|Four— The Commonwealth of Cuisine|
|图书名称：Kitchens:The Culture of Restaurant Work|
图书作者：Gary Alan Fine ISBN：
出版社：Berkeley: University of California Press 出版日期：1996年
Workplaces are sites of fellowship, of culture. In a sense, an organization is a minisociety: a world with social structure and culture. The organization is a place where people care about each other; they may not like one another and may scorn or resent their colleagues, but they do care . Activities of co-workers matter, directly or indirectly.
Restaurants as small organizations are communities, often consciously. With the modest number of employees found in most restaurants—rarely does a restaurant have over one hundred employees—workers know each other by name, often have learned vast amounts about each other's biography and interests through personal narratives and shared experiences, and see themselves as linked.
The communal aspect of an organization—as a place where people meet, share, and care—recognizes connections between an organizational analysis and an interactional one, a view evident in contemporary symbolic interactionism, neo-Marxism, and the new institutionalism. This connection can be recognized in organizational culture through the realization that culture is fundamentally linked to a power structure (Lamont 1989). This culture, coupled with the demand for belonging or collective selfhood (an organizational self), is both cause and effect of this culture, tethering people to organizations. The concept of organizational culture (Deal and Kennedy 1982; Peters and Waterman 1982; Smircich 1983; Ouchi and Wilkins 1985) emphasizes that customs, traditions, values, artifacts, jokes, and sagas are as important as formal structure or explicit goals. Organizational culture is a key means by which a negotiated order is established and reified by workers—making the workplace personally central, preventing alienation (Fine 1984; Ouchi 1981; Martin 1992). Organizational culture provides rules for negotiation (Kleinman 1982), techniques by which hierarchy is made real (Hodson 1991; Burawoy 1979), and legitimation for external contacts (Schwartz 1983; Kamens 1977).
Restaurants As Close Organizations
For an organization to function efficiently and for workers to contain alienation, participants must feel that they belong: that the organization matters. One effective strategy of connecting workers to their work is for management to propound the metaphor that the organization is a family, a primary group providing personal self-image, community, and local culture. Organizations advance the claim that the chief executive officer is father (e.g., Clark 1972). Sometimes this metaphor is explicitly proclaimed by the organization itself in a self-serving or sincere attempt to increase worker loyalty; on other occasions workers will make this point themselves. Of course, organizations prefer voluntary commitment, and, from my observations, workers give this commitment more often than might be expected:
Not every worker used the metaphor of the family, but many named the tight friendships in the kitchen as a pleasure of work. The danger in using rhetoric emphasizing the emotional closeness of workers occurs when the rhetoric is used by those managers who are resented by workers—a problem of large or mismanaged organizations. For example, the Blakemore Hotel attempted to promote this closeness and caring. Some unhappy workers felt that this was a con perpetrated by an organization that had very little interest in them: "I just think [the kitchen is] poorly run. . . . When Bernice [a pantry worker] started, [the chef] came up to me and said that I want you to go up to Bernice and say, 'I'm glad that you're working for the Blakemore.' Like I'm a personnel director [sarcastically]. I looked at him and said, 'Are you serious?' and he said yes. 'Now,' I said, 'wait, I'm not going to do that.' How cornball" (Personal interview, Blakemore). An easy request, which co-workers might do spontaneously, has become an indicator of managerial disrespect and cynicism, because the emotional basis for communal concern is absent. Yet, even at the Blakemore, although there is little support for management, workers are friendly.
Feelings of personal closeness occur despite, and perhaps because of, the diversity of kitchen workers. The personal backgrounds of waitresses, cooks, and pot washers vary widely, as do their ethnic backgrounds. While for some this diversity is a barrier to communication, for others it is a benefit:
The sense of community is evident both within and outside of work. I noted that cooks occasionally arrive at work early or stay late to insure that they will complete their tasks smoothly and with a minimum of pressure. More surprising is that some workers "hang out" at the workplace, where they talk with friends, even though they are not "at work." Indeed, a merging of workplaces and "third places" (Oldenberg 1988; Marshall 1986)—places of sociality—is common in many work scenes. Lounges are not only used by those on duty. Of all the places that workers could be, they choose to be at their place of employment because they can use resources at hand for their own enjoyment and because that is where their friends are. The former is more understandable from an instrumental point of view: "Ron is sitting in the chef's office, using the restaurant calculator, doing homework for his chef-training course at a local technical college. I ask Ron why he's here, and he answers, 'The calculator is here.' He is not scheduled for work today" (Field notes, Blakemore). On other occasions cooks drop by to be served a "free lunch" at times that they are ostensibly off duty. More notable is the visit for sociable purposes, such as when a cook stays for three hours after his or her shift is over or when he or she is in "the neighborhood." The restaurant becomes a staging area for the interpersonal relations that transcend the doing of work. In fact, many best friends (Fine 1986; Putnam and Mumby 1993) are contacts at work.
