I did man-on-the-street interviews at the one-day WastED pop-up at Shake Shack, which featured a veggie burger made of juice pulp, rejected beet ketchup, and day-old Balthazar bread. People’s reactions were pretty interesting! Dan Barber and the Shake Shack culinary director, a very enthusiastic and creative guy named Mark Rosati, chimed in, too. Read my piece on Food Republic.
If you’ve ever been a server, chances are you’ve watched your day’s wages disappear when snow or rain starts coming down hard, and all the reservations cancel. If you’ve ever been a line cook, most likely you’ve bitterly wondered why, with your culinary degree and rock-star knife skills, you’re earning the same hourly wage as the 19-year-old hostess who spends her time texting behind the podium.
Last fall, the Economic Policy Institute reported that 40 percent of restaurant workers live in poverty. And on top of providing low wages — maybe $12 per hour for a line cook in any critically-acclaimed restaurant in cities as expensive as L.A., New York, or San Francisco — very few restaurant jobs offer benefits like health insurance. Yet, many people, have chosen to pursue these careers because they love them and have culinary or service talent.
One chef in New York City is taking a stance against the unfair employment structure that pervades restaurants across the country.
Amanda Cohen’s vegetarian restaurant, Dirt Candy, recently re-opened in a new space, with an unusual proposition: no tipping. Instead, diners will pay an “administrative fee” of 20 percent on top of their meal price. Cohen’s workers are paid between $15-$25 per hour, with the exception of managers, who are salaried. Read more →