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Pay scale...

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Woulda swore I already posted about this but here goes...

OK, I've been offered a job at a newly opening Italian Restaurant here in the middle of whoop whoop. They're all excited yada yada about teamwork and professionalism and whatnot. OK, that's sounds great and it's only a couple of miles from my place. A good consideration given gas does it pay?

Ummm...$6.15 an hour for an experienced cook? Um...minimum wage? Excuse me?

Heck, YELLOWSTONE paid that and they hired any pimple faced kid regardless of whether or not they knew what side of a knife to hold onto. The difference is that in Yellowstone they also offered really cheap housing and food and health benefits. (and you get to wake up in Yellowstone!)

I KNOW that the job market is really bad here but jeez louize. How on earth do they expect someone to live on that? I mean, cheap help is great for them but not if that cheap help can't afford to live here.

Anyone else run into similar situations? I find that completely insulting personally.

I mean, I FINALLY got a 3 day a week gig/10 hours a day that pays 8 bucks an hour and I could use the extra p/t days...but sheesh!

post #2 of 22
6.15 was what I took my very first job bussing tables for a local chain when I was 16. It was good spending money, but never would I consider it to be a "liveable" income.

Be honest with them. Explain to them that good employees = returning customers, and good employees expect to be compensated above the min. wage. If not, they are going to have a bunch of high-schoolers that really dont care about running a kitchen, customers won't like the food, customers wont return, profits are lost, restaurant closes... etc etc etc.

Unfortunately, thats how this industry is (as well as several others). I have been hearing complaints from former employees of circuit city. I hear they fired alot of high guest-service ranked employees that were also well compensated for that reason, and replaced them with anybody that will do the job for significantly less.
post #3 of 22
Most dish dogs start out at 8.00/hr here. Chic-Fil-A starts out their 15yo. cashiers at 8.00 for gosh sakes. And we have one of the lowest costs of living in the U.S. Talk to them about your experience and see what you can negotiate. Unless it's a corporate resto nothing is set in stone.
post #4 of 22
I honestly need to learn to discuss my pay rate more often when searching for a job. I mean, even with 2 years of school under my belt and going on about 8 months of good experience, I still see people come in who can't cook to save their lives and they make more than, not only me, but other cooks who have been there longer as well.

I guess it's just annoying when you find out you're getting paid complete crap and a dishwasher could make just as much as you do.
post #5 of 22


WOW That is crazy, Move to Canada we have a massive labor shortage, I am still an apprentice and wont work for under $14.
Just another young apprentice eager to develop into the master.
Just another young apprentice eager to develop into the master.
post #6 of 22
wow... i get paid 9 an hour and i'm a prep cook. definately consider other options.
post #7 of 22
I would think you could easily make more money for less time if you set up a part time catering business or try private cheffing - that wage is beyond beyond absurd. and as other posters mentioned either they will not be in business for long because of inferior service and products (or are using frozen turnover food and just need a warm body to manage it) In any case, doesn't sound like a good fit. Even if you did cheap catering - eg BBQ for $15-20 per guest - at the end of the day, you will make a small profit that would be more than the min. wages you get working jobs like this Of course, you have to factor in overhead like insurance, etc but as a personal chef you can do the cooking at the clients home so that eliminates lots of overhead costs and insurance is less too

The only time it might be worth it to work for that sort of money is if the restaurant and chef you are working under give you fabulous experience and notch on your resume. It is quite common for high level famous restaurants to hire experienced but unknown cooks at that sort of low level wage. I hear about this all the time in cities like NY, LA, Chicago - working for some famous named restaurant or chef - and the way to look at that is at least you are getting some pay for the invaluable experience. (paid to learn rather than paying for schooling and experience) But unless you are facing that situation which it doesn't sound like, explain nicely to them what sort of wage you need/want and how you can justify that with your experience and part time status. In other words you are a valuable commodity and can make money for them with your skills and experience and you expect XYZ for that effort. need to make it a win win situation.

also if this is a start up, it may be too early to jump on board. Let them work out the kinks and when they seriously need help they may be willing to come back to you with more money for your experience, depending on how you handle it now.
Chef Tigerwoman

Stop Tofu Abuse...Eat Foie Gras...
Chef Tigerwoman

Stop Tofu Abuse...Eat Foie Gras...
post #8 of 22


Here in Southern Vermont I pay my dishwashers $8.50; prep cooks $10, Salad Person $11, Grill $12, Saute $13, Sous $14, Pastry $20. I wouldn't even bother trying to explain your position to these people. Thats is down right insulting. You are a professional, skilled worker... and even though you and I may not always see eye-to-eye, I still think you should tell them to shove it.
post #9 of 22
you pay the pastry 20$? and the sous only 14$? yeesh. the time it takes for a prep cook to move up the ranks to sous can take half a decade or more. in that time, they only see a 4$ increase?
post #10 of 22


You have to put it into perspective... this is not a hotel kitchen. Being sous-chef here is not being sous-chef at the Ritz, which would take a long time to earn. My sous has been in it for only a few years. He works hard, is good at letting me know things that are wrong, and is quick to help people who need help, but he is not at the point where he could be sous at a major hotel. Seriously, I am not at that level. And yea, he gets $14... let's do the math on that. At 40 hours a week that earns him $29,000 a year. He many times will need to work more than 40 hours a week, and then he gets overtime pay. SO when you think about this, it is a pretty good deal when you take in to consideration that the median income in this area is $21,000. Plus you need to know that I earn $35,000 when means with overtime my sous is making more than I am!