Work-based friendships blossom outside work, and at each restaurant cooks, servers, and sometimes other staff share leisure, such as parties, fishing, concert going, or sports:
Sometimes the kitchen friendships—as in all workplaces (Fine 1986; Parkin 1993)—transcend the platonic, becoming horizontal as well as vertical connections, although such relationships were not obvious at any of the four restaurants during the period I observed. If workplaces can generate liking, they can also spark love: "I think that there's a lot of hanky-panky between waitresses and cooks, and waitresses and bartenders. I don't think it's bad here at all, but I worked here during the days when it was bad. I think that the divorce rate is very high in this business, because there's too many opportunities. Everybody gets through with a busy night or something. They want to relax, and they go and have a couple of drinks, and the next thing you know they're checking into a motel" (Personal interview, Owl's Nest). He focuses on heterosexual play, but in many scenes—including the restaurant scene—homosexual ties are common. While I did not observe flagrant relationships or public intimacies, the workplace is an arena with a full array of social ties.
Restaurant Culture As Interpersonal Connection
Max Kaplan (1960) noted of leisure that "matters of taste are the social property of small groups, and as such they may provide useful indications of group boundaries." This is echoed in Robert Freed Bales's (1970, pp. 153–54) comment that "most small groups develop a subculture that is protective for their members, and is allergic, in some respects, to the culture as a whole. . . . They [the members] draw a boundary around themselves and resist intrusion." I have termed the culture of small groups an "idioculture" (Fine 1979, 1982), defined as "a system of knowledge, beliefs, behaviors, and customs shared by members of an interacting group to which members can refer and that serve as the basis of further interaction. Members recognize that they share experiences, and these experiences can be referred to with the expectation that they will be understood by other members, thus being used to construct a social reality for the participants" (Fine 1987c, p. 125).
What has been demonstrated for families, sports teams, criminal groups, and others is equally relevant for organizations (e.g., Roy 1959–1960; Ouchi and Wilkins 1985; Schwartzman 1987). Small, closely knit organizations such as these restaurants may have a robust culture. More than fifty years ago Thurmond Arnold (1937, p. 350) detailed the cultural dimension of the "folklore of capitalism": "When men are engaged in any continuous cooperative activity, they develop organizations which acquire habits, disciplines, and morale; these give the organizations unity and cause them to develop something which it is convenient to describe as personality or character." The existence of organizational sports teams and beer busts testify to this feature of organizational life. As Alice Waters suggested, restaurants have different values as organizations, different styles, and varying cultures. In making this argument, I ignore the existence of a restaurant "subculture"—those sets of cultural traits and actions that transcend individual restaurants and characterize large swaths of the industry and its associated occupational orders.
In each restaurant where I observed, cultural traditions were known by the kitchen staff, which they used as points of reference. For instance, nicknames were common. At La Pomme de Terre one maître d' was nicknamed "Young" because he had once called himself "Young Christopher Doane." At the Blakemore, Kate was called "Cates" (and she wore a nametag to this effect) because the food and beverage manager once called her that. Argot also developed. Much industry jargon is uniform across restaurants, even across regions (Gross 1958, pp. 386–87), but whether local or subcultural, this language facilitates communication. At the Owl's Nest dishes needed immediately were labeled "downtown," and dishes and products were given shorthand names, such as an ivory salmon, shortened to "ivory." On other occasions argot had a more expressive character, as at Stan's, where walkin customers—those without reservations—were known as "Hessians." I witnessed a chef scribble a swastika on a ticket to indicate that it was for a "Hessian."
Work culture goes beyond nicknaming and slang to capture shared experiences. At La Pomme de Terre the former chef served as a reference point, even though he had left the restaurant several years before and was now the chef-owner of a competing establishment:
During his tenure at the restaurant he hired his wife as pastry chef, and I was told that the cooks would delight in smelling her cakes burn, not telling her, in order to hear him berate his wife for "incompetence." References to this man were common, as dishes were compared, usually favorably, to the dishes that he had them prepare when head chef.
A Commonwealth of Jokes
Often organizational culture is connected to expressions of humor (Sykes 1966)—the threads of traditions are jocular. This form of discourse is crucial for binding organizations. Humor, with its attacks on fellow workers (Seckman and Couch 1989), is critical for determining the boundaries of the community and, thus, who can be trusted. Jokes reflect for the moment the willingness to accept a shared view of the world. Everett Hughes (1971, p. 341) notes that "among the most important subject matter of rules is setting up of criteria for recognizing a true fellow-worker, for determining who is safe . . . who must be kept at some distance." New workers are often tested through humor to see if they can take it (Haas 1972). Despite not being serious, the audience response becomes highly consequential. The recognition of implicit values suggests a common core of belief. Cooks, like other workers, have finely developed justifications for play (Marshall 1986, p. 33). While they argue sanctimoniously and sincerely that play and joking should not block the instrumental demand of "getting things done," they believe play should be extended as far as possible to strengthen community, drain excess energy, or relieve boredom. Humor is alleged to contribute to the satisfaction of working; for example, one cook told me that joking was "half the fun of working in the kitchen" (Personal interview, Blakemore Hotel). Others speak of the need "to keep everybody's spirit up" or "to keep the tension down" (Personal interviews, La Pomme de Terre)—emotion work through discursive practice, a key feature of organizational life. One cook explained:
While an observer might question the accuracy of this cook's assessment of his state of relaxation, he reflects how workers wish the workplace to be. They want to enjoy the circumstances of their labor and, in playing, establish a "joking relationship." Through a series of speech acts and behavioral traditions, workers tame the job's instrumental requirements and the strains that might otherwise occur because of conflicting interests.
