Whenever you eat out, you usually interact with several people – the host or hostess that greets you, the server that comes to your table, the bartender that prepares your beverage, a crew of runners and bussers – and these people become the face of the establishment. Some even achieve their own celebrity status.
But the fact is that you’re only seeing half of the story, and that half actually has an industry term: Front of House.
The other half, the Back of House, is where the real magic in most places actually happens. Think about it: When you take a picture in a restaurant, is it of your server, or your beer? Sometimes maybe, but most of the time, it’s a picture of your food.
Working in the kitchen is (usually) the most physically demanding job in any restaurant. Long hours hustling on your feet amidst hot fire, sharp knives, and the demands of customers who always seem to be in a hurry. It can can often be pretty thankless. You probably remember the names of the servers and/or bartenders at your favorite places, but few people can even name a single line cook.
Fortunately, these hardworking culinary professionals usually don’t mind. They are in the kitchen because that’s where they want to be, and when they are back behind the scenes, doing a job that they love, you can really taste it.
Many (but nowhere near all) of them are still working, as restaurants struggle to get by on carry-out and delivery orders, but they are definitely working fewer hours, and under an increased stress of continuing to be out in public at a time when everyone else is being urged to stay home.
Let’s not forget about them.
The next time you order carry-out, add a tip for the kitchen when you pick up your order. Tip the same 20% that you would if you were dining in (because of course you tip 20%, right?), and ask to have it split between the person who took and packed up your order and the kitchen crew.
And when the world returns to normal, which it eventually will, keep remembering them. Most places will let you tip the kitchen – and some even have the option on their menu (usually in the form of buying the kitchen a round). It’s an easy way to make someone’s day.