With Yelp and Zagat, we know how restaurants rate when it comes to their cuisine, ambiance and service. But what about how they rate when it comes to treating their employees? In her new book, Forked: A New Standard for American Dining, Saru Jayaraman, co-founder of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United), explores the good, the bad and the ugly in the American restaurant industry. The book profiles fabulous restaurants taking the “high road to profitability” and provides ratings of America’s most popular eateries based on the wages, working conditions, and promotion practices they afford workers.

On January 26, the Ford Foundation and ROC United hosted a discussion on Jayaraman’s new book and what can be done to improve worker conditions in American restaurants. The event featured prominent figures in the restaurant industry, including restauranteur Danny Meyer and chef and Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio, who are taking the “high road” in providing their employees fair wages, good working conditions, and opportunities.


Welcome Remarks

Ford Foundation President Darren Walker and owner of Union Square Hospitality Group Danny Meyer provide opening remarks on improving worker conditions in the American restaurant industry.


Forked: A New Standard for America 

Saru Jayaraman, co-founder of ROC United, discusses her new book, Forked: A New Standard for American Dining.


Taking the High Road in Fine Dining

Leaders in American fine dining discuss their experiences in building successful restaurants while paying and treating their employees fairly and other high road business strategies.


  • Tom Colicchio, Craft Hospitality
  • Rosanne Martino, COLORS Restaurants
  • Danny Meyer, Union Square Hospitality Group
  • Andy Shallal, Busboys and Poets
  • Alice Waters, Chez Panisse
  • Saru Jayaraman, ROC United


A New Standard for All Food Service

Leaders in the American restaurant industry discuss ways they have increased wages, improved working conditions, and offered better promotion practices for workers in casual dining restaurants.


  • James Freeman, Blue Bottle Coffee
  • Ben Hall, Russell Street Deli
  • Imar Hutchins, Florida Avenue Grill
  • Brian Parker, (moo cluck moo)
  • Vimala Rajendran, Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe
  • Paul Saginaw, Zingermans's Community
  • Saru Jayaraman, ROC United
  • Inclusive Economies


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