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Average wage of a Sous

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

I know what i make & i'm in line for a raise. I have a number in my head & the facts to back it up. I'm not too worried about that part. One of two things will happen at that meeting.

 

This is more of a curousity.

 

What do/did you make as a Sous?

Did you have full charge of the kitchen, or partial responsibilities?

What is/was the chain of command?

 

Currently it's the F&B manager, Head Chef, & then Moi.

 

Any info would be greatly appreciated/systematically picked apart by your peers. ;)

 

chef.gif

post #2 of 22

Hey ChefGord,

 

This won't be much help, but it was my experience.

 

When I worked as a line cook, I made what they paid me. When I worked as a sous, I made what they paid me.

When I worked as restaurant waitstaff, I made more than as sous. When I worked as catering waitstaff I made more than as rest. waitstaff. When I worked as a supervisor in a healthcare/hospital setting, I was paid fairly for the work I did. Now I have a new profession and am paid even more fairly. One of these days, I might even get benefitslol.gif.

 

I had facts too, as an educated, experienced, and very underpaid line cook. However, their facts always trumped mine (i.e. take it or leave it). Most line cooks today are still making what I made twenty years ago.

 

What is your goal? Do you want to climb the corporate ladder, open your own restaurant? I think it's more important to know where you're going in this business than how much you can negotiate for you salary.

 

Just my two cents,

 

and I wish you the best of luck at the meeting.

 

post #3 of 22

Some Sous are salaried . On hourly basis line cook could make more. Salary depends on size, type, of place, what state , city, country.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #4 of 22

I would figure in today's economy things should be in this range....

 

Executive Chef:.........$80,000 with 10% of the Ex Chefs making over 100K

 

Executive Sous Chef:....$55,000 to $60,000 with 10% being a bit over $60,000

 

Sous Chef: $45,000 with 10% being at $50,000

 

Line cook:........$13 to $15 with 10% being over $15

 

I think this would be the range of salary for these positions working in Restaurants doing a high volume of covers.

post #5 of 22

 Hey ChefGord,

 

It totally slipped my mind, sorry, but here are some good starting points for salary data:

 

O*Net http://online.onetcenter.org/link/summary/35-1011.00

  --National statistics, but one can select state at the bottom.

 

 

Occupational Outlook Handbook: http://www.bls.gov/oco/

  --Here is a direct link to their entry for Chefs, Head Cooks, and Food Preparation and Serving

     Supervisors  http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos330.htm

 

 

Hope this helps.

post #6 of 22

Catering always pays more then restaurant. Thats why 45 years ago I got into catering business!

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #7 of 22

Been in your position and can understand you.

 

Now I'm an employer and I want you to get inside my head.

 

I hire people to make me money.

If your salary proposal is higher than what I can pay, it's no dice.

If your expectations are within the ranges of my business making money, sure, why not?

If you have and can save me or make me more money, I'd be an idiot not to raise your salary.

 

Look, I'm not a corporate Banker or insurance company, I don't want to get rich, but I want my business to generate enough money to cover all the expenses, pay my self some kind of a salary, and to put some money aside into growing the business.

 

Am I making any sense?

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #8 of 22

Yes foodpup, you are making sense.

 

Like you say:

 

I hire people to make me money.

If your salary proposal is higher than what I can pay, it's no dice.

If your expectations are within the ranges of my business making money, sure, why not?

 

I think we all understand this, but...

 

What ChefGord might not understand, as some young people in the business don’t, is why they aren’t being paid fairly when in fact they ARE saving or making money for their employer and the employer is not raising their salary?

 

post #9 of 22

Well, why don't we ask the O.P. this?

 

If he's on salary and is working 60+ hrs a week and his paycheque works out to minimum or less, then he is being taking advantage of.

 

OTOH if he's on hourly and the place isn't even grossing enough to cover overhead, then he might as well polish up the resume.

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #10 of 22

 LOL...you're funny foodpump....

