Home World NewsUnited Kingdom What Chefs Really Think About Tipping, Diners and the Industry

What Chefs Really Think About Tipping, Diners and the Industry

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Hajime Sato: Are they breathing? That’s all it takes for me to hire someone right now.

Tim Hollingsworth (Otium, Los Angeles): At French Laundry I was excelling to the point where I was training people on garde-manger. And they were failing. I pulled Thomas Keller aside and I said: “Chef, first of all, I don’t want to seem like I’m complaining or anything like that. I love what I’m doing. I love the responsibility. But I just want you to know that I’m barely able to keep up.” That was a pivotal moment in my career, actually talking about it.

Jeffery Harris (Nolia, Cincinnati): I try to hear what my sous-chef has to say. I want to know what’s going on. I know you had a rough day. That is new. That makes them feel safe in a place that employs them.

Justin Pioche (Pioche Food Group, Fruitland, N.M.): I’ve been taught by some of the best chefs. First day on the job, they told me, “Don’t ever disrespect my dishwasher. I’ll fire you before I even go and talk to him.”

Diana Dávila (Mi Tocaya, Chicago): I don’t think health insurance should be something as an operator that we need to do. That is such a larger issue that this country should offer. But what am I going to do, not offer it and not care about my employees? So we offer health insurance. We put a line on the check — 3 percent comes from the customer, so that counts as income and we have to pay tax on it. And you know who that’s a win for? The health insurance companies.

David Utterback (Yoshitomo, Omaha): Guests ask me about my children, if they’re going to be cooks and chefs. And I tell them that if my children end up in the restaurant industry, I’ve failed as a parent. This is the hardest way to make a living.

Yun Fuentes (Bolo, Philadelphia): It is a challenge to keep it going when everything is more expensive. But I think it would be silly for me to complain about having to do the job I signed up for. I just have to run faster. I have to make the experience better.

David Utterback: With all of the price increases, we still can’t claw back enough to provide me a retirement. I can’t stand on the line 12 hours a day when I’m 65. I already own a back brace, arm brace, foot brace. I feel like the broken Iron Man, just trying to hold it all together. At my age — I’m 42 — you need to get into management. You need to be off the line. Stop cooking. If you haven’t developed an escape plan, you’re going to be stuck doing this forever.

David Chang: I think we just need to have an honest assessment about the industry as a whole, about how much money you’re actually going to make. I would say that there’s a 90 percent attrition rate out of the industry after five years. If that happened out of any other trade school or any kind of M.B.A., we’d ask: What kind of industry is that?

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