Article by Joanna Sarah-Freedman
Got a mate’s birthday meal coming up? Well, if you’re eating out, you might wanna leave that Colin The Caterpillar cake you bought at home.
We’ve all heard of ‘corkage’ (where you pay a fixed price to drink your own alcohol in a restaurant) but what about ‘cakeage’?
Yep, the phenomenon took over Twitter recently, after TV scriptwriter Ivor Baddiel, who is brother to comedian David Baddiel, told followers of the potential charge he was facing for bringing a cake to his birthday celebration.
“I asked the restaurant I’m going to for a birthday lunch today if we could bring a cake with to be brought out at the end of the meal,” he wrote.
“They said yes, but they’d charge us cakeage (yes, cakeage) at £10 a head. What is this world we live in?”
Naturally, in the comments, the crowds were divided.
Some agreed the charge was outrageous, with one even dubbing the charge “daylight robbery”.
“Personally, I’d have cancelled the entire booking and found a restaurant that wanted your business,” said one.
However, others rushed to defend the move, noting: “Do you take petrol to a petrol station? Do you take your own tea bags to a coffee shop?”
Restaurant critic, Jay Rayner, was another, chiming in: “I would think charging a customer to bring your own dessert, which means you’re not buying one of theirs but are taking the time of staff and using their crockery etc, is completely reasonable.”
And he was joined by several other chefs, who also saw no issue with the charge.
Chef Andrew Scott, of Wadworth, reasoned: “You’ve stopped them being able to sell dessert to you though, as you’ve brought your own?”
Whilst Paul Foster, of Michelin-starred Salt Dining, added: “I’m a big fan of cakage, have charged it myself several times”.
The phenomenon of ‘cakeage’ isn’t new, but it’s certainly becoming more wide-spread, and rearing its head beyond the world of fine dining.
And whilst it might seen rather horrifying to some, the alternative, according to some chefs, is banning external cakes altogether.
This is the way a few chefs, like Asma Khan, have gone already.
Speaking on the Off Menu Podcast with Ed Gamble and James Acaster, the founder of Covent Garden’s Darjeeling Express said: “We don’t do cake for lots of reasons. It’s awkward, it’s awkward to say no and people can get very emotional.
“But it’s a hard one and I think a lot of restaurants struggle with this because you don’t want to come across as mean.
“People have chosen to come to your restaurant to celebrate a birthday and then they whip out this £2 cake which 18 people are going to have slices of and you think ‘Ahhh. This is a tough one’
“The thing is that people bring in one cake and then we have to give them cutlery and cut and if anyone has an allergy – it is all very stressful.”
Maybe forking out a few more bucks for the cake on the menu wouldn’t be the worst thing, after all?
It looks like the jury is still out on this one…