Tipping etiquette for in-home cook?
March 18, 2017 10:29 AM   Subscribe

We have small children and we both work full time so we found someone on our local parents mailing list to come to our house once a week and spend 3 hours cooking to stock the refrigerator with delicious food. She's a mom of a middle schooler and does this work so she can have something to do while he's in school. The food is amazing. She charges only $80 for the three hours and we buy the ingredients. Should we tip her? How much?
posted by santry to Work & Money (24 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
If she's working for herself and not paying anyone else for space/equipment, generally her price is her price. However I would have the same issue you do - she's not charging enough - and so I would either tell her so and just be like "so now we're paying you $115, sorry" or beg her to raise her prices and include us in the new pricing.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:35 AM on March 18 [4 favorites]


I have no basis for this calculation, but if it were me, I would give her $100 every time. I just have no sense for how much to pay an in house cook, but just giving her a $100 bill seems right to me.
posted by AugustWest at 10:37 AM on March 18 [10 favorites]


I believe that the general rule is that you don't tip people who are self-employed. I suppose an occasional gift might be okay though.
posted by Umami Dearest at 10:38 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


I'd consider this a similar arrangement to a housekeeper. In our case, we give the woman who cleans our house an extra week's pay at the holidays but don't tip otherwise (unless we ask for an additional service or the house is particularly messy - in which case we are paying for her additional time).
posted by Sweetie Darling at 10:39 AM on March 18 [11 favorites]


If she's working for herself and not paying anyone else for space/equipment, generally her price is her price.
Yeah, she works for herself and uses our equipment and ingredients.

I don't know whether this makes a difference but she's an Italian immigrant so could there be cultural considerations as well? I wouldn't want to offend her.
posted by santry at 10:47 AM on March 18


I would not tip, but I would say, "Your cooking has been amazing and so helpful! If you're looking for more customers, I'd like to write you a Yelp Review/post on my neighborhood listserve/tell 4 friends about you if that's OK. But I really think you should raise your rates - I would be happy to pay $100 for the same service and I think other people would too."
posted by latkes at 10:48 AM on March 18 [18 favorites]


You can ask her.

I've done this on many occasions. People are usually pretty straightforward.

I've also run into similar issues. I purchase a product on a regular basis. The person charges well below what I value the product at. That's the way these things are supposed to work. If they priced it higher than what I believed it worth, I wouldn't buy. Things is, there's a waiting list for this person's goods. I hate waiting. To me it seems like basic supply/demand. If they are getting so much work they are backlogged, then raise the prices and do less work. So maybe it's the same here? Maybe she's got the time, but not the customers? So maybe flat her name to others until she has no more time, so has to raise her prices?
posted by cjorgensen at 11:00 AM on March 18


I would feel weird about tipping in this situation (aside from a bonus at holidays/her birthday if you know it), but by all means, spread the word about her amazing service and let her know that she is worth more than $80/week. Framing it as "you are worth more" seems better than "you should raise your rates" because the latter can come across as implying that you know more about her business/have more financial sense than she does.
posted by basalganglia at 11:03 AM on March 18


I wouldn't tip normally, but I would occasionally purchase small gifts for her - chocolates, etc - to show that you value her and she is a cherished part of your life. I would Christmas tip her though.
posted by corb at 11:40 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


I would agree you don't time, but you can give her a raise if you want to.
posted by SemiSalt at 11:54 AM on March 18


She has set her price-- presumably she isn't losing money on the deal.
She has no overhead or supply costs so take her at her word that her rate is fair to her.
Sure, tip at holiday time!
posted by calgirl at 12:10 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Oh and 'small gifts' would feel like charity to me....
posted by calgirl at 12:12 PM on March 18


I'm Italian and tipping is very very rare in Italy. She might not be offended, per se, but she certainly won't be expecting it.
posted by lydhre at 12:12 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