 

There is no need to ask, really. In general, cooks/chefs (who have had trade schooling and experience) are underpaid compared to their vocational counterparts (mechanics etc.).

 

--If he is on salary and working 40+ hours a week and his paycheck works out to minimum or less, the he is being taken advantage of.

OTOH, if he is hourly (and not making more than $15/hr., and the place isn't even grossing enough to cover overhead, then he is being taken advantage of also.

 

HE/SHE was hired to do a job HE/SHE is doing. It is not up to employee's to secure a business' prosperity.

 

post #11 of 22



 

Quote:

 

HE/SHE was hired to do a job HE/SHE is doing. It is not up to employee's to secure a business' prosperity.

 



 Absolutely.

 

See, if an employee was stealing, it is up to the employer to terminate the employee.

If a waiter/ess was not pushing drinks or desserts, or specials,  and crabbed over tips and not paying off the busboy and bartender, it is in the best interests of the employer to terminate the dude/ette.

 

If the place is not meeting overhead and emplyees are asking for raises, then what? Haul out the ol' safety deposit box from under the mattress and pay them?

 

The O.P is writing from Nanaimo, B.C.  True. it's on the island, but still in "my turf".

All restaurant owners in B.C. have faced a "double whammy" last year, and many are still reeeling. The first is the hated H.S.T. (harmonized sales tax) Which applies to everythig,including restaurant meals.  Restaurant sales have gone down by around 15%.  The second is the lowering of the legal alcohol content. As a result no one is drinking that much as last year, and places outside of city limits are realy feeling the pain.

 

And now?  It's February.  Other than V day, the cruelest month.

 

Cooks get paid crap  because the customer doesn't give a rat's posterior what they earn.  The waiter may get a percentage of the entire dining experience as a tip, but the cook gets a verbal compliment.  It's custom, right?

 

Cook, waiters, bakers, etc. get paid crap because there are no trade benchmarks or standards to set a pay scale to, unlike many other trades. And the hospitality Unions just smile and nod and garnishe paycheques and have no intention of starting to make any benchmarks. 

 

The Hospitality industry is nothing but fierce competition, every house shaving every avaliable dime, with the end result of an almost  75% failure rate in the fist 5 years..  And the customer?  LOVES IT!!!! Big gossip on who's opening,and big gossip on who's closing and big gossip on who's lowering prices in order to get customers in seats.  We want it cheap cheap cheep cheep cheep..

 

Former Chef, eh?  Whate ever made you decide to quit? .

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #12 of 22

HE/SHE was hired to do a job HE/SHE is doing. It is not up to employee's to secure a business' prosperity.

 

Absolutely.

 

See, if an employee was stealing, it is up to the employer to terminate the employee.

 

Right. And if an employee is doing the job they were hired for it is up to the employer to see that the employee is compensated (although this implies a certain business ethic on the part of the employer regardless of the employee’s performance).

 

If a waiter/ess was not pushing drinks or desserts, or specials,  and crabbed over tips and not paying off the busboy and bartender, it is in the best interests of the employer to terminate the dude/ette.

 

Waiter/ess, as you have pointed out, are compensated for what they do differently and for the topic of this thread I don’t feel they have relevance to this discussion specifically. So yeah, I’m ignoring it for now.

 

If the place is not meeting overhead and emplyees are asking for raises, then what? Haul out the ol' safety deposit box from under the mattress and pay them?

 

Yup! That’s one way to handle it (but by no means typical). Typically, a chef/cook is hired to perform a job, with a reasonable deviation in performance, and should still expect (yes, expect) a yearly increase in wage based on “cost of living” increases. For this they shouldn’t even have to ask, and it’s a shame to the industry that most do.

 

The O.P is writing from Nanaimo, B.C.  True. it's on the island, but still in "my turf".

All restaurant owners in B.C. have faced a "double whammy" last year, and many are still reeeling. The first is the hated H.S.T. (harmonized sales tax) Which applies to everythig,including restaurant meals.  Restaurant sales have gone down by around 15%.  The second is the lowering of the legal alcohol content. As a result no one is drinking that much as last year, and places outside of city limits are realy feeling the pain.

