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Why Aren’t Cooks Tipped? Chefs Discuss Wage Inequality In Restaurants

Why Aren???t Cooks Tipped? Chefs Discuss Wage Inequality In Restaurants
Illustration by Shawn Hasto and Braulio Amado

Debate over the minimum wage and income disparity has created growing tension in the restaurant business about how to pay workers—namely, how to handle tips. America’s culture of tipping servers—the standard is now 25 percent in some markets—means that waiters in upscale restaurants are making far more than those in the kitchen who prepare the food, according to a talk at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen.

The tipping system has been the target of some criticism recently, and some restaurants are trying to do away with it. A panel of restaurateurs and cooks featuring Barbara Lynch (of the Barbara Lynch Gruppo), Michael Chiarello (Coqueta, Bottega), Jonathan Waxman (Barbuto), and Danny Meyer (Union Square Hospitality Group) discussed problems with the current tip system at the event.