WWYD: Winning a Free Dinner, Worrying About the Tip

In this installment of “WWYD,” figuring out whether or not to tip for a service won through a contest:

I won a catered dinner from a specialty food company, and this weekend they are having a chef come to my friend’s apartment (mine’s too small) to cook dishes based on their awesome ingredients for me and 10 friends. Sounds great, right? I’m super excited!

I also used to work in restaurants and catering and wonder if the chef sent over will be tipped out—since I don’t know what this is actually costing, I was thinking of giving a nice bottle of wine? Thoughts? Also, I am underemployed and looking for full-time work so I don’t have lots of actual cash to figuratively throw at him. I should mention how I won this—through a (free) Facebook contest. It can happen! — M.

I’ve never hired a caterer, but I imagine the gratuity is worked out with the caterer in advance before an event and either added to the total bill, or handed in cash in an envelope at the end of the night.

Here’s what I’d do in this situation: I’d call up whomever notified me that I won the prize (or the company offering the service) and ask if tipping is appropriate/necessary. It may turn out to be that the gratuity is already covered and included as a part of the prize. If the answer is vague, or “Yes, a tip would be recommended,” I’d send an email to my friends telling them about the situation, and say that it’d be great if everyone could chip in a little something to thank the chef at the end of the night. If I were one of your friends invited to this, I’d be more than happy to throw in $10 in exchange for what sounds like will be a very fun and delicious multiple-course dinner. And if you’ve worked in restaurants and catering and know that a nice bottle of wine would also make a fine thank you at the end of the night, then I say go for it.

Enjoy the dinner, and do provide us with an update on Monday!


Email me your WWYD experiences to me with “WWYD” in the subject line. See previous installments.



4 Comments / Post A Comment

frenz.lo (#455)

If the chef were your friend coming to do you a favor, a nice bottle of wine would be an appropriate thank you gift. Since they’re a professional doing a professional service, cash is more appropriate, just because you can’t in turn tip say, your utility company with a nice bottle of wine. Wine on top of cash? Excellent, awesome. But cash-no-wine is way better than wine-no-cash. It’s not crazy to ask your friends to throw in on a tip, either.

muggles (#1,525)

I’d call the people running the contest as well–if it’s a really extravagant dinner, it doesn’t seem fair that you’d have to pay a huge tip on something you probably wouldn’t have splurged on yourself to start with? It sounds like that episode of Futurama where this chef invites the gang to a fancy dinner at his restaurant as an apology, but then presents them with the check at the end.

I always loved getting tipped in wine working as a caterer/bartender, BUT that was always on top of my actual cash payment. Actually, my current boss in my office job also “tips” me with bottles of wine sometimes… so maybe it’s just something about me.

Congrats on the winning the contest, that’s super exciting! Definitely tip cash. I highly doubt it is included in the compensation to the chef, and even if it is, it’s a nice/classy thing to do. (And, of course, the tip should be dependent on the service – if he makes you all PB&Js and a bowl of Cookie Crisp, that may not be worth $100 for his efforts.) I like Mike’s advice – gather $10 from the friends who are on the receiving end of your generosity.

MalPal (#1,200)

Five dollars per person will be amount to an excellent tip in my opinion. And I do think tipping for a good service is wise. It just makes people happier, both people performing the service and those receiving it (or is that just me)?

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