"A revealing exposé of the realities of restaurant work that makes a strong case for reform." Kirkus Reviews
"Well researched. Jayaraman investigates the employment practices of a wide range of restaurants, from fine dining establishments to fast-food chains; the issue that riles her most is the federal minimum wage for tipped workers." Wall Street Journal
"Paints a grim picture of the food business today: Millions of service industry employees live in poverty, most big restaurants are not great employers, and many still pay servers $2.13 an hour, the federal minimum for workers who receive tips. But the book also makes the case that restaurants can survive and even prosper while paying workers well and offering them generous benefits." New York Times
"Few people are better versed in the ways in which tipping marginalizes those who depend on it. Tipping, Jayaraman says, isn't merely problematic in its current, contemporary context; the practice is abhorrent from a historical perspective, too." Washington Post
"Offers case studies and rankings of the working conditions at eateries, ranging from greasy spoon diners to coffee shops, white tablecloth places to national chains. As Jayaraman argues, restaurants can be both profitable and good places to work, too." NPR's "The Salt"
"The purpose of the book is not to start a vicious boycott or pat the good guys on the back; it is to inform diners about their choices. Jayaraman believes that elevated standards will ultimately benefit restaurant owners by creating sustainable improvements in employee loyalty, customer service and profits. Her fundamental message is that when workers do better, employers do better too." Food and Wine
"Not everyone has the luxury of quitting their horrible, no good, underpaid food service job, and it's those workers who are the subject of Forked." The Grist
"Forked examines how restaurants treat everyone from bussers to line cooks. It promises to peek behind the scenes at restaurants to show how they pay and treat their employees. Will it change how we think of dining out? Author Saru Jayaraman hopes so." Eater
"Jayaraman's well-articulated and -researched argument for higher standards in the restaurant industry focuses on workers over profit and how this approach is more sustainable in the long term." Library Journal
"No one has done more to move forward the rights of food and restaurant workers than Saru Jayaraman. This is the story of the next steps in the movement, as told by the woman who is creating them." Mark Bittman, author of The Kitchen Matrix and A Bone to Pick: The Good and Bad News About Food
"That restaurant workers can be paid as little as $2.13 an hour and require food assistance to survive is a national scandal. Forked tells the stories of enlightened restaurant owners who treat and pay workers decently, with immediate returns in employee loyalty, better customer service-and profits. This book should inspire all restaurant owners to take the "high road," and all of us restaurant customers to demand that they do." Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University and author of Soda Politics: Taking on Big Soda (and Winning)
"Saru Jayaraman makes a powerful case that an employee-first restaurant culture is not just the right thing to do, but also leads to more sustainable-and more profitable-business fortunes. It's especially gratifying to study her list of 'high road' employers, peppered with real life examples that will no doubt inspire and light the way for others." Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group and author of Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business
"A critical book that shines light on the restaurant industry and all the practices that undermine workers-especially women. Saru Jayamaran brilliantly and bravely moves us toward the day when the industry is transformed and sustainable wages are the norm, providing examples of restaurant companies doing it right, and naming those that still have a long way to go." Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues and founder of V-Day and One Billion Rising
James Beard Leadership Award winner Jayaraman (coauthor, Behind the Kitchen Door; cofounder, Restaurant Opportunities Ctrs.) helps consumers evaluate restaurants critically, rather than accepting how they're marketed. She argues that businesses need to be rated by how well they treat employees. Since service workers are twice as likely than other Americans to be on food stamps, the advocate for "family-sustaining wages" sees new rating standards as necessary. The author met and spoke with chefs, owners, managers, workers, and customers across the country. Her insider guide is framed around 14 case studies that rate restaurants using the criteria of wages, paid sick days, and internal mobility. In addition to her ranking of restaurants, Jayaraman offers actionable ways for restaurant owners, employees, and diners to effect change in the industry positively. In addition to notes and images of restaurant owners, the title contains illustrated tables of restaurant ratings. VERDICT Jayaraman's well-articulated and -researched argument for higher standards in the restaurant industry focuses on workers over profit and how this approach is more sustainable in the long term.—Nathalie Reid, Univ. of California, Los Angeles
How diners can act on their ethical concerns each time they eat out. Activist Jayaraman (Behind the Kitchen Door, 2014)—co-founder and co-director of the Restaurant Opportunities Center United, a national movement aimed at fostering change in the industry—hopes to raise diners' consciousness about wages and working conditions for those who prepare and serve meals. Unlike authors such as Michael Pollan or Dan Barber, Jayaraman, winner of a James Beard Leadership Award, focuses not on sustainable farming and environmentally sound food choices but rather on equitable treatment of restaurant employees. ROC United has evaluated a variety of restaurant types: casual and family-style restaurants, such as California Pizza Kitchen and Philadelphia's The Quick Fixx; fine dining establishments, such as Red Hill Restaurant in Los Angeles and the Ruth's Chris Steak House chain; Mexican eateries across the country; fast food restaurants, including McDonald's, Subway, and Taco Bell; diners; and coffee cafes. Each chapter begins with a chart of restaurants evaluated as Low Road (poor working conditions) and High Road according to four criteria: wages for nontipped workers (hosts and hostesses, dishwashers, prep cooks, line cooks, and porters); hourly wages for tipped workers, which can legally be as low as $2.13 per hour; policy about paid sick days; and access to raises or promotions. With this book, a diner trying to choose between Chipotle, which earns ROC's praise, and Taco Bell, which has been sued repeatedly over employee rights, can make an informed decision. ROC's findings, downloaded to a smartphone, can serve both as a guide to eating and to taking action. Jayaraman urges diners to share their values with restaurateurs, to join ROC, and to tell elected officials to support "One Fair Wage" for all restaurant employees. A revealing exposé of the realities of restaurant work that makes a strong case for reform.