Tag Archives: restaurants

It’s Bigger than Paula Deen

By Guest Contributor Dr. David J. Leonard, cross-posted from Dr. David J. Leonard

The fallout from Paula Deen’s deposition and the lawsuit itself is a reminder of the ways that race and gender operate within the restaurant industry.  It’s bigger than Paula Deen.  Yet, as you read media reports, as you listen to various commentaries, you would think this is a story about an older white woman wedded to America’s racist past.  Yes, this is a story about Paula Deen, and her crumbing empire.  But that is the beginning, not the end. This is bigger than one individual, her reported prejudices, or the lawsuit at hand.  This is about a restaurant industry mired by discrimination and systemic inequalities.

Racism pervades the entire industry, as evident in the daily treatment faced by workers, the segregation within the industry, differential wage scale, and its hiring practices.  According to Jennifer Lee, “Racial Bias Seen in Hiring of Waiters:”

Expensive restaurants in New York discriminate based on race when hiring waiters, a new study has concluded. The study was based on experiments in which pairs of applicants with similar résumés were sent to ask about jobs. The pairs were matched for gender and appearance, said Marc Bendick Jr., the economist who conducted the study. The only difference was race, he said.

White job applicants were more likely to receive followup interviews at the restaurants, be offered jobs, and given information about jobs, and their work histories were less likely to be investigated in detail, he said Tuesday. He spoke at a news conference releasing the report in a Manhattan restaurant.

There really should not be a lot of difference in how the two of them are treated,” Mr. Bendick said. He was hired by advocacy groups for restaurant workers as part of a larger report called “The Great Service Divide: Occupational Segregation and Equality in the New York City Restaurant Industry.” He has made a career of studying discrimination, ranging from racism in the advertising industry to sexism in firefighting.

Mr. Bendick said that in industries, such experiments typically found discrimination 20 to 25 percent of the time. In New York restaurants, it was found 31 percent of the time.

A recent report from the ROC (Restaurant Opportunities Center) found that Darden Restaurants (Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Capital Grille, among others) was responsible for creating a racially hostile environment.

Continue reading

Would you like a nunchuck with that spicy tuna roll?

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

ninja new york restaurantIf the whole New Demographic thing doesn’t work out for me and Jen, it’s good to know that we have backup options. Like working at Ninja New York, for example, a (I kid you not) ninja-themed restaurant here in the city. Yeah yeah neither of us are Japanese, but we’re yellow enough to contribute to the super-authentic dining experience of the losers who would dine there. From Grub Street:

Nina Cha found her calling when she answered a Craigslist ad that read, “WANTED: Ninjas who do magic.” We asked her about her qualifications, and she told us about her brushes with Frank Bruni’s wrath and Tara Reid’s posse.

Nina Cha
Ninja New York
25 Hudson St., nr. Reade St.; 212-274-8500

What kind of training did you get?
There were two months of extensive training before we opened. The first week they gave us the history of ninjas and what’s thought to be myth and legend. We had magic classes once or twice a week. And tastings.

Do kids get scared?
Some do, because it’s very dark and we have ninjas popping in and out.

The dumpling manifesto

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

dumplingsTim Wu just wrote a hilariously obsessive column for Slate bemoaning the poor quality of dumplings available in the U.S.

Jen, I feel like this is such a you kind of post. Not only is it about food, but it’s just begging for some of Jen Chau’s patented corny puns. ;)

Dumpling rage, like road rage, strikes without warning. My first attack came in my mid-20s, while dining at Raku, a Washington, D.C., “pan-Asian” restaurant. I made the mistake of ordering something called Chinese dumplings. Out came a bamboo steamer containing what resembled aged marshmallows—dumplings cooked so long they were practically glued to the bottom of the container. Try as I might, I could not pry them loose, until one ripped in half, yielding a small meatball of dubious composition.

It was an outrage. To my friends’ embarrassment, I stood up and shouted at our waiter:

“What are these?”

“Dumplings,” he said.

“These,” I said, “are not dumplings. The skin is too thick. The meat is too small. It’s been cooked too long. The folding is done all wrong.” My friends begged me to stop, and the manager threatened to call the police.