 

Maybe ChefGord is fullofhimself and maybe not. Maybe you are fullofyourself and maybe not. And maybe I am.  Point is, whether we are ethically outstanding members of the human race or not, times are tough. I am truly sorry you, myself, and so many others are experiencing these hard economic times that seem to only get worse when the politicians implement taxes and such in the guise of reparation. Who knows, maybe it’ll work in the long run but it certainly sucks to be us now. That said, your turf or not, situations like the HST should not affect in the slightest a chef/cooks expected yearly increase. What it might affect is any other increase, expected or not, they might have received. If I truly wanted my cook/chef to stay, I would say something like:

 

[Hypothetical converstation with someone like ChefGord in light of foodpump’s concerns.]

 

I can barely give you the cost-of-living increase this year. But, if you decide to stay, I will try to make up what you are asking when times are better.

 

[Now, a real-life scenario from LC40's mental archives.]

 

LibraryChef40 once worked in a newly opened fine dining establishment that began to suffer from lean times not unlike many of us are experiencing now. The Chef and crew (LC40 was a linecook) were tight, like brothers (but with a sister too). They loved work and the place and people they worked for. But all that didn’t matter ‘cause people were not coming into or spending much money at the restaurant. The Chef called all the cooks into a meeting one day. He said he would get them jobs outside their restaurant because he had to cut their hours. He did (both). Every single one of them went to work for another place while still working at their primary place. Every single one of them was offered more pay and a full time position at their surrogate places of employment. Every single one them respectfully declined their full time more pay offer. I guess there is a point to this story, I dunno. There are other ways of dealing with things in bad times. Much of it I suppose is situational.

 

And now?  It's February.  Other than V day, the cruelest month.

I feel your pain, hang in there Bro.

 

Cooks get paid crap  because the customer doesn't give a rat's posterior what they earn.  The waiter may get a percentage of the entire dining experience as a tip, but the cook gets a verbal compliment.  It's custom, right?

 

Yes, it is custom. I would like to help change that, but not at the expense of the restaurant owner. Au contraire, mon frère. I think there is a way we all can benefit, will you help me think?

 

Cook, waiters, bakers, etc. get paid crap because there are no trade benchmarks or standards to set a pay scale to, unlike many other trades. And the hospitality Unions just smile and nod and garnishe paycheques and have no intention of starting to make any benchmarks. 

 

I think you’re on to something here. I don’t know that a union is an answer, but chefs/cooks in the U.S. don’t really have one, save for hotels. I have searched ChefTalk extensively for discussions on unions and it seems there are as many opinions for them as against. That I graduated from a top culinary school somewhere in upstate N.Y. and never saw wages for line cooks (and THEY really ARE the restaurant) change in over 20 years is testament enough for me to advocate strict union/contract employment relationships. But all I can do is advocate because I am not really in the profession anymore. And you ask Why?

 

 

The Hospitality industry is nothing but fierce competition, every house shaving every avaliable dime, with the end result of an almost  75% failure rate in the fist 5 years..  And the customer?  LOVES IT!!!! Big gossip on who's opening,and big gossip on who's closing and big gossip on who's lowering prices in order to get customers in seats.  We want it cheap cheap cheep cheep cheep..

Understood. Your brief tirade and stats are relatively correct and I agree. Please don’t get discouraged though, this is the way it has always been, it’s up to us to change it. Not to sound Ghandi-like, but let’s be the change we want to see. Fair enough?

 

Former Chef, eh?  Whate ever made you decide to quit? .

Yes, former chef. Was there a way I could have “penciled in” my response? If so, I would rather it say “Brother.”

post #13 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefedb View Post

Catering always pays more then restaurant. Thats why 45 years ago I got into catering business!


Good call. I currently do catering as a side business. With three young kids, i don't have time to commit to doing it FT. Yet. It's on my short list of goals for the next five years.
 

post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LibraryChef40 View Post

Hey ChefGord,

 

This won't be much help, but it was my experience.

