The stark disparity in wealth in America is glaringly on display in the restaurant business. It is not uncommon for celebrity chefs to earn millions of dollars while the workers in their kitchens are deprived of a basic living wage. The typical restaurant worker in the United States still makes only about $16,000 a year, or roughly one-third the annual income of the average American worker.
In Behind the Kitchen Door, author Saru Jayaraman, co-founder of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, an organization that seeks to empower and represent restaurant workers, gives us a good account of what is actually happening behind the kitchen door at restaurants throughout the United States. It also brings to light some of the hardships endured by farm workers, meatpacking employees, and restaurant staff.