How much should a line cook be paid?

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by bloodymary, Jun 4, 2017.

  1. bloodymary

    bloodymary

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    I am currently working $12 per hour for a 40 hour week. Do you think this is a fair wage? Should I ask for a raise?

    Servers in my restaurant are making $8 per hour + tips. They are making three times the minimum wage vs. me making just above average wage.

    Thoughts? Comments?
     
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  2. redbeerd cantu

    redbeerd cantu

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    St. Philip's College Culinary Arts (AAS, Cum Laude), International Kitchens
    How long have you worked there? What was your starting wage? What state do you live in?

    RedBeerd
     
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  3. picturesup

    picturesup

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    Where? What City? 

    What kind of restaurant?

    How many stations can you work?

    Besides cook what else do you have to do? Prep? Ordering?

    For me JUST doing line cook work even well, that's your job...It's about going above and beyond. 
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2017
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  4. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Oh jeez.... don't compare your job to a server's, if you want tips, then become a server.

    If you don't think the pay is fair, then why did you accept the job?
     
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  5. someday

    someday

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    We probably need more info. 12 an hour isn't bad, but it is not great either. A lot depends on where you are, what type of restaurant it is, how much experience you have, what station you are working, etc. 

    But I would say that 12 an hour isn't egregiously low or anything. Welcome to the wonderful world of professional cooking!

    Minimum wage is only 7.25, so you make well above that. Unless you live in a state which has higher min wage. But again, you don't say where you live. 

    And I would also add, make your peace with not being paid as much as servers do. I agree that it is one of the biggest negative issues facing our industry...that is, the wage gap between front and back...but it doesn't seem like it will be fixed anytime soon. There are a few pioneering restaurants out there that are trying things to close this gap, but they are few and far between. 

    If you want to make a lot of money, unfortunately, best to find another career. If you want to make ends meet, you'll most likely need 2 jobs or 1 that pays overtime, at least until you get bumped to sous and/or head chef and make a "livable" income. Be prepared to pay your dues. 
     
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  6. bloodymary

    bloodymary

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    Line Cook
    I am in Wisconsin. I work 40 hours, 5 days a week + overtime. Besides cooking full time, I am involved with the day to day operations with prep, cleaning and inventory. My starting wage was $8 per hour.

    I would not want to be a server. I prefer my career. I love what I do for a living. The lead cook and I click. We have a lot of fun in the kitchen and we make our own rules. We communicate without even speaking. We basically can read each others minds. I'm usually ahead of him before he asks, unless some unforeseen complication throws us off our game.

    We do have perks. We can eat whatever we want. Take breaks when needed. We can even drink alcolhol if we wanted to during our shift. I laugh my butt off when he loses his shit and starts throwing french fries at people whenever they piss him off. He is a lovable pain in the ass.

    It is rewarding, despite the long hours, hard work and personal sacrifice. I feel that long term, I have more job security whereas servers come and go. Besides, I don't have the patience to deal with the guests BS needs and demands. Their loud, ear piercing, screamy kids would drive me insane.

    I just wanted to know from my peers if this pay rate is normal for a person like me, a line cook.

    Does $12 hr. seem like a fair pay rate?

    Personally, I think our servers are overpaid trash, but that is only my opinion.
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2017
  7. chefbuba

    chefbuba

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    Minimum wage in my state is $11. Keep at it and you will eventually make more money as you gain more experience.
     
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  8. redbeerd cantu

    redbeerd cantu

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    Minimum wage in Wisconsin is $7.25/hr. You're killing it, as far as unskilled labor goes.

    Grit your teeth, keep your head down, say, "Yes, Chef," and you'll only move up. Not rich, but up.

    Peace

    RedBeerd
     
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  9. capecodchef

    capecodchef

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    Min. Wage in my state is also $11 and will be $12 in 2018.  We start our dish washers at $12 and linecooks can make up to 18. A one bedroom apartment, however, starts at about $1500 per month, so it's all relative.
     
