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Top Chefs Unhappy With Tipping Culture, Demand Fair Wages for Restaurant Workers

Servers are making much more money from tipping than the staff working in the kitchen.
Cover Image Source: People work at a restaurant at Chelsea Market in Manhattan, New York City | Photo by Spencer Platt | Getty Images
Cover Image Source: People work at a restaurant at Chelsea Market in Manhattan, New York City | Photo by Spencer Platt | Getty Images

In America, stakeholders in the restaurant industry are debating about the tipping culture and how it has changed the dining experience. People are arguing about how the tipping culture has changed over the years and how surviving in the US with such increasing food prices has become difficult. Recently two renowned chefs disclosed how these tips are beneficial just for the restaurant owners and not the actual ones working back in the kitchen. They expressed their disappointment towards the uneven distribution and further mentioned that there is a dire need for changes in how tips are made in American restaurants. 

Staff making mouth-watering dishes in a restaurant kitchen. Image Source: Pexels|Photo by Elle Hughes
Staff making mouth-watering dishes in a restaurant kitchen
| Pexels | Photo by Elle Hughes

David Chang of Momofuku and Eric Huang of Pecking House arguably convey their resentment that they are not happy with the current tipping situation. After the pandemic, people's perspectives towards dining have changed and they have given much more importance to restaurant workers. But this practice is not fair as in most of the tipping scenarios, servers are making much more money than the staff working in the kitchen, say the chefs. The tips happen because of the good food and of course, the service, but the person who is making those wonderful meals often receives less or no additional tip for the service they offer, and it looks wrong. The debate further extends as Americans remain frustrated with the tipping culture and are not open to any more changes in the way they tip.


The chefs assert that there must be a way that is comfortable for diners as well as the workers. Many chefs around the world are talking about the equal distribution of wages i.e. amongst the restaurant servers and the kitchen staff workers. Chang and Huang also mention that they want to make sure everyone working in the restaurants gets paid fairly. For this, they suggested some ways such as increasing the menu prices or adding a service charge, but then they also said that most Americans would not agree to this proposal. And if nothing works, they suggest that the restaurants should launch a no-tipping policy to remove this debate.


Workers' minimum wages are the main concern behind increasing the tips and introducing a mandatory charge on orders. On average, in some states restaurant workers who get tips are paid a low wage of $2.13 per hour and to ensure the survival of their families they rely on post-order tips. Some workers have to struggle to take back home their average salary. Due to the workers' dependency on these tips, their regular income becomes unstable and on some days they have to go home with just the minimum wage of $7.25.

Chefs accept that the hospitality industry is booming and they are ready to adapt to the changes. However, the transition is not yet decided and there is no information on what the new changes will be and whether the workers will get a fair wage structure. The conversation about expecting an equal salary structure is increasing and many want the restaurants to work towards providing equal support to everyone.