"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)
"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
About the Author
Saru Jayaraman is cofounder and codirector of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United and director of the Food Labor Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley.
Eric Schlosser is the author of Fast Food Nation, Reefer Madness, and Chew On This, and he has been a contributor to The Atlantic since 1994.