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Kitchens: The Culture of Restaurant Work
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Kitchens: The Culture of Restaurant Work

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  37 ratings  ·  6 reviews
Kitchens takes us into the robust, overheated, backstage world of the contemporary restaurant. In this rich, often surprising portrait of the real lives of kitchen workers, Gary Alan Fine brings their experiences, challenges, and satisfactions to colorful life. He provides a riveting exploration of how restaurants actually work, both individually and as part of a larger cu ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 5th 1996 by University of California Press (first published February 1st 1996)
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Ashland Mystery Oregon
An academic work first published in 1996, examining the work culture of four Minneapolis-St Paul restaurants. Extensive use of quotes and observations to describe community, rank, and behavior with some relation to restaurant success, with notes and bibliography. Good fundamental text on the structure and mechanics of kitchen operations and feeding the masses.

In the new introduction to the 2009 edition, Fine compares his work to those by Bourdain and others, putting it into perspective with the
Arjun Mishra
This is an excellent and important ethnography about an undervalued and critically important segment of the American social and economic milieu - cooks - the people who make delicious food. As far as the ethnographic work goes, Fine's work is well-detailed, analytic, and insightful. I have no qualms about his methodology and observations. My only issue is that his selection of restaurants in the Twin City area was limited. Keeping in mind that this occurred in the 1980s, the upscale and elite re ...more
I'm a huge admirer of Gary Fine's work, and think that I would have rated this much higher had it not felt as dated as it did. Granted, this didn't make his sociological explanations any less valid, nor his ability to describe aptly and evocatively the atmospheres and locales in which his work is situated. In other words, from an academic standpoint, this book deserves a higher rating. The foodie in me, however, feels compelled to point out to potential readers that this behind the scenes accoun ...more
Jan 23, 2013 Nathanial added it
Shelves: food
Sociological study from the 80's on a handful of restaurants in the Twin Cities area: a hotel restaurant, a family steakhouse, an established upscale place, and a haute cuisine place. Chapters focus mainly on the experiences of chefs and cooks, especially looking at demands of time, restricted and shared spaces, economic contingencies, aesthetics, and decision-making processes. My favorite parts are the excerpted interviews; hearing the voices of the kitchen staff is SO familiar. The author only ...more
Nicholas Aune
A very interesting perspective on the culture of professional kitchens. Fine, a sociologist, examines the daily life of four restaurants in the Minneapolis- St.Paul area and describes in great detail the language and socioeconomic culture that allow kitchens to function as organizations.
Another fabulous ethnography by Gary Fine. The book is of interest to sociologists and anthropologists who study all aspects of work, occupations and organisations as well as for students in the sociology of aesthetics. Fine covers the practices cooks and staff produce in kitchens, how they deal with contingencies emerging in restaurants and brought into the kitchen by waiters, any many other areas of kitchen work. Highly recommended.
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