Most organizations develop a robust joking, teasing culture, providing a forum intersecting the desire for interpersonal closeness and the creation of shared memories. Talk becomes the interactional glue that binds colleagues in a community (e.g., Grimshaw 1989). In examining humor in organizations I examine three genres—horseplay, teasing, and pranks—which, although they do not exhaust all the possible forms of humor, represent the main forms of interpersonal humor. Few formal, set jokes are found; humor creates and is responsive to circumstance. I exclude humorous remarks or actions that are not directed toward co-workers, such as sarcastic remarks about the restaurant, customers, or the working situation in general although these remarks also help to establish (or, in some cases, undercut) community.
Each genre can be understood by reference to the involvement of the interactants and by their awareness contexts (Glaser and Strauss 1967). Horseplay depends for its successful completion on the knowing involvement of multiple participants. Solitary horseplay is structurally impossible. Horseplay involves an open awareness context. Teasing, likewise, depends upon the parties to the teasing being aware of the frame. However, unlike horseplay, which is necessarily joint, teasing can be either asymmetrical or reciprocal—with one teasing act following another. Pranks differ in that, like their close kin, practical jokes, the target needs to be firmly wrapped in a tight, opaque cocoon. The target resides in a closed awareness context, enmeshed, for the moment, in a fabrication of which he or she is little aware. The direction of the humor is unidirectional although, of course, there is typically an audience beyond the perpetrator and target. While all three forms of humor are communal, they differ in their structure and how knowledge of the interaction is shared.
Whether because of the spatial tightness of the kitchen and the intensity of the relationships among this group of young kitchen workers, mostly young males from working-class backgrounds, I found much boisterous camaraderie. Horseplay is common, thoroughly enjoyed, even though in some cases, given the presence of knives and hot pans, the jocularity can be dangerous. This physical activity contrasts with the boredom that workers might otherwise experience (Molstad 1986). Work cannot easily be separated from leisure activity (Bowman 1983; Bell 1984). Work and play blend into each other, with play filling large or small temporal cracks (Fine 1990).
Much of the horseplay found in restaurant kitchens is centered on food. Food, the focus of the instrumental aspects of work, also is the focus of the expressive culture. Foodstuffs are the dominant reality of cooks—the source of frustration and satisfaction. At Stan's cooks played catch with a steak; at the Blakemore they threw a cauliflower. At a pizza restaurant the employees played "a make-believe game of baseball . . . where a rolling pin was used as a bat and pizza dough was used as a ball" (Bowman 1983, p. 109). Tools are also incorporated into this play:
An extreme example of collective horseplay occurs when one's body becomes the object of humor, as in a case of mooning reported by a female cook: "One Sunday we were cooking brunch, and it was really hot, and me and this guy John and another guy, we took our pants off, and we were standing at the counter, and the waiters . . . handed orders in, and when the three of us turned around, and our butts were sticking out of the back of our aprons. It was really cute. I really like that. Just a little comic relief. A lot of things like that go on" (Personal interview, La Pomme de Terre). Cooks, sometimes with other restaurant employees, transform their work space into a playground, sharing in the enjoyment and satisfaction of breaking from the primary work frame. When this is achieved collectively, it is especially effective in generating satisfaction within a structure that does not have worker satisfaction as an explicit goal.
Teasing is one measure that a workplace—or any social system—is harmonious. Teasing is a marker of community; its existence recognizes that there is enough looseness or "give" in relationships that one person can make a joke at another's expense without the belief that those sentiments are real. That is, a play is built into the stable relationships among actors, based on sympathetic role taking. Situations establish those frames that are tied to them (see Gonos 1977; Fine 1983). In workplaces, a set of semiformal teasing ("kidding") relationships are important in that they mean to participants that they trust each other sufficiently that they can rely on them for work-related tasks. New workers are expected to tease in return, becoming part of the group. Proof of friendliness is critical for interaction; teasing provides a clear indicator of this attitude.
With the exception of the rush (see chapter 2), kitchen environments are filled with interpersonal joshing. The organization of talk can be defined as primarily expressive. Laughter is provoked by conversational mechanisms, grounded in shared understandings of the production of talk (Jefferson 1979; Sacks 1974). This teasing may be work related, but anything can trigger a teasing episode:
On occasion people joke about absent others, for example, when the owner of the Owl's Nest jokes about his wife in a manner that reveals both his willingness to bask in the teasing and a racial insensitivity: "Dan, the owner, asks Paul, the head chef, for a can of oyster sauce to take home to his wife, saying: 'She drinks oyster sauce like it was pop.' Paul responds, 'She isn't Chinese.' Dan replies, smiling: 'Sometimes she acts gooky'" (Field notes, Owl's Nest). That an owner would be willing to make his spouse a target of jokes suggests that he is—for these workers—a "good guy," someone for whom these workers should wish to work diligently, despite low wages, poor equipment, and difficult working conditions. This owner also shares a reciprocal teasing relationship in which he and his head chef lock each other in the cooler and refuse to open the door. This teasing relationship permitted these men to finesse their disagreements and the strains of their positions.
