Do you charge for extra items?

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Freebies or fair game? Chef hits out at guest complaint (credit: Getty/ libin jose)
Freebies or fair game? Chef hits out at guest complaint (credit: Getty/ libin jose)

Related tags Food Gastropub Finance Social responsibility

MasterChef star Simon Wood has sparked a debate after sharing a diner’s complaint that they were charged for extra butter on a cheeseboard.

Chefs and customers alike flooded to Twitter to discuss the question, should pubs and restaurants charge for added ingredients?

The guest claimed they’d been charged an added £2.50 when asking for butter to accompany their cheese and crackers at Wood restaurant, Manchester, Greater Manchester. They said the butter, which was adorned with flower petals, “looks pretty, but come on… should be on the board without asking”.   

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But Wood, who won BBC MasterChef in 2015, called out the customer for expecting restaurants to “just give food away”.

Support hospitality

He tweeted: “Why do people expect restaurants to just give food away? And I mean at any point, never mind in the current economic climate… if you order something that is or isn’t on the menu (as is the case here) it’s chargeable, I don’t think that’s unreasonable.”

The cheeseboard at the restaurant included five wines, five cheeses, unlimited crackers, one lot of bread and two chutneys for £25. For Wood, this was good value, and besides, he added, “butter doesn’t belong on a cheeseboard”.

MCIOB senior surveyor Iona had no objection to paying for extras. She said: “Butter is not free for you to purchase, it doesn’t come ready prepared, it has to be stored. All those cost. Margins are tighter than ever, support hospitality!”

This sentiment was echoed by Manchester’s Tokyo Ramen, who said it was “very sad” to see so many people expecting free stuff.

Charging extra

However, others, including Hazel, believed butter shouldn’t be classed as an ‘extra’ as was normally included with cheese and crackers. “Do you charge for salt and pepper to?” Hazel asked. “What about vinegar?”

A similar debate was fuelled in 2019 when a Merseyside restaurant charged £1 for gravy.The Morning Advertiser ​asked operators for their two cents.

Karen Errington, licensee of the Rat Inn, Anick, Northumberland, said if someone ordered something that was an integral part of the dish, she would not charge for it, and being flexible was in the “spirit of remaining hospitable”.

However, Stosi Madi, chef-patron of the Parkers Arms in Newton-in-Bowland, Lancashire, charged for added items, as it took her three days to make gravies and sauces from scratch.

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