Equality of Pay Between Front and Back of House

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I read a lot of articles online about chefs, restaurants, being married to a chef, etc.  If they’re any good, I share them or pin them.  Today I came across one that just keeps popping back in my mind.

The article was titled, “Why You Should Start Tipping Chefs.”

I know that in some restaurants, chefs and line cooks get a portion of the tips each day.  My husband has never worked in a restaurant that has done that.  He has always been paid an hourly rate or salary.

What frustrates me, is the inequality of pay between a server and a line cook.  (Neither of which apply to my husband so this post is not about me saying I think my husband deserves more money.  Just clearing that up.)

It takes a very different skill set to be a server as it does to be a line cook.  I will not get into a debate about which is harder as I think different people are good at different things.  However, when a server walks out of the restaurant after working 6 hours making more money than my well paid Executive Chef husband who is on hour number 15 that day and still not ready to leave, does that seem right?  

Does that even seem logical to ANYONE?? 

equality of pay

I’ll admit I have never worked in a restaurant and only know what I do based on what my chef/husband and I talk about.  But it doesn’t take a genius to see that something’s not right.

Is it fair?  No.  But life isn’t fair, I know.  But think about the conditions of the kitchen compared to the conditions in the main dining room, the physical work that goes into working on the line on a busy night, really??  It’s pretty ridiculous if you think about it.

I’m not bashing servers or saying they are less important or should make less money.  No matter how great the food is, if the service stinks, people are not going to come back.  However, you could also have amazing service but horrible food and people will not return.  Both need to be done well.

The best server we have EVER had (in my opinion), was named Adrian.  He works on board the Rhapsody of the Seas and was one of our servers in the main dining room on our Royal Caribbean cruise this summer.  I told my chef/husband he should have tried to recruit him for the restaurant.  He was so amazing!  He knew everything about every menu item, was great with the kids, used proper serving etiquette, would never think of allowing crumbs to be left on the table (and with our 3 kids, that was a big task), etc.  He was just REALLY good at his job.  Put him in the pantry station in the kitchen and I would guess he would need some work.  Same thing if you grabbed the cook from the pantry and sent him out onto the floor to be a server.  They are both trained to do their job and to do it well.  They work as a team to make the dining experience enjoyable for the guest. 

So if they are truly working together to make the guest’s dining experience the best it can possibly be, why should the server walk out with $400 on a great night in December and the line cook walk out with $96 (before taxes)?  I have no idea, but would love it if someone could explain this me.

Whether tipping the back of house is the answer, I don’t know. But the article did at least get me thinking (and frustrated)!

Thoughts?  I’d love to hear them in the comments below!

From one chef wife to another,




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  1. Liam

    Well I work as a commis chef. And I honestly can say that I have worked in places where the tips have been shared ( I dont know if they are equally shared, but shared none the less).

    I think this is fair that waiters take home more money. To a degree of course, if they are raking in hundreds of $ a night then that should be shared with the whole team. But if they make say $50 a night I would say thats OK. Because as a chef (This is looking at it from a single mans point of view) I dont have to worry about food. Because more often than not at the end of shift there is usually some kind of food that is left over that the chefs are more than welcome to eat it or it will just be dumped. Or the chef will make sure his team gets to eat a proper meal before service begins. As we have been in the kitchen all day already. As a result of this I find I dont spend as much on food. In fact I know people who work in the kitchen who spend less than $10 a week on food.

    So in this way I feel that this kind of levels things. But still if for instance I used to work in a large hotel. Where we served at least 300 people a night and could easily make thousands of bucks in tips as well as the actual money paid. It all got collected and shared with the whole food and beverage people that includes the chefs and waiters. (Although I suspect not all the tips made their way into the tip jar) So to some it up, I think its fair as long as the waiters are not raking the money in and making way more than the chefs do.

    • Jennifer

      At the time I wrote this my husband worked at a large fine dining restaurant where the servers made A LOT in tips each night. It’s that type of restaurant where I feel it is totally unbalanced. In other places, like you mentioned it’s more equal. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!


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