Not all teasing is easy, in that it depends upon relationships of trust. Sometimes when cooks tease status inferiors, trouble brews. On one occasion several cooks considered placing trout heads in the pockets of a mildly retarded potman, but they let the matter drop for fear he might be angered. These cooks tease the other mildly retarded potman, who doesn't anger as easily, but even here, a certain discomfort exists because of the difficulty of having Ray give as good as he gets: "Dan, the owner, blows the horn of Ray's bicycle. When Ray returns from checking on his bicycle, he reports: 'I won't say nothing, 'cause I know who it is.' The other cooks tell Ray that he should blow the horn on Dan's car. Later, Paul, the head chef, jokes to Ray about Jon eating a scallop: 'We'll take it out of his paycheck. That will be five dollars.' Ray seems somewhat nervous, unsure whether Paul is kidding, and tells Paul: 'He took two.' Paul says: 'We'll take ten from his.' Ray turns to me and says nervously: 'We have a lot of fun back here.'" (Field notes, Owl's Nest). Teasing demands a belief in equal status; my observations suggest that this belief is not always possible to maintain, despite the benefits to all if it is accepted. One female cook at La Pomme de Terre, shy and feminine, was unable to participate in this banter, and that, coupled with her inexperience as a working cook, led to her termination.
Teasing is endemic at work, providing a temporary stigma, which others address and ignore at will, suggesting that we are all "passing"—that there is more than enough stigma to go around. That we agree to create, play with, and bracket this stigma suggests we care enough about each other to demonstrate that our propinquity measures communal feeling.
We reside in a world of Candid Camera and other manufactured and mediated practical jokes. In reality, this represents the desire to entertain ourselves by making the lives of others temporarily miserable. The willingness of these others to play along with this misery, making themselves uncomfortable for the satisfaction of others, suggests the power of social bonds. That pranks should be central to the establishment of interpersonal closeness is strange in that on their surface they appear opposed to the establishment of friendly relations. Of course, there are advantages gained from being a target—being considered a "good sport" and having the opportunity to return the misery. Like teasing and horseplay, being the butt of a prank (e.g., sending a new worker to the storeroom for a can of steam) is a marker of trust. That victim is expected to be a prank initiator in the future, becoming part of the economy of pranks. While pranks are not immediately reciprocal, in the long run they should balance. The danger, often found at camps and other preadolescent locales, is that a victim will receive more than his or her share of pranks and deliver less in return.
In the work culture "classic" pranks often have a lengthy "referential afterlife" (Goffman 1981): they are remembered and reported long after their original occurrence. One good prank can serve for many, and major pranks, as opposed to minor physical teasing, while rare, were vividly described in interviews. Memories and reports of memory are shared by workers; this sharing connects them in a powerful web. They have a humor culture.
As with horseplay, pranks frequently involve symbolic manipulations of food, causing embarrassment or discomfort to co-workers: reordering the mundane character of the kitchen, polluting the food. Paul, the head chef at the Owl's Nest, was known for the scope of his pranks:
This extract depicts the tension involved in this joking. Paul's memorable prank was mean, and Denise remembers it still, as did other workers who mentioned it in their interviews. While there is real affection for Paul, the desire for revenge is real, made difficult by his status and his suspicion.
Other restaurants have prank cultures, focusing on food products. The kitchen is a workplace in which situational looseness (Goffman 1963) characterizes the doing of work—differentiating it from more tightly controlled and observed places (e.g., Borman 1991):
The success of the prank is a function of the trust among co-workers. They are willing to leave drinks available to co-workers and then not become irate when sabotage occurs. Some pranks do not involve personal discomfort but create the illusion that work tasks are complicated or difficult. In practice they undermine the routine grounds of everyday life, not trust: "We had some shrimp in the steamer, and Dale took the shrimp out, and he puts [in] all this baby shrimp, so when the steamer went off, Kate opened it up and saw all these baby shrimp, and she said, 'Oh, my gosh!'" (Personal interview, Blakemore Hotel). Other pranks play off specific work demands—manipulating the tickests—creating the illusion that much work is to be done:
The virtue of this common prank is that it causes no real harm, is not seen as mean spirited, and is easily set right. Among adults, pranks are only played among friends. The hostile prank is rare. In fact, only once did I learn of a prank targeted at a co-worker who was openly denigrated for falling for the "joke"—in this case the only waitress on the staff: "Dane, a waiter, hands Jody a hot baguette without warning her that it is hot. She grabs it and slightly burns her hand. Lesley, a female cook, tells him: 'That's mean.' He replies joking: 'If the little fool takes it, it's not my fault'" (Field notes, La Pomme de Terre). Pranks by themselves do not carry any inherent social meaning but are given meaning by the personal, status, and structural relationships among the parties to them. Pranks are situated, and this situated quality relates to how pranks are understood. More than presenting incongruous events—in which the world becomes a radically different place from what it appears to be—the prank conveys a message of superiority, in that someone has tricked someone else, a process that becomes evident when the prank is made public for all to observe: "We used to take rubber dog doo-doo or bones of fish skeletons and put it on a plate and ship it out to the maître d' for dinner and have him open it up in the dining room" (Personal interview, Blakemore Hotel).