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  10. bloodymary

    bloodymary

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    I work 40 hours a week + overtime. I rent a 2 bedroom house on a lake for $920 and I have a sideline as an Airbnb to help make ends meet.
     
  11. meezenplaz

    meezenplaz

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    All experience, duties, minimum wage, and special skills/schools/training aside, IMO what youre worth, what you should be paid for being there, all reduces down to how valuable, and hard to replace an asset you are for the place youre working for.
    And there are two sides to that equation....how THEY guage that, and how YOU guage it. Ideally, everyone's happy, give and take equally, you work your ass off, their profits and growth reflect a good investment in you, and you feel exhausted but fairly compensated.
    Of course the two viewpoints dont always agree, thats when a sitdown is needed to level the field, or a new job search is in order.
    FWIW....
    Youre in a common cooks predicament--you love what you do, love who you work with, but dont feel youre paid quite enough for it. But if you leave, you could end in a higher paying job you hate.
    Been there done that, as have most chefs and cooks in here I'd fully wager.
     
  12. someday

    someday

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    Just realize that, for the most part, cook's wages suck (and wages in general country wide suck) and it just kind of comes with the territory. It's a pretty big problem industry wide and doesn't seem to be getting any better. 
     
    bloodymary likes this.
  13. peachcreek

    peachcreek

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    "The work is difficult. The hours are long. But at least I get paid almost nothing."

    -my quote about our profession.....
     
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  14. capecodchef

    capecodchef

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    To better understand why cook wages suck,please read the thread on what a restaurant can expect for a net profit margin. When you realize that the average million dollar unit makes 1.8%, or $18,000 profit, you will understand.
     
  15. someday

    someday

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    That's only part of the story though. I know you are an owner (and I 100% respect that and what you do) would have a different perspective than a line cook, but the bottom line is wages suck for cooks across the board. 

    The reason why cook wages suck is a very complicated, multi-faceted issue that can't be whittled down to any one thing...including profit margin. It's even in some ways a societal issue that can't be resolved until we see some major changes in how restaurants charge customers. 

    Anyways, yes the restaurant business is tough, but it is no excuse for paying a sub-livable wage. We can do better. 
     
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  16. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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    I'll add a rant later, but for now...

    To the original poster, you're getting paid fine for a line cook, given location etc as already mentioned. 

    Otherwise, I agree with Someday. It's a complicated issue with multiple factors. And having been a restaurant owner responsible for paying my employees, I hated not being able to pay the cook more but I also listened to too many customers complaining about my high prices for various dishes based nothing more than their perception, not actual food, labor and overhead. At first I just listened but eventually I let them know I costed everything out on the computer, I didn't make them up out of thin air. And this while other places charged as much or more for the same dish. 

    Alright, be back later. 
     
  17. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Well of course the wages suck for cooks, just stop and think how many other restaurants are within walking distance. Too much competition, so the customer is used to throwing their weight around. Combine that with the fact that the cook has no contact with the customer ( what I dont see, I dont know OR care about) and its no wonder why the customer tips the server 15%, and tells the server to pass his/her compliments along to " the chef".

    No, we are our own problem, too much competition.....
     
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  18. bloodymary

    bloodymary

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    Thank you for your responses. Your thoughts and opinions mean a lot to me.

    Tell me what you think about the owners.

    My restaurant charges $18 for five tiger shrimp deep fried in Shore Lunch. They balk at giving the guest anything more than 1/16th of a lemon wedge. I think that is absurd, but its always something with them. "Tear that lettuce in half! Slice the tomato thinner!" Its already so thin I can hardly pick one up without it falling apart.

    "Don't give the customer anything unless they ask! We're not paying you to fill the bins!"I can't stress how important prep is for a busy dinner service. Not having the ingredients we need prepared in advance slows us down during service forces us to have to run harder to make-up for not having that available to us. The wait time for a ticket will increase exponently.

    They just bought the building in December and did a lot of renovations, but neglected the kitchen. They bought new refrigerators and misc. but didn't bother to replace the motor for the fan on the hood/vent. It breaks down a lot. Shuts the entire kitchen down during service.

