Every so often, someone stands up against the general outrage that appears online every single day. This week, Samad Iqbal Yar Khan, a pastry chef working in Perth, Australia, defended the cake cutting fee at restaurants, also known as 'cakeage.' The online opinion was posted in response to Fed Up Perth's repost of an article that decried the cake cutting fee and declared it truly unfair and unbelievable.
Before we begin to judge whether or not cake cutting fees are truly ethical, it's important to understand both sides. If you've never worked in a restaurant before, it's quite easy to say that cake cutting fees are an outrage because you are bringing a dessert, previously paid for, to the restaurant and therefore shouldn't be charged by the restaurant.
However, Khan's spirited response to this outrage makes an awful lot of sense, too. Here's the transcript of the comment, with expletives removed:
"Omg seriously *** ******! There is so much more that a cakeage fee is meant for besides fridge storage!
The very fact that you have bought your own dessert to a fine dining restaurant or ANY restaurant that does dessert for that matter necessitates cakeage simply to cover the cost of the restaurant's desserts that you have chosen not to order...a cost from which comes not only food cost but labour cost and profit, yes PROFIT...it's a dirty word but everyone's entitled to it if they work hard!
The cakeage fee goes beyond covering costs, it pays for an actual SERVICE. Not only does it pay for storage of the item but it pays for the time taken to properly present it, redecorate (if necessary), cut it, plate it, run it, serve it, clean up after the job, and neatly repackage it and return it to the customer.
Paraphrasing customers - "Oh come now, you're just cutting a cake! It doesn't warrant a service charge...all the work has been done for you!"
Bull****! I have to cut your cake perfectly, evenly (I use rulers!), divide up edible decorations to go on the plate, provide sides if asked for, carefully put it back without damaging what is usually a mangled cake TO BEGIN WITH (I've gotten cakes that look like they've been sat on I swear).
All of this is usually done on a bloody Saturday night when I'm hip deep in dessert orders and all the other servers are having kittens wondering why I'm not playing their desserts. It's because I'm totally focused on doing the best that I can for YOUR cake, YOUR special occasion.
Don't even get me started on these ornate boutique 5 tier cakes that are more suited for a wedding than a restaurant...trying to cut those it a skill in itself ?
It's $25 for the whole cake...not per person so please calm your ******* farm. It a nominal fee.
No table service? Go to a better restaurant that has table service! Don't try and find fault in the cakeage cz of a lack of service, you're still bringing your OWN dessert?! The $25 is NOTHING. It won't even cover the cost of 2 desserts that you could have ordered instead.
Cakeage is $7 a slice in some places and some places wave the fee all together if you order dessert for more than 50% of your table and will still do everything to make your cake experience amazing and not charge you cakeage! And if the restaurant has made the cake for you that's even better for the customer! Top notch work and no cakeage!
We as chefs don't want to take advantage of your celebrations but please realise that we are still entitled to be paid for something you want us to do FOR YOU! Stop expecting everything free or complimentary ?
It's hospitality people...you want free cake cutting then go to your mumma's house."
While this comment is very opinionated, it does bring up many good arguments in favor of the cake cutting fee. Just because you bring your own cake doesn't mean that it's of quality - and that very fact could add valuable time to the entire cake cutting process. If a chef messed up the cake you brought from home, you'd probably be upset, right? It's totally normal, and chefs try to not upset you.
And this often happens in some of the busiest time frames in a restaurant, meaning that the restaurant's own desserts aren't being plated quickly enough to send out to customers that are paying for their dessert at the establishment.
However, the alternative argument is that bringing a cake from home means that it is a very personalized touch on what is assumed to be a very special occasion. If that's the case, maybe we shouldn't mind the cake cutting fee as we are asking the kitchen to do an awful lot of work to make sure no mistakes happen.
What do you think about the cake cutting fee at restaurants here in the U.S.?