Perhaps the most subversive act, quite possibly the rarest and certainly the most disgusting to the reader, is revenge played on the customer. In that the customer is unaware of what is being done to him or her, it is not a prank in the same sense as discussed above, and it is grounded in alienation, rather than community. Here the service and professional relationship between cook and customer is undercut. While these attacks were uncommon and lived in memory more than in fact, they reflect the potential backstage power of the cook. One wonders whether the following events actually occurred or were merely symptomatic of scorn to customers, mixed with a measure of homophobia:
While the kitchen is a community—a culinary commonwealth—those outside the boundaries are subject to attacks of whatever kind cooks feel they can get away with in the presence of their peers. Even this destructive example of humor can be fundamental for building community. Further, should it lead to termination, the job market is such, not relying on recommendations, that fired cooks can rapidly be hired.
As I described in chapter I, the unofficial techniques of cooking exemplify the underside of work. Deviance is as much a part of occupational life as ethics. Much that goes on in the kitchen should not be reported to management and must be hidden from customers and their representatives: health inspectors and journalists. Most organizations encompass deviance. These deviant actions typically protect the organization and the doing of work. Regulations proscribing deviance are established by "society," operating through their agents: health inspectors and local, state, and national regulations. Other regulations are established by a management that may or may not care if these rules are enforced: some toleration of deviance is a technique to satisfy workers (Field notes, Owl's Nest). Around every regulation exists a penumbra of enforcement; the violation of these regulations is a perquisite that workers may take for granted as part of their jobs. Cooks, like college professors and other laborers, are expected to pilfer some supplies; otherwise, they will steal more. They should be fed well; otherwise, they will connive to be fed well without management's knowledge (McPhee 1979, p. 70). During my months of observation, the amount taken was relatively minor, like most restaurant pilferage (e.g., Marshall 1986, pp. 39–40), and I only learned of two economically significant instances of theft:
More frequent than stealing food and money were the attempts of workers to violate health and safety codes that were perceived as infringing on their freedom without any clear benefits. Smoking is a domain in which rules are bent. At the Owl's Nest an ashtray was provided in the back of the kitchen; I learned that it was hidden quickly during a restaurant inspection. Cooks smoked at three of the restaurants. Hair nets were not always worn, and at the Blakemore a prohibition against nail polish was ignored: "Dana is wearing lilac nail polish today. When she sees that I have noticed it, she tells me: 'Don't write anything about my nail polish. I'm not supposed to have it on.' She continues to wear nail polish and never is reprimanded" (Field notes, Blakemore Hotel). Perhaps the deviance that the general public is most aware of, at least according to stereotypes, is alcoholism—a normative deviance. I cannot assess whether cooks have more alcohol-related problems than others; however, they believed that this was so. These young men and women, largely from working-class backgrounds, did drink after work, before work, and occasionally on the job, but I never observed any cook who was so impaired by alcohol that it significantly affected performance—I met no "stinking drunks." Alcohol is part of the "community," part of the setting, and part of the pleasure of working at a quality restaurant (i.e., one with a liquor license). As one cook explained, exaggerating:
For this man alcohol is a sacrament that creates intense bonds of community. Collective imbibing is central to community. The social characteristics of alcohol, linked to its easy availability in restaurant kitchens and perhaps to the heat and strains with which workers cope, leads to communal drinking.
Cooks generalize from the alcoholic cooks they know, playing off the stereotype of the drunken cook, to assume that their occupation is overloaded with drunks, denigrating their work in the process. The stereotype, perhaps based on empirical reality, makes cooks sensitive to the consumption of alcohol. The magnificent culinary writer, M. F. K. Fisher notes from European experience that drinking may be a preferred form of deviance from management's perspective: "All her cooks drank, sooner or later, in soggy desperation. Madame took it philosophically; . . . [she said,] 'The only cook I ever had that didn't take to the bottle ate so much good food that her feet finally bent under when she walked. I'd rather have them stagger than stuff'" (Fisher 1976, p. 405). Cooks are sensitive in our addiction-sensitive age to the dangers of alcohol: "[Otto notes:] I've been known to drink four or five pink gins. Gin and angostura. If it weren't for my work, I could drink all the time. You simply can't cook and drink. You cut yourself and burn yourself. You lose your edge" (McPhee 1979, p. 59). I was told frequently about the high rate of alcoholism although cooks often asserted that the problem is less severe than it had been, perhaps because of greater sensitivity to alcoholism or because cooks now come from a higher social class. Most cooks knew of or had worked with one or two alcoholics. One cook told me that, although he had worked with only one cook who was a "drunk," he read a survey that suggested that cooks were second only to bartenders in their rate of alcoholism (Field notes, La Pomme de Terre). Another told me, improbably, that "about 95 percent of us are alcoholics" (Personal interview, Blakemore Hotel), a statement that reveals more about the success of the alcohol-treatment industry than about the extent of problems in the kitchen. Many cooks claimed that no problem existed in their restaurant, but it was present in the industry as a whole—accepting the universal validity of the stigma while denying it locally.