 

When I worked as a line cook, I made what they paid me. When I worked as a sous, I made what they paid me.

When I worked as restaurant waitstaff, I made more than as sous. When I worked as catering waitstaff I made more than as rest. waitstaff. When I worked as a supervisor in a healthcare/hospital setting, I was paid fairly for the work I did. Now I have a new profession and am paid even more fairly. One of these days, I might even get benefitslol.gif.

 

I had facts too, as an educated, experienced, and very underpaid line cook. However, their facts always trumped mine (i.e. take it or leave it). Most line cooks today are still making what I made twenty years ago.

 

What is your goal? Do you want to climb the corporate ladder, open your own restaurant? I think it's more important to know where you're going in this business than how much you can negotiate for you salary.

 

Just my two cents,

 

and I wish you the best of luck at the meeting.

 



I already know where i'm going. That's mapped out & i'm starting more schooling in spring to get to where i need to be.

Just a general curiousity of sous wages was all i was really after. My increase is already in the works. The budget just came back & we're sifting through & figuring out what's going where.

post #15 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChefBillyB View Post

I would figure in today's economy things should be in this range....

 

Executive Chef:.........$80,000 with 10% of the Ex Chefs making over 100K

 

Executive Sous Chef:....$55,000 to $60,000 with 10% being a bit over $60,000

 

Sous Chef: $45,000 with 10% being at $50,000

 

Line cook:........$13 to $15 with 10% being over $15

 

I think this would be the range of salary for these positions working in Restaurants doing a high volume of covers.



PNW...south of the border , right?

With your numbers i'm a little under right now but with the extras i'm right in line.

post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by foodpump View Post

Well, why don't we ask the O.P. this?

 

If he's on salary and is working 60+ hrs a week and his paycheque works out to minimum or less, then he is being taking advantage of.

 

OTOH if he's on hourly and the place isn't even grossing enough to cover overhead, then he might as well polish up the resume.



Well...

-i'm not on salary. That would just be silly. I don't forsee myself ever going on salary. Working 60 hours a week &

doing the math to find out you make less than the DW? No thanks.

-i'm hourly. It's a healthy wage. Not outstanding, but decent. I've also got full medical, dental,

matched RSP contributions, free golf & gym pass.

-also, since it's a golf course primarily it's alot of buffets & banquets during the busy monthes. Honestly, they get repetitive

but i still get to exercise alot of creativity on other onsite & offsite menus.

-i'm in no way complaining about my job. I don't mind it. For where i'm at currently in this industry it's a solid job. I'm training for

my CSNM designation & am going to move into health care management, or possibly HR. Not sure yet. Maybe get a job at a test kitchen

or something. There is opportunity in this industry if one looks for it.

 

What kind of facility are you cheffing at in Vancouver? 

post #17 of 22

Chef Gord.

One good feature about being in this business is that you will never starve. On another point , I have owned 3 places in New York,1 in Florida. From the beginning I sat my key employees down and told them they would all be on a %. The more the place made the more they made. Worked every time. In the beginning I kept salaries low but paid a %. Its amazing how well the place did. They pushed sales and watched waste.I would also have other incentives like  Who ever sold most desserts for the month would win a whatever. I know if it were me in their place I would really go out of my way for the business. One of them told me he felt appreciated and not just like a number.. I had one young guy who after 2  years purchased a new cadillac for himself. I say more power to him. Many restaurant owners  treat their staff like garbage and are overly greedy. I guess I learned from them what not to do.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChefGord View Post



What kind of facility are you cheffing at in Vancouver? 


Cheffing?  Never heard the word used as verb....  Oh well.  I o/o my own chocolate and fine pastry place in Van. From what it sounds like, you have a nice job and some really good benefits.  Very few-if any employers wil make RSP contributions, and even fewer medical and health.  Also, very few Sous I know are on hourly--it is a mngmt position and usually salary.  Doesn't hurt to ask, so ask away.