Pastry.. yea $20. But keep in mind, he comes in for 10 hours a week and does mass production. I do all the little things.
post #11 of 22
I have my cook level II now, and working towards my red seal chef certification, and landed a gig with a travel bursary and 17.50 an hour.
If they are not willing to pay you what you are worth, they probably pinch the pennies in other places (I.e. limit one rag for the grill station and saute station to share. That place was a pain. Worked for 8.50)
post #12 of 22
if you think that sucks... I just finished a stage for a very high-profile restaurant ($170 grand tasting menu). Their cooks work 12-14 hour days, 60-75 hours per week... and they are salaried daily to avoid OT, average daily pay is in the $70-$80 range. If you do the math, $80 for 12 hours of work tunes into a little over 6.50/hour, and this is very fine dining.

But again, the experience is priceless...
post #13 of 22
In some states, even salaried employees are owed overtime for over 40 hours of work. There may even be a definition of traditional hourly paid jobs, not appropriate for salary pay.
post #14 of 22
Wow Ras, you are getting screwed. Right now you are working less then Illonois minimum wage! Your employer is pulling the kind of scam that denigrates the industry. Start documenting hours worked and amounts paid if you haven't already.

Here is the forn you'd need to fill out to get your minwage and overtime back.
Illinois DOL Minimum Wage and Overtime Claim Application Form Instructions

Chances are your employer is skimping on payroll taxes too. If this is the case and you report, you could get a whistleblower award from the recovery.

You should also see if your employer has posted all of the wage posters required by the state and the feds.
post #15 of 22
Thanks tincook for your concern, but the restaurant I mentioned is not my employer.

I worked a "stage" for the restaurant, which means I work one day for free and the chef feels me out/decides if he wants to hire me and I feel the place out/decide if I want to work there. The pay might suck, but the experience you get working in this high-profile downtown Chicago restaurant is the real cash-out

I believe the loophole is that the cooks are not hourly employees, they are salaried either by day or by week specifically for the purpose of not having to pay overtime. I am not sure about the legal technicalities of this move, but they seem happy because all of them are doing it more for the experience in a high-profile restaurant, pay is a secondary concern.
post #16 of 22
Dear April,

Do not take this job.

6.50/hr is a pure insult. Personaly, I think they dont need your skills because they are offering you 6.5. If you had any value for them they would of offered you more.

Therefore find another job.
post #17 of 22
Wow, personally, i would hit the roof on an offer under $24 per hour.
"Nothing quite like the feeling of something newl"
"Nothing quite like the feeling of something newl"
post #18 of 22
That's management type money though. Unless there's some weird currency exchange issue going on.
post #19 of 22
wow, not bad pay for an apprentice. do you have any information on culinary schools in canada? or know where i may find some?
post #20 of 22
This is exactly why we have a very limited choice of fine dinning in Green Bay, WI.
No one wants to pay people what they are worth cause they can not charge the prices for the quality of food that hits the table inorder to pay the help.
post #21 of 22
This link may be of help. It is average wages by occupation, by state, etc. Let me know if you need help pulling the correct data out. I'm used to using these stats, so it's no problem.

Wages by Area and Occupation

. .
post #22 of 22


Free - now this was very interesting info- here is a link to the page that had the relevent info- it took a bit of navigating....
Chefs and Head Cooks

But cut and pasted- here is some highlights:

35-1011 Chefs and Head Cooks

Direct the preparation, seasoning, and cooking of salads, soups, fish, meats, vegetables, desserts, or other foods. May plan and price menu items, order supplies, and keep records and accounts. May participate in cooking.

States with the highest concentration of workers in this occupation:
State Employment Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage Percent of State employment Nevada 2,530$21.09$43,8600.201%New Hampshire 1,170$16.59$34,5100.186%Hawaii 1,100$21.25$44,2000.184%Alaska 520$16.75$34,8400.171%Idaho 1,020$11.72$24,3700.163%
Top paying States for this occupation:
State Employment Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage Percent of State employment District of Columbia 850$23.56$49,0100.139%New Jersey 3,210$22.96$47,7600.081%New York 5,460$22.57$46,9400.065%Hawaii 1,100$21.25$44,2000.184%Nevada 2,530$21.09$43,8600.201%

I guess looking at the top paying cities are also the cities with the highest cost of living too... so that would be expected.....
Bon Vive' !
Bon Vive' !
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