Cooks did drink outside of work, joshing about this passion. The joking was similar to remarks among many young males about their interest and prowess in drinking and their kidding about its aftermath, revealing in the mock machismo of simultaneous swagger and denial. When I asked one young cook about the most satisfying thing about his job, he laughingly replied: "A Bud at the end of the night" (Personal interview, Stan's). Or when the head chef left one evening at 7:30, his assistant reminded him: "Remember that the next time I come in hung over" (Field notes, La Pomme de Terre). Or when one cook carried two bottles of wine, the head chef quipped: "Drinking with both hands today. I thought you gave that up" (Field notes, Owl's Nest). Alcohol was part of the accepted culture of these restaurants. All agreed that drinking should not be excessive and should not infect the workplace, but short of this, drinking was tolerated.
Each restaurant had a liquor or wine license, and so alcohol was present although it was shared discreetly, occasionally, and at the end of the evening:
This reflects the attitudes of many cooks: Drinking must be limited to permit the community to function. If it is, it is "no problem"; if not, the violator is tarred with the stigma of his deviance. The community is accepting as long as does not affect expressive or instrumental demands: the self-esteem needs of workers and the economic goals of managers. As Lew indicated, many managers recognize the utility of drinking as long as they can deny its existence, a view privately expressed by one owner. Proof would demand that they take action to correct a functional behavior that violates the rules.
The Breakdown of Community
When a social system doesn't work, either for a brief or long period of time, a crisis looms. While I selected these four restaurants because they were successful, small economic systems, positive emotions did not always characterize kitchen activities. Workplaces generate arguments and disputes from internal strains and external forces such as demands on workers by management or moods brought to work from outside. These locales are crucibles for emotion work.
Tension can originate in long-standing personal animosities. This hostility often derives from perceived performance inadequacies compared to one's expectations. The tension at the Blakemore between the head chef and his workers grew from their feelings that their boss was unwilling to pull his weight—operating as an "executive" chef, rather than a "working" chef. Several cooks were bitter because of what they perceived as his neglect of his culinary and community responsibilities. He was a "manager"—in their view, not a very good one—rather than a team leader.
Other less status-based sources of interpersonal friction also emerged: "Kate explains her disdain for a colleague: '[He] is an Aztec sun god with that Indian headband. A pathological liar. He doesn't do anything; he just goofs off'" (Field notes, Blakemore Hotel). Kate rejects this man culturally, personally, and professionally. At the Owl's Nest animosity existed between one hot-tempered cook and a pot washer "who didn't know his place." These persona dislikes were rare in these small organizations, but they had the potential for social pollution.
A more general question is how to cope with day-to-day friction, some of which was rooted in personal styles of workers, deriving from their class or cultural position. While most workers at the Owl's Nest insisted that it was a pleasant place to work, during the period that I observed, the head chef held a meeting to allow kitchen workers to express negative emotions in a contained setting. An effect of this meeting was that it became inappropriate to bring up those issues again, even if they were not fully resolved. The "feeling rules" of the organization (and many organizations) is that once an emotion is expressed, it is no longer an appropriate topic. The bad feelings were buried without being cured.
The one cook who was most angry expressed a belief in stern discipline, even though, as a young man who frequently provoked others to anger, he could have been the victim of the policies that he espoused. In a sense, he was criticizing himself in the guise of criticizing the head chef, who attempted to avoid conflict whenever possible. He explained:
Paul, attempting to avoid conflict, had his own "folk" theory of personnel management that differed substantially from his cook. He disliked bureaucratic rules and wanted to treat everyone personally, not confronting structural dilemmas. He explains his theory of emotional management:
Both men rely upon images of a properly functionally organization and upon images of professional behavior, but their theories of emotional management and how that emotional management fits into a organizational hierarchy differ substantially. To function efficiently, work organizations must not only have rules of emotional management (Hochschild 1983) but also must agree upon the means of negotiating their rules when differences of interpretation occur—a form of metanegotiation (Kleinman 1982).
Of course, disagreements are situated. While anger is found in kitchens, it often blows over like a squall at sea despite being memorable at the time. If a kitchen is a family, yelling is part of family dinners: "Irene mentions Gordon's terrible temper. . . . One day she was standing in between Gordon and a Cuban dishwasher, who were throwing dishes at each other" (Field notes, Blakemore Hotel). I witnessed cooks banging pans and throwing knives, glasses, utensils, letting their anger escape within the confines of their backstage community. Fortunately, work groups are sufficiently accepting that when the anger passes, the angered can be reintegrated—the emotional display need not be tied to the self, except when the display is too frequent or dramatic: emotional role distance operates. One cook explained hopefully: "Everyone screams at each other, and right away after work it's all forgotten and everybody's buddy-buddy" (Personal interview, La Pomme de Terre).