 

 

Library Chef40

,

Ghandi I'm not.  However I've been in this biz for close to 30 years now and am a hobby-observer of human nature.  My "Tirade"--if you will, is based on casual observation. 

 

 

If you want to change the restaurant scene for the good, the most logical place to implement changes is with benchmarks and standards for the industry.

 

Who to undertake this Herculan task? Gov't? Petitions, banners and chanting slogans? The unions who are garnisheeing paycheques anyway? 

 

 

If you study other trades they have a strongly structured pay scale based on benchmarks and standards.  These benchmarks are worked into the schooling element of their trade and even part of State law (bldg codes, plumbing codes etc.) and the Unions of these trades are involved heavily into the school aspect of things as well.

 

The hospitality industry?  Schools pumping out "Chefs" in 3 mths, in 6 mths, in1 yr, in 3 years, no recognized standards or benchmarks in the industry heck, they can't even agree on a common text book.

 

And then there's the owners.  All you need is a bit of cash to open up a place.  No knowledge of cooking, mngmt, HR, Gov't regulations or common sense required.  Any wonder why so many place fail and drag the whole industry down with them?

 

You won't find much information on Hosp. Unions because there isn't much.  To be fair, they haven't done diddly-squat, and that's about the most positive thing I can say about them.   

 

Apprenticing and working in Europe, I have seen the effort the Federal Gov't puts into the apprenticeship program of all trades and I see the benefits reaped from this effort.  I have seen hosp. unions in Europe set national standards, pay scales, and work cloesly with the trade schools designing curiculum.

 

Here?  We have a mess..

 

Anyway, it's been fun chatting.  I've got customers to educate........ 

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #19 of 22

I don't know if we're behind in CT, but I've rarely heard of a line cook breaking $12/hour here. The Range is really more like $9-12, thanks in no small part to the chains starting to outnumber family restaurants and setting the standards. Hotels and clubs, which traditionally have been the best paying jobs around here, are in serious decline. It's very common for Sous Chefs to be hourly now; my own position used was salaried for decades until they talked my predecessor into going hourly when the economy was tanking, and I inherited all of the responsibility (plus some extra since the exec chef got a pay cut and is bumping a whole lot of his responsibilities down the chain out of spite), but have no benefits and not even a guarantee of a paycheck in the slow season. What I make is definitely more in line with the high end of what people are calling Line Cook pay in here, and I know more than a few other Sous Chefs making similar pay. 

 

post #20 of 22

I moved to NC and found out shortly after that it's in the bottom 5 of pay in the 50 states. Had I known that I wouldn't have moved. Connecticut sounds very similar to the averages here. Absolutely terrible wages. 

I'm not trying to dog on Johnson and Wales, but I've heard that since that school came to Charlotte, wages have been driven way down. I guess having young culinary students are easier on the checkbook, but quality goes right out the window.

 

I would expect to be paid anywhere from 33k to 45k as a sous chef

post #21 of 22

Well, yeah, I'd like to get paid that too.

 

Look, there's Sous working for very nice 60 seat Italian places, Sous working for hotels with 3 F&B outlets, Sous working for hotels with 6 F&B outlets, Sous working in kitchen that pump out $30,000 worth of food a day, and I know of a couple of Sous that work for one of those HUUuuge airline catering places in Singapore where there's 14 Sous and I don't know how many cooks.

 

There's no thing as a "typical" Sous, just as there's no such thing as a typical kitchen or a typical restaurant, or even a typical owner..

 

Rule of thumb is, the more money a kitchen makes, the better it can pay it's staff.

 

But a kitchen is basically "production", and money is made in "sales". 

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #22 of 22

Have to agree with "foodpump"... I was a sous chef at a hotel in my medium size town and making just over 10.00/hr. In the metro area an hour away the sous are salaried and making twice as much. There are too many variable that can go into the job and I find 'standar salary scales' a depressingly hilarious joke... I am currently working on my Personal Chef and Private Event catering in MN and finding it much more satisfying (and less stressful) than high volume restaurant business...

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