Kitchens: The Culture of Restaurant Work

January 24, 2009

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Gary Alan Fine's backstage, sociological residence in restaurant kitchens revealed cooks who were less prone to “acting out” than some current depictions. These (mostly) men were more serious as workers and less sophisticated as artistes. Some of this resulted from the fact that he was observing in the backstage of kitchens in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul. Some of the differences in style resulted from regional character. Still, much was happening in these kitchens, including some actions that would be disconcerting to diners. Diners will only wait so long for their meals to be cooked before they complain, and as a result if a steak falls on the stove or on the floor (!), the demands of the diner forces the chef to wipe it off, reheat and serve. Bon Appetit! Here is a backstage world where what diners don't know, (mostly) won't hurt them. The work of cooking requires adjusting to the demands of the clock: thyme and time again.

 

Recorded Saturday, January 24, 2009 at Kendall College.