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I am hosting a dinner party for 55 people and have hired a Chef as well as the rest of the help. It is on a Thursday night and most people are working 3PM until the end of the party which will be probably at about 11.

I plan to tip each helper $20. I am not sure what to tip the Chef. Is $100 just right or is that too extreme either way? The Chef is taking additional time to do some shopping for things he won't order from a vendor. He happens to be fabulous and his workmanship, let alone his food, show it. It will be 8 pass around hors d'oeuvres, then buffet dinner. The desserts will be from a bakery and it is being brought in.

Please let me know your thoughts.
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Is the Chef the owner of the business that you have hired? If so, does this change whether you should tip?

I face this dilemma with other businesses. If my barber owns the barbershop that I go to, should I tip him? If the guy who washes my car runs his own car-washing business, should I tip him as well? I do. But I often wonder if I should; since they can set the price, and take the profits, why should I tip them?
Here's what I would do. Your mileage may vary.

I would figure what the food cost were and add 30% to divide amongst the staff. Your thinking is ok until I realize its 55 people they are serving. $20 may be a good tip if you had 8 people on your back deck though. How many staff are we speaking of? 4 seems about the minimal not counting the chef.

The $100 for the chef is good, if hes an owner/chef it may not be necessary though since he is making money on the job itself.

but then again, what the hell do I know.

I do know that they surely make more than $2.50 an hour though......

T, you've been served!!! HAH! Smile
Originally posted by irwin:
sounds light for the tips to the helpers. $20 for 8 hrs? I assume they are being paid as well, and I suppose it depends on what they are being paid.

Agreed. $100 - $200 to the chef seems pretty fair. But I would probably tip the servers quite a bit more; and I wouldn't necessarily be afraid to ask the catering company for a general guideline as to what is appropriate with the servers, either. I mean, if they are getting paid $25+/hour -- which I know some special event servers in NorCal are paid, that is a very different situation than if they are getting $10 and relying on tips.
HI everybody. I am thankful about all of the attention my question received. The chef is not the owner. I will also give him some wine.

As per the servers, I am informed they are being paid $16 per hour and the ratio 1 server per 8 guests. It is butler pass around hors d'oeuvres, then a buffet dinner.

I hope this helps the direction of what the anser to my servers' tips should be.
15% X $16.00 X 8 hours = $19.20. Bump it to 20% and it's $25.60.

Be a sport and give them $25 each.

As for the chef, if he's the owner, the standard rule is no tip -- supposedly some owners feel insulted by tipping since that's reserved for the common folk and he is presumably making the profit he thought justified when he accepted the gig.
BTW, are you sure the wait staff is being PAID $16.00 per hour (seems pretty high), or is the caterer simply CHARGING you $16.00 per hour for each server, then keeping a slice of that pie due to his administrative overhead, liability for injury and damage, and any other justification his accountant/lawyer can think of?

That's not uncommon in any business.
Sounds like from the quality of service you are expecting, that's very cheap. I'd go with what Ratso is suggesting.

Btw, when the owner of a restaurant I managed would occasionally fill in as a server, he would simply pass along his tips.

Another thought: They may have their own policy on splitting tips, so it may be better to give one tip and let them split it up fairly. Ask. (What about kitchen staff, for example?)
I once read that if you want to know what a person is really like, watch how they treat the wait staff at a restaurant.

This was advice that was particularly useful for dating. Your date may be the sweetest/most polite person to you, but if they are treating the waiter/waitress poorly, that will be how they'll treat you one day.
Originally posted by Rothko:
I once read that if you want to know what a person is really like, watch how they treat the wait staff at a restaurant.

This was advice that was particularly useful for dating. Your date may be the sweetest/most polite person to you, but if they are treating the waiter/waitress poorly, that will be how they'll treat you one day.

Big Grin... Skoshy, does anyone in one of our wine groups come to mind? Red Face
Funny, as we discussed this a little bit at dinner last night at the MD Offline at Lentini's. How people handle waitstaff, children and animals can be an incredible insight into their "real" personalities.

It always amazes me when people actually belittle or are insulting to their wives, partners SOs in public. Just incredible...

Definitely so true when customers have superiority complexes that they take it out on waitstaff. Someone I knew owned a restaurant and was the chef. One evening a table of 6 came in and acted abusively to all of the staff and then complained about the food. The Chef owner then came out and told him he how he heard about their treatment. He then told them he is picking up the dinner check but that they must leave immediately or else he would call the police. He also told them to never come back and to give hell to a competitor instead. He said it was the best $600 he ever lost.
Originally posted by John in NYC:
I found out from the caterer that each server's take home pay comes out to about $125 a night. (Not sure what the Gross pay is). Now with that info, how is $20 per server as a tip?

Very low. If you're going to micro-manage the tipping, you should be figuring 20% of their gross sales, not their gross pay or net pay.

My suggestion is simply leaving a single 20% tip, and let them divide it according to their policy, and stop worrying about it. Ask first, but that should at least give you what the tips total should be.
I have always over tipped wait staff and still do. I suppose it stems from my college days as a busboy/waiter at a Kosher restaurant in Atlantic City where the adults would send the kids down for breakfast (on the American Plan-all meals included), and many of the wretched brats wanted grapefruit sectioned. Do you know how tough serving breakfast at 9:00 am afte you just got in from a night out on the town at 5:00 am? They often left no tip at all, but hell, we were making $1.25/hr. The saving grace were the women we met at the shore during the summer and the fact that the bars were not strict on IDs to prove your age was over 21, and the women had only 1 or 2 things on their mind. I leave that to you to decide what those 2 things were. Of coures we had only 1 thing on ours.
I would think service should be great considering there are six or seven servers for 55 people. Everything is pre set and ready to go and it's buffet. $125 net for an eight hour shift is not much for a server. I would think if it was a caterer they would have it all figured out with 18% gratuity split evenly plus their hourly wage between the servers from the total bill minus sales tax. And If all goes well you could add a little more gratuity for all those involved. For an event like this I wouldn't think you would need one server for eight people. Four servers would be plenty for 55 people and they would make twice as much gratuity.
Originally posted by benchland:
Is gratuity included in the charge? If it is, $20/server is a great tip.
Excellent point.

I'm a good tipper, usually 20% in restaurants, cabs, etc. But I hate it when room service brings me my food and hands me the charge to sign, which includes a $3 or $4 delivery charge plus an 18% gratuity, but the tip line and total on the charge slip are left blank. The idea, obviously, is either to trick the uninitiated into double tipping, or to embarrass the patron into doing so.

Same with large tables, where a 20% tip, sometimes more, is properly itemized on the bill but not shown separately on the charge slip, which has a blank tip line and no total. Many patrons, especially those who are a bit tipsy, end up unwittingly tipping 40% or more.

End of rant.

Ask if a gratuity is included in the total you're being charged, and if so, how much, and does it all go to the staff?

Frankly, I'd be surprised to learn that a caterer did not include a mandatory gratuity in the bill -- it's just good business.

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