Caterer Tipping

by Rachelle Von Anders on April 8, 2010

in Tipping

tipping caterer etiquette

Catering is very hard work! First, there are cooking classes to learn your craft and then taste testings with potential clients before you even book the job. Then there is: the preparation of the menu; shopping for the ingredients; preparing the food; loading the food into a delivery van; delivering the food; setting everything up; serving the food; and, finally, cleaning everything up and putting it all away. If anyone deserves a tip, a caterer definitely does! Caterer tipping is completely expected. So much so that most catering companies include a 15-18% “service charge” in their contracts. To put it simply, that is the tip! It is divided up amongst the workers who contributed to your event.

Now, if you have a service charge in your contract and the service the caterer provided was below par, not only should you discuss with the caterer that your expectations were not met and you want to knock down the tip percentage, but, you have every right to ask that the price of the event be amended, too!

As stated above, caterer tipping is usually included in the contract. However, if it is not, and you were thrilled with the fabulous job your caterer did, discreetly presenting them with an envelope containing about 15% of the cost of the service when the event has concluded is totally acceptable. I would stick with 10% if they just met your expectations and did not exceed them, and, for anything less than that, you need to give the caterer nothing more than an earful!

Photo: stock.xchng/Joe Zlomek

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

L. Williams May 15, 2013 at 4:42 pm

I’ll be writing a check for a $5K catering order, for a two day conference. Two people mainly helped us, and they did a tremendous job. However we’re funded by grants, and I know that $500 will sound like an excessive amount to my boss, let alone $750. You don’t think it would be RUDE to leave $500 or less, do you?

Jana May 17, 2013 at 7:04 pm

I am a server for a caterer and let me say this, We rarely get tipped at events!! This is very hard work and we are always overlooked. If it is on the contract as a service charge that is NOT THE TIP. Some caterers charge the tip but it is plainly written as a tip. Most do not include the tip, because it is based on your service and who knows what kind of service you get ahead of time. The best way to show your gratitude is to pay your catering staff individually. There is nothing worse than working extra hard at a wedding or party and get screwed on the tip. We make minimum wage and the bulk of our income is the tip!! Thank you.

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