Stories / Impact

Introducing the Open for Good: Compensation, Benefits, and Growth Guide

A guide on how chefs they changed their businesses for the better

Morgan Carter

April 20, 2022


Image of chef wearing a mask prepping food
Photo: Clay Williams

Over the last two years, restaurants across the country have implemented new strategies to keep their businesses afloat—fine dining establishments started offering takeaway and delivery services, paper menus were traded in for QR codes, and many restaurants turned to online ordering, among other pivots. Alongside these outward-facing changes, many restaurant owners used the pandemic to overhaul their internal practices, finding ways to provide benefits, flexible scheduling, and educational training and classes to retain and cultivate staff. Over the course of three months, the Foundation interviewed chefs across the country to speak about these new business practices, developing a roadmap of the many ways in which employers have revamped their models now and for the road ahead. This work has culminated in the Open for Good: Compensation, Benefits, and Growth Guide. 

This guide features insights from chefs and owners on the business practices and “pivots” they’ve made to their business models to offer their employees compensation and benefit structures appropriate to this new era for the industry. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to wages and benefits. Rather, this guide can be used as a reference for industry professionals looking to understand the various ways their peers have diversified their offerings.

Topics include: 

  • Paid Time Off (PTO) and insurance: “Offering insurance is a ton of work—it’s a lot of paperwork. I’ve been doing it and I’m still trying to be on the line some days. But you need to give a full stack of benefits. If I agree that this person is valuable to me, why can I not insure them right now?”—Michael Gulotta, Maypop 
  • Opportunities for career growth: “My partners are really open always to mentoring people. As far as chefs are concerned, we all mentor.”—Ayesha Nurdjaja, Shuka and Shukette 
  • How to communicate with your staff: “I wanted to make off-site and event work financially visible on paychecks…I wanted transparency. I wanted everyone to know how my brain works, what they are looking at, what they’re getting paid, and why.”—Shota Nakajima, Taku 
  • And how to communicate new changes with consumers: “The pandemic allowed us some freedom to say, ‘I’m sorry, this didn’t work for us,’ and to do right by the staff instead of accommodating everything. There’s a little less tension around ‘the guest is always right’ and more collaboration and conversation with the staff and guests.” —Ji Hye Kim, Miss Kim 

Along with stories and best practices from business owners, the guide also features insight from business experts on lease negotiations, health insurance, and 401(k) retirement plans. 

Download the Open for Good: Compensation, Benefits, and Growth here. To learn even more, tune in this Wednesday, April 20 at 5:00 P.M. ET for a webinar featuring Elizabeth Tilton of Oyster Sunday to learn how this data can help improve your business. 

For notice of this opportunity, news, and other program updates, sign up for our Industry Support Newsletter here.  

Morgan Carter is the content manager at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Instagram and Twitter.