The Art of Negotiating.


Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
The thread about no more OT got me thinking about this industry, the benefits chefs recieve, and the number of chefs who feel like they are getting the raw end of the deal. To them I say, ''Learn the art of negotiation''. Too many chefs I know, especially young ones, are offered a compensation package and look at it as the final and only offer. For me this is just the starting point. If I know that I am not going to take their insurance, they I tell them so and ask to split the difference in what they will be saving. Hey, they have still made out. Another one I have learned over the years-do not take a salary less than you want on the word that they pay out bonuses. Can't tell you how many times I have been burned by that one. Get a salary you want, then bonuses become what they should be in the first place-gravy. If you want OT get it in writing that you will get paid an hourly for hours worked over 50 or 60 (good luck getting paid for over 40). When I was at the catering company I made sure that I got paid hourly for every night party I worked. That way I didn't get burned working 50-60 hours in the kitchens prepping and then another 10-30 hours at night working parties without some form of compensation.

In other words, be creative, be firm, and make sure you get what you need, and don't ever think that their terms are not negotiable. They are even if they say they are, they are not! And if they aren't then if they aren't willing to work with you on this (the basis of your relationship) then will they be willing to work with you on anything?

Are chefs undercompensated for their time and effort? Yes, but we don't need to be. Learn how to negotiate and you will find that you are going to get a much better deal. And don't forget-get it in writing!!!!
Joined Aug 11, 2000
From my past experience what you want needs to be stated at the beginning. I've burned myself a few times with thinking a job is temporary and not following through with what I require from others.
IE....When I personal chef, I have a set rate that is paid weekly and if the client is on vacation I will make an effort to work with them on a substitute date but essentially they owe me for the day whether I work or is set aside for them. I work a job not hourly.
So last year when I was consulting on a food show I had to cancel on a new client at the last minute to meet a deadline. ONE TIME< and for me soooo unusual> Since then they have taken off 5 weeks and not paid me for that's easy work for me but I can't keep the space open if they continue this practice. That would have been discussed more at the was an arrangement I had with other clients and did not clarify with them.
Recently I just met with an extremely wealthy client that wants a personal cook. I got the salary I went in wanting but during the trial 2 monthes they are going on vacation for 2 weeks, he insisted that I not recieve salary during that time. We have not signed on the dotted line and I don't expect to until Sept 1.
It'll be interesting.....and I'm not quit sure how I feel about the job.

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