs do not participate in tipping. Meaning, they don’t get any percentage of what we leave on the bill. The bartender, busers, food runners, and servers do, hell in some establishments the managers/front of house even take a cut out of the tips. But not the kitchen staff. Not a single worker inside the kitchen gets tipped out at the end of the night.
I don’t know about you, but this truly makes me go “hmmm.” In fact it makes me think “hmmm” so much that I’m stunned it didn’t happen any earlier than last week.
I mean let’s think about this. Why do you pick a restaurant in the first place? For me, I chose it based on the cuisine it serves. I don’t go for the servers, or the alcohol, or even the location. 10/10 times the reason I’m going out of my way to eat out, is because I want to eat something that they offer, that I either don’t make for myself, or can’t be bothered to shop for, prep, prepare, and then clean up afterward to make. I’ve never, ever, not once have picked a restaurant because of a server, or bartender, or food runner. It is all about the food. The food/menu is created by the chef. The chef staffs his kitchen with the best people to execute the food to the highest quality and standard so that you, the paying customer will have the most incredible experience for money spent. Yet they don’t get rewarded by participating in the tips?
Strange. Odd. Unfair.
Before some of you write me to tell me that chefs are often paid in the six figure salary range, keep in mind you’re talking about “celebrity chefs” and these probably make up like 5% of all chefs out there in the world. Toronto Life, and Toronto Star have done exposes in the past about how on average, given the number of long hours that a chef, and their kitchen staff must put in every day to prepare a restaurant for service, cook the food, and then clean it all up, works out to them all being compensated under minimum wage.
Isn’t that INSANE. Think about it, all your server does is take your order, and bring you the drinks that the bartender only makes for you. The food runners bring it to you, and the busers take it all way. But the kitchen staff, the people doing all the true heavy lifting for your entire dining experience are often being paid less than minimum wage.
We must change this. We must, when we dine out, suggest to the management of the restaurants where we we’re choosing to spend our money that they allow the kitchen staff to participate in the tipping out every evening. Some restaurants in Toronto (although I’ve never been to one, so this sounds like fake news to me), some in New York, and almost every single one I’ve been to in Europe have done away with tipping entirely. Supposedly this allows restaurants to pay their staff fairly across the board. I’m not entirely sure how that works, but I’m going to take their word for it, and until that happens to all restaurants in Toronto, you can bet your ass I will be bringing up tip sharing for the kitchen staff in every establishment I set foot in.
Will you join me???