Eli Revelle Yano Wilson is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of New Mexico.
Eli Wilson's careful research reveals the parallel universes of work that keep upscale restaurants humming. At the front of the house, young, white bartenders and servers who telegraph cool and class leisurely interface with the customers and collect the higher pay, while in the kitchen an army of lower-paid Latino immigrant men frantically cook, clean, bus tables and literally run as food runners. But one of the many surprises is this: the back of the house runs not only on super-exploitation, but also a complex work culture defined by an ethos of loyalty, mentorship, skilled craftsmanship, and masculine competition. And a smaller sample of US-born Latinx workers use their in-between status to leverage new positions. Offering nuanced insights into how race and class operate in the workplaces of 21st century global cities, this book is a must read not only for students and scholars, but also for fine dining enthusiasts, celebrity chefs and their Instagram followers-if they are willing to look beyond their plates. -- Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo, Florence Everline Professor of Sociology, USC This beautifully written book uses the world of restaurants to provide readers with a primer on the making and re-making of everyday social inequality. Filled with lively ethnographic detail and yet always keenly analytical, Eli Wilson has delivered is a volume to be savored by scholars and students alike. -- Roger David Waldinger, The Cross-Border Connection: Immigrants, Emigrants, and Their Homelands You'll never see that Hamachi crudo with yuzu kosho the same way after reading Eli Wilson's Front of the House, Back of the House. The stories and commentary of this well-told tale of restaurant work give that plate a chain of literal back-stories : of structural and racial discrimination and of the real humanity of food workers. The meeting point in a fine-dining restaurant is the kitchen-to-dining-room pass-through where the dishes created by mostly brown-collar workers, with different pay scales, languages, family lives and opportunities meet the front-of-the-house workers whose wages, lives and experiences, in the very same establishment, are so very different. This should be required reading for anyone interested in the social, economic and racial coding of labor in America - and for anyone who comes to the table to consume the foods of that labor. -- Merry White, author of Coffee Life in Japan Eli Wilson invites us inside some of the fanciest restaurants in Los Angeles. The food may be exquisite, but the mundane racism he documents will churn your stomach. As a waiter he is privy to a system of racial apartheid between the front of the house and the back of the house. This book vividly shows how white managers and workers benefit from the everyday oppression of immigrant laborers. -- Christine Williams, author of Inside Toyland: Working, Shopping, and Social Inequality