For those with structural responsibilities the linkage between emotional display and self may be seen as closer. A chef had been terminated at the Owl's Nest largely because of his wild temper: calm Paul represented a pleasant contrast. One cook described this previous chef: "He was obnoxious a lot, always yelling. Chewing people out. You could hear it in the dining room. He even chewed [the owner] out" (Personal interview, Owl's Nest). Another cook described a day this chef flung a hot pan across the kitchen into a distant sink. What might have been tolerable from workers could not be accepted in the supervisor—despite the reputation of temperamental chefs. Few chefs have sufficient status or credit to get away with this "emotional brutality" on a routine basis.
Emotions at work are tolerated to a degree because it is in everyone's interest that things flow smoothly and that conflict is papered over, so long as all seems well on the outside. Joking is one major way in which salve is spread; yet, expectations and beliefs in emotional stability must be heeded if a workplace is to be a commonwealth of friends: a place where all strive for common ends.
Networks of Kitchens
If an individual kitchen is a community, does the restaurant industry consist of a community of communities? While the answer to this question is a matter of degree, the close-knit connections that one finds in art worlds and other professional subsocieties are not evident here. While cooks could establish relationships because they share tasks and interests, in fact, such connections are rare. Because of occupational mobility, culture is spread, but no subcultural consciousness seems to have developed about food preparation.
Had this research been conducted in New York, Paris, San Francisco, Lyon, or New Orleans, a tighter network would surely have been discovered among the better restaurants. Similarly, some evidence suggests that owner-managers are in contact with their colleagues (Schmelzer and Lang 1991), scanning the organizational environment through social networks (Aldrich, Rosen, and Woodward 1986), a practice less useful to employees.
Cooking, like many occupations (Bucher 1962), is segmented. Some segments might be constituted like an art world with its tight social network. So, in Paris: "Among today's bright young chefs there is both competition and camaraderie. It is not unusual to spot one of them on his closing day enjoying a meal in a colleague's establishment, testing his own performance by comparison and gaining a bit of inspiration for a culinary takeoff when he gets back to his own kitchens" (Berry, 1979, p. 35; see also Wechsberg 1977, p. 128). Elite French chefs, like impressionist painters before them, sometimes vacation together, cook jointly, and trace their culinary lineage—activities absent in Minnesota, isolated from cultural elites.
Despite the possibility of the development of social connections, in fact, little networking occurred. Only once did a cook from another restaurant visit the kitchen of a restaurant that I studied: a cook from the hotel kitchen where two cooks from the Owl's Nest had previously been employed. Employers never visit former employees. Kitchen friendships might be intimate, but they are also transient. One cook commented: "One of those things about cooking, friendships are so transient. You meet somebody, you work with them, you become inseparable buddies, and then, all of a sudden, you change jobs, and you never see the guy" (Personal interview, La Pomme de Terre). While this cook did maintain contact with some past co-workers—important for job searches—these friendships are latent. Yet, although these contacts are relatively inactive, they can be activated. One cook at the Blakemore previously worked with a cook who had worked for the Blakemore's chef at a Ramada Inn, so she "got the scoop on him" (Personal interview, Blakemore Hotel). Another source of contacts for these workers are cooking-school classmates. Networks radiate from trade-school kitchens, unlike in elite French cuisine where young, ambitious cooks will move as apprentices from grand restaurant to grand restaurant, expanding networks of social contacts.
Cooks do not discuss culinary experiments with those outside their kitchen. A gifted pâtissier, the pastry chef at La Pomme de Terre reported she did not know other pastry chefs in the Twin Cities, not even her predecessor. When dining, cooks do not announce their occupational standing. They pay full price, receive no special treatment, and do not visit the kitchens. In fact, at one restaurant the manager prohibits complimentary meals for fellow chefs. At best, they might get a special appetizer or dessert, but this was a hypothetical question. The chef at the Owl's Nest emphasized that he had never eaten there before being hired. Further, as I note in chapter 7, cooks do not dine at the top restaurants, where they might be inspired, but at restaurants where they feel comfortable. Cooks eat like average middle-class and working-class residents of the Twin Cities, not like gourmets or foodies. They do not eat like artists but like customers.
One local occupational organization operates in the Twin Cities: the Midwest Chefs Society. This group includes primarily those involved in trade education and institutional cooking. Only one cook at the four restaurants regularly attended meetings of this group, and he was a trade-school student whose instructor was then president. What might have been an occasion for chefs and cooks to socialize and discuss aesthetic and practical problems was primarily an opportunity for organizing charitable events and for cooking instructors to meet with institutional cooks, providing a network for students to find a niche in the job market. There was little recognition of shared or collective problems. The closest the group came to occupational debate was their desire for certification of cooks—a boon for culinary training programs. The young cook who attended meetings of the group emphasized its ability to provide a network, but most cooks to whom I talked had little interest or time to participate. One cook, who described himself as "pretty insulated" (isolated), explained that he sees his job as a job and sees activities such as the Midwest Chef's Society separate from his interests (Personal interview, Blakemore Hotel). The head chef at La Pomme de Terre felt that he should participate, that he would like to meet more chefs, but that "it takes three consecutive meetings in order to become eligible for membership." His schedule, and those of other cooks, made attending evening meetings costly for cooks who do not teach or cook in institutional venues.
