How much do you make?
I compensate myself with 6000 francs after taxes. And if there's anything left over at the end of the year, I offer myself a bonus. However, usually there is nothing left over. Are you aware of how expensive a restaurant dishwasher is?
25,000 francs and the coffee machine in my restaurant costs 15,000 francs. Being an entrepreneur, I always have to reinvest. That is why I prefer to be cautious.
So what does money mean to you?
Let's put it this way. I'm constantly crunching the numbers at the moment.
I thought you were cooking. Why this?
Conditions in the industry have become precarious. The pandemic ruined us. So many good people have left the gastronomy industry. And young employees got caught up in the crisis during Corona, doubting, questioning whether they really wanted to work every night and miss out on a social life. They quit. And yeah, it's a struggle in the kitchen, it's rough. You know, I went home crying so many times. You have to be very mentally resilient. Fewer and fewer young people are. The numbers show it. And now we can't find staff. Or only the ones who demand horrendous salaries.
And yeah, it's a struggle in the kitchen, it's rough. You know, I went home crying so many times.
And at the same time, our customers are asking for more and more at a lower price. The have become more complicated. It's sheer pressure: the guests demand, and we must deliver right away. It doesn't add up anymore.
The pandemic ruined us. So many good people have left the gastronomy industry.
Explain the calculation to me?
The minimum wage in our industry is 4208 francs. We have stopped paying more when you get older. You only get a higher wage if you do further training. People without qualifications - including me - would only be entitled to 4208 francs according to the collective labor agreement. I am dyslexic and I was a miserable student at secondary school, but as a cook I was among the top five. Now I desperately need staff. I get applications from 23-year-olds with secretarial apprenticeships, diplomas - a First in English, for example - but with no practical on-the-job experience. However, she would then already be entitled to a salary of 5500 francs.
I am dyslexic and I was a miserable student at secondary school, but as a cook I was among the top five.
Has the labor market gotten so parched?
Yes, in fact, not even my longtime hospitality job recruiter could help me anymore. I was in search of a junior chef. The placement officer told me, "Meta, have a seat, please." I sat down and had a cup of coffee. He then tells me that he has a young chef who has been out of apprenticeship for a year, but has not been able to work because of the pandemic, thus his job experience is practically zero. And this young chef straight out of his apprenticeship wants 5800.-. That' s almost as much as I earn! I literally spilled my coffee. The sector is dead. And by the way: this chef is hired already, at this salary.
How did you get through the pandemic financially?
I was covered by pandemic insurance, plus short-time work. That worked out well for a long time. Then they cancelled my insurance, as no one offers pandemic insurance anymore. Then came the emergency measures. As a business owner, I didn't receive any wages. Short-time work did not apply to me. At the very same time, I had to invest, into partition walls, sanitization, safety concepts.
Besides, Meta's GmbH has two revenue streams. One source is the restaurant, while the other is my gigs. There was nobody to cover the event losses. The insurance company wouldn't pay for it. The shows still haven't started again properly. However, I am well aware: other people have been hit even harder.
What are you referring to? I know cases where employees wanted to be dismissed because they would receive 40 francs more as jobseekers than as short-time workers. For a warewasher who has to live off a total of 3,900 francs, that's a real blow. The majority of them feed an entire extended family and send money home. It's really sad.
Have you ever been broke yourself?
Yes. My sister helped me out of it. I was a troubleshooting cook, that is, I cooked for people in their homes, and I had to front money for food. But the clients took two to three months to pay the bills. That ruined me. Ever since that day, I learned how to manage money. And since that day, I always pay myself the same salary. I have been able to manage with this.
Within my company, we have full salary transparency. Everyone knows everything. I don't want this talk.
Women would rather talk about their own death than about money, why is that?
In my circle, I also discuss wages with women. Within my company, we have full salary transparency. Everyone knows everything. I don't want this talk. That' s too much of a joke for me. Our 40-year-old female runner earns 4,500 Swiss francs, which is about the same as my young auxiliary cook. I tell them everything before I hire them. I have a staff of seven, four women and two men. I also had a brigade of seven men.
In gastronomy, there is a rough, military tone. I have dealt more with men throughout my life.
Who handles money matters at home?
Both of us. We each manage our own money. We are not married. A joint treasury? No way. Mine is mine. The only thing we manage together is the rent account. And when we travel, we both contribute to it.
Why this strict separation? I've had some bad experiences. I used to pay my first boyfriend's taxes with my mini-wage. That was my great love. I only made 3500 francs a month and he 5500, but I spent it all on him.
Have you ever inherited?
No. Those with money are still alive (winks). No, seriously: I don't come from a rich family. My parents got divorced. And that cost them a lot. Although, yes, my grandmother once gave me 5000 francs, which I gobbled up.
I've given up a lot of things, friends and yes... even children. I would always have liked to have children.
You always had to make ends meet?
Yes, as a young cook you don't earn much. When I had some money left over, I would have to buy a decent camera to take pictures of the food. Even today, as an entrepreneur, I only take two to three weeks' vacation at the most because of finances. I've given up a lot of things, friends and yes....
...even children. I would always have liked to have children.
Who talked to you about money when you were a child? My single mom talked to me about money.
How did you earn your first franc as a child? For a long time I couldn't handle money at all. I was always "curling", that is, buying things for my sweet tooth. And I would steal coins from my mother. Until she noticed. Fortunately, I started early with youth jobs, at the age of 11. I handed out flyers and envelopes, for example. Those jobs helped me understand money things.
How is your pension planning?
I have made very bad provisions. I haven't taken care of it for years. I have a third pillar, that's all I have. I never set up a pension fund. And I canceled my life insurance. It was poorly invested, too. I really have to take care of my pension in 2022.
Good idea! Thank you for this honest talk.