    We had an issue the other day when the fryer wasn't up to temperature and she wanted me to hold the ticket and keep the family waiting on an order of wings, even though I had the sandwiches and an order of wings grilled on the charbroiler to get the order out for the hungry family waiting for their dinner. "Don't argue with me! This is my kitchen! I want consistency!" She says. She doesn't understand that sometimes you have to make exceptions when the fryers are down. The person who ate the wings ate them down to the bone, they were delicious.

    They make a lot of food that goes to waste. They fancy themselves gourmets and made 24 rotisserie chickens, but only sold six last Sunday. There is so much salt and herb rub on them it could choke a horse. They don't get that these spices also cost money but our advice is not wanted.

    They have fancy smoked meats and the owner insists on frying smoked pork belly on the flat top at 500 degrees and making a hell of a mess for us when we come in to work. It's already cooked. The strips of pork belly only need to have a little golden brown color. It all falls on deaf ears. He cranks up the grill without concern that we can't even brown the buns for the sandwiches at that temperature without burning them and throwing them away. The gas consumed is also a great waste.

    His wife is a control freak and has to be a speed bump in the kitchen trying to help us. She constantly reminds us this is her kitchen and will do as she pleases. She interferes with the line and we just communicate unspoken words to one another, hoping she will go back to the FOH to fuss over them. She's always portioning things in baggies and the worst was putting BBQ sauce in baggies. 

    I keep reminding myself I love my job, but it doesn't get any easier working for people who are so cheap, they squeak. I work hard. I've paid my dues, but there has to be another way to make more money in this business. I think we should be paid more and not have to worry about rent.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2017
  19. chefross

    chefross

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    Hi BloodyMary.........Too bad your last comments were not in your original post.

    What you are going through is not new at all.

    This type of management goes on everywhere.

    Your control freak is totally afraid of losing control, and there's not anything you can do for them as they will never change.

    With all the waste you mention, it would seem like you're getting a good deal with your wage.

    On a similar note, I was reading an article the other day that stated that people who run businesses that can't pay a living wage to their workers are in serious trouble these days. They are being touted as a perfect example of entitlement and should be shut down.

    All I can say is "wow."

    So now businesses are being attacked because they should pay more (think McDonalds and $15.00 per hour wage)

    What ever happened to get a second or third job to pay the bills and make end meet? No that can't happen....we have to make businesses pay out more even though the profit margin is so thin we will lose money paying the help more.  

    What the heck happened?
     
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  20. bloodymary

    bloodymary

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    I also run an Airbnb out of my cottage to help make ends meet. It's not bad considering I'm hardly there on the weekends.

    I also do work a second job for a breakfast type restaurant.

    My point is that the owners are wasteful. They overpay themselves and the wait staff, but then get stingy with us making our jobs a lot harder than it has to be. I feel that since I am doing twice the amount of work for them personally, I should be paid more.

    The control freak wants to do most of the prep herself, but she only does a modest amount (or rather what she feels will be enough) and then leaves the kitchen completely trashed and disorganized. The insert pans, cutlery and tools we'll need are in the dishwashing area piled up. Food all over the floor and work areas. Every day I'll come in and the grill is black with grease and carbon. It's no fun cooking on a filthy flat top grill. So, when I clock in, I have to do a lot of extra prep, cleaning and reorganization before the rush. If this is not done, we will run out of ingredients we need to keep the dinner service running smoothly. When i clock out, that grill is spotless, the dishes are done and the floor is swept and mopped. I try not to leave prep behind because they will just use it and I'll have to cut more anyway.

    When I left Sunday, We had a large sheet pan full of pulled pork. The owners took that home to eat themselves and their family. Yesterday, I did not have enough left to sell for sandwiches and tacos. I also had to cut into the expensive and time consuming shelled tiger shrimp to cover for the lack of enough smaller shrimp we use for the tacos, because they ate all that too. They just started selling flatbread pizza and we ran out of cheese because she neglected to buy enough that I asked for.

    I mention that this kitchen needs to be kept clean and organized and then takes offense and she is pissy with me the rest of the night.