The existence of a social network was most evident for job placement. Personal contacts are an effective means of uncovering employment opportunities (Granovetter 1974). Although networking was not critical in the Twin Cities restaurant industry, latent networks could be activated when a cook was searching for new employment:
These network ties indicate that the culinary world is not entirely anonymous; yet, the connections are limited and insufficient to build the occupation's professional or artistic status. Even managers do not have much contact with other managers, seeing themselves in overt competition with nothing to share. I do not argue that social networks in the hospitality industry will inevitably have this thin character, but that thin networks are common because of the economic organization of the restaurant industry and the operational structures within kitchens.
Workplaces are communities by necessity: workers share a common space and so must cope with each other. Like all communities they are governed, with workers recognizing the existence and legitimacy of some form of hierarchy as long as it does not interfere overly with the successful and pleasant doing of their work. Typically workers need each other to help with tasks that their bosses and the requirements of their occupation demand. This is a compelling motivation for the existence of a strong culture and a tight community. Of course, workplaces can be more or less successful, more or less close, and need to be examined individually if one wishes to advise management. Communities establish local cultures—workplace idiocultures—which emerge from jocular relationships. These relations are of particular importance because, unlike merely being shared, they require that each person sacrifice himself or herself for the amusement of co-workers. Individual costs produce collective benefits. The emotional rules and ideology of the kitchen set the tone for what can and should be done—how the kitchen and the restaurant in which it is embedded—should be organized. In this, workplaces do not differ from families and sports teams, even if the commitment level may be attenuated. Emotional ideology belongs to workplace culture and connects directly to theories of organizational culture. All workplaces, but small workplaces in particular, have cultures that emerge from the doing of work and cannot easily be constructed by management. The culture becomes a reality for all those who are a party to it. Even though organizational sagas (Clark 1972) and other management-inspired traditions are possible, values and norms become sedimented because of the occupational structure of the workplace. When work is smooth, generating commitment to the organization, the culture is supportive and not subversive to organizational goals.
Finally, communities participate in larger communities. In the case of the restaurant industry, this larger community is not well organized. The temporal organization and competitive structure of the industry makes such a community doubtful, and the lack of a clear ideology that emphasizes subcultural values also decreases the perceived need for such organization. No matter how strong the kitchen community, an overarching community is not evident. Small, locally run restaurants operate under the aegis of "pluralistic ignorance" (Matza 1964), whereby groups simultaneously face problems without awareness that others are confronting similar problems. Whether this will be overcome remains to be seen, since today restaurants operate as if they were isolated islands, rather than a part of an archipelago.
1. The French are known for these doings, under conditions that others would find erotically challenging: "Pierre brought his girlfriend, Olympe, from Paris. 'She was a waitress at one of the restaurants where we worked,' Pierre whispered slyly. 'I made love to her in the cold room between the carcasses of beef. One day, the chef opened the door and said, "Oh, excuse me," and slammed the door at once. He was a good chef'" (De Groot 1972, p. 244).
2. In his study of brewery workers Molstad (1986, pp. 230-31) describes that to relieve the pain of boredom, these men throw bottles for the simple enjoyment of hearing them explode.
3. The existence of pranks and practical jokes has been documented at elite continue restaurants as well. For example, in one world-class restaurant in Lyons: "André walks across the kitchen carrying a tower of empty aluminum cake pans. Pierre, at the butcher's block, flashes out his foot and trips him. The deafening crash of the pans sets the whole kitchen to a roar of laughter" (De Groot 1972, p. 246).
4. Such episodes are also found in other occupational spheres. Much is done to patients when under anesthesia, which typically, though not always, can be made right before the patient blissfully awakens.
5. Consider this French-Swiss example of tight networking: "Girardet doesn't say much about his astonishing experience at the Troisgros's, but apparently it was there that he saw the light--or was struck by lightning. He drove back to Crissier and decided to try to cook in the new exquisite manner, refined and 'simple.' After a few hard years of trial and error he managed to do it. Now a third-generation Troisgros works as pâtissier in Girardet's kitchen" (Wechsberg 1977, p. 25).
6. Elite networks are stronger than those that are not, because of their greater interpersonal contact. This is also the case in some ethnic restaurant communities, such as the Macedonian community in Toronto: "To find a restaurant whose owner was moving out or to find a suitable place for a new restaurant, Macedonians relied a great deal on interpersonal relations with other Macedonians. During meetings of friends and relatives after work, information about daily happenings were exchanged. Changes in the neighborhood of one's work place were reported, and this often included information about new or old restaurants" (Herman 1978, p. 36). The denser the social network and the greater the openness, the more the social network can be used for job mobility.
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