A week's extra pay at the holidays. That's what we do with our housecleaner. She set the price, so she thinks it's fair. FWIW, a bit after she first started working for us, she said that it was way too much to do for what she was charging us, so she raised her fee, which was fine by us.
posted by old_growler at 1:02 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


I would give her $100 too. It's a nice round number. Also, where can I find this woman, it sounds like a great deal!
posted by katypickle at 1:05 PM on March 18 [7 favorites]


I'm with everyone who says that you shouldn't tip. But a conversation with her about how her rates seem super low to you, and while it's a fantastic deal she shouldn't feel inhibited about raising them if on reflection she thinks she's undercharging you might make sense.
posted by LizardBreath at 1:18 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


Agreed on not tipping but suggesting that she raise her rates. I would probably also give her an annual bonus/tip equivalent to one extra week/session of her service, as I do other service providers.

So my every-other-week cleaning lady who charges $100 per visit gets an extra $100 at Christmas and a sincere thank you note. I'd do something like that.

Also I would like to hire her please.
posted by gideonfrog at 1:32 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


The woman who comes to clean our house charges below market rate. I don't tip her when she comes but I give a fairly generous holiday gift. Could you give something extra to her as a "gift" every once in a while, maybe around a holiday?
posted by vunder at 1:58 PM on March 18


For those who are interested (and who are in the Boston area), here's her web site: Maria Barletta Home Cooking.
posted by santry at 2:11 PM on March 18 [10 favorites]


We had the exact same situation, she started working for us toward the end of my pregnancy. We thought we would work with her until I returned to work, ended up working with her for about 18mos, almost to the end of her pregnancy, lol! Around 6-8mos in we just said "we're so happy with your service and grateful for your help that now we're going to pay you ($20 more)". Plus I was constantly giving her phone number to friends, only asking that they didn't try to schedule her for the day of the week that I had her scheduled for. I think if you feel like she's underpaid or that you have to tip every time (which can become embarrassing) you should just think about increasing what you're paying her.
posted by vignettist at 2:35 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


There are tips and there are tips.
We have small children and we both work full time so we found someone on our local parents mailing list to come to our house once a week and spend 3 hours cooking to stock the refrigerator with delicious food. She's a mom of a middle schooler and does this work so she can have something to do while he's in school. The food is amazing. She charges only $80 for the three hours and we buy the ingredients. Should we tip her?
sounds like a pretty scalable business plan to me.

In addition to giving a bit of money, you might mention that a lot of people you know would be very interested in availing themselves of a service like hers, and of course you see that one person can only do so much, but if she happened to be aware of a few other similarly accomplished cooks who also often found themselves at loose ends, she could possibly recruit a few to be on call and never have to turn potential customers down flat, and everyone might be the better for it -- and it might even evolve into something larger.

Chances are she couldn't get away with calling it FooBer, and wouldn't want to, but something like FooBear (short for Food Bearer) might resonate enough.
posted by jamjam at 4:45 PM on March 18


We have a handyman who charges us much less than the going rate so we give him gifts, always offer him coffee and food and stuff he likes when he comes over and just in general really make sure to let him know that we appreciate him. I'd start with gifting her a bottle of wine and if she's receptive, doing that once a month.

She may not want/need to expand her business but is just happy helping out a young family.
posted by TheLateGreatAbrahamLincoln at 5:23 PM on March 18


Not from Italy but living in a European country where people just don't charge as much as they would in my home country, where we always try to charge as much as we can get away with! She may be coming from this perspective - maybe in Italy people wouldn't pay more than that, but in the US they will, so let her know. She's probably underselling herself. It can be tricky to know what to charge for a service if you're just starting out as being self-employed. If you feel she should be charging more, you could really say it to her - it would be appreciated. She probably made a shot into the dark with her price. Tell her you would pay more for this service!
posted by cornflakegirl at 6:47 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


We had a similar situation with our housekeepers and I just started paying them $10 more per visit, then $20 more after a year. I basically gave them a raise.
posted by saradarlin at 8:21 PM on March 18


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