Behind the Kitchen Door

Behind the Kitchen Door

5.0 2
by Saru Jayaraman
     
 

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A groundbreaking exploration of the political, economic, and moral implications of dining out, focusing on the lives of restaurant workers in major cities across the United States.See more details below

Overview

A groundbreaking exploration of the political, economic, and moral implications of dining out, focusing on the lives of restaurant workers in major cities across the United States.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
For all its talk of organic foods and sustainability, the restaurant industry pays little mind to the health and welfare of its own low-wage employees. In this persuasive volume, Jayaraman, co-founder and co-director, with Fekkak Mamdouh, of the advocacy group Restaurant Opportunities Center United, draws attention to servers, bussers, runners, cooks, and dishwashers across the country "struggling to support themselves and their families under the shockingly exploitative conditions that exist behind most restaurant kitchen doors." Jayaraman recalls instances where wait staff at eateries in Washington, D.C., for example, or New York City handled food when they were sick: one woman had pink eye; another man had contracted H1N1; neither had sick days to use or medical insurance. Not only did they prolong their illnesses by working, they put their customers' health at risk. Though Jayaraman cites studies and statistics aplenty, it is stories like these that effectively illustrate her point. She also addresses racism in restaurants, where "workers got darker - literally! - as you walked from the front door to the kitchen, and the darker the workers' skins, the less money they were likely to earn." Jayaraman champions employee causes and argues fervently against discrimination, giving restaurant owners, diners, and readers considerable food for thought.
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Library Journal
Subminimum wages, discrimination, and workplace danger beset most food workers in America. Activist Jayaraman helped workers who lost their union jobs in the World Trade Center's restaurant, Windows on the World, on 9/11. The restaurant owner promised to rehire them at a new restaurant, but hired only a few at reduced wages. Jayaraman's Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) grew out of this first campaign. The author reveals why ROC is such a powerful movement: many restaurants steal workers' wages and tips, and put white workers in the best jobs out front while assigning those of color to the worst kitchen work. Women are harassed and not promoted. Few food workers have insurance or even sick leave, which is a problem not just for the workers; patrons also suffer when ill workers prepare and serve meals. Finally, Jayaramen makes a clear connection between worker abuse and filthy kitchens, rotten food, and customer illness. ROC has won back-wages and sick time for restaurant workers and partnered with responsible restaurant owners to improve both working conditions and profitability. VERDICT This book will leave readers angry at the injustices detailed within, queasy about eating out, and much better tippers.—Duncan Stewart, Univ. of Iowa Libs., Ames
From the Publisher
"For all its talk of organic foods and sustainability, the restaurant industry pays little mind to the health and welfare of its own low-wage employees. In this persuasive volume, Jayaraman draws attention to servers, bussers, runners, cooks, and dishwashers across the country 'struggling to support themselves and their families under the shockingly exploitative conditions that exist behind most restaurant kitchen doors.' . . . Jayaraman champions employee causes and argues fervently against discrimination, giving restaurant owners, diners, and readers considerable food for thought."—Publishers Weekly (11 February 2013)

"The author reveals . . . [how] many restaurants steal workers' wages and tips, and put white workers in the best jobs out front while assigning those of color to the worst kitchen work. Women are harassed and not promoted. Few food workers have insurance or even sick leave, which is a problem not just for the workers; patrons also suffer when ill workers prepare and serve meals. . . . This book will leave readers angry at the injustices detailed within, queasy about eating out, and much better tippers."—Library Journal (15 February 2013)

"Behind the Kitchen Door is a powerful expose of the labor practices of the contemporary restaurant industry. . . . Throughout the book, the author brings her points alive by providing profiles and stories from individual restaurant workers."—Janice Fine, ILRReview (October 2014)

"With Behind the Kitchen Door, Saru Jayaraman has introduced a fresh and essential perspective on our culture's food obsessions and dining habits. By highlighting the lives and circumstances of workers who are often unseen and unheard, she has helped us see that labor is a key ingredient of authentic sustainability, and greatly enriched our understanding of those people who have—whether we have recognized it or not—been part of some of the most important celebrations of our lives."—Danny Glover, actor, producer, and cofounder of Louverture Films

"Half of all Americans eat out at least once a week. The restaurant has become our second kitchen. In her groundbreaking new book, Saru Jayaraman exposes a missing plotline in the story of our food: the story of who's behind the kitchen door, how they’re treated, and why it matters. Hers is a captivating, rousing story. If you care about where your food comes from, this book is for you. Read this book, get inspired, and join the fight for fair food behind the kitchen door." —Anna Lappé, founder of the Real Food Media Project and bestselling author of Diet for a Hot Planet

"The poorest paid workers in America are the ones most likely to be cooking your food and washing your dishes. Saru Jayaraman tells their stories with searing analysis and vital compassion in this landmark book. She shows how the most exploited aren't just victims, but survivors organizing for dignity and safety in the food system. And in so doing, she helps us understand that sustainable food isn’t just about how organic or local the food is, but how high workers can hold their heads."—Raj Patel, bestselling author of The Value of Nothing and Stuffed and Starved

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801451720
Publisher:
Cornell University Press
Publication date:
02/12/2013
Pages:
208
Sales rank:
1,323,021
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

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