The Cultivation of Taste: Chefs and the Organization of Fine Dining

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9780198758358: The Cultivation of Taste: Chefs and the Organization of Fine Dining

After many decades, if not centuries, of neglect of fine food and high-level restaurants in Britain, we are seeing a massive explosion of interest in food, cooking, and dining out. Christel Lane's book charts the process of this transformation and examines top contemporary restaurants and their chefs.

The Cultivation of Taste presents a comparative study of Michelin-starred restaurants in Britain and Germany, focusing on two countries without an indigenous haute cuisine but which nevertheless have developed internationally reputed fine-dining sectors, and comparing their development to the fine-dining culture in France. Written from a sociological perspective, chefs are portrayed as part of a complex network, in their relationships with their employees, their customers, gastronomic critics, suppliers of food, and even their financiers. It will appeal to academics in the areas of economic and cultural sociology, and those with an interest in small entrepreneurial firms and their work relations, but also to all those who have an interest in fine-dining restaurants and the chef patrons at the centre of them.

The book draws on a large number of interviews with renowned chefs, diners, and Michelin inspectors to provide an unprecedented insight into what goes on in Michelin-starred restaurants--what makes their chefs tick, intrigues their critics, and beguiles or annoys their customers. Restaurants are viewed not simply as businesses but as cultural enterprises that shape our taste in food, ambience, and sociality.

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About the Author:


Christel Lane, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge

Christel Lane has been a Professor of Economic Sociology at the University of Cambridge and is a Fellow of St. John's College. Christel has been working on fine-dining restaurants in Britain and Germany since 2009. Visiting a large number of Michelin-starred restaurants and their chefs, she has published articles on this topic in the journals Food, Culture and Society, British Journal of Sociology, and Poetics. This work combines her long-standing interest in economic sociology with the sociology of culture. Christel's most recent books are Capitalist Diversity and Diversity within Capitalism (Routledge 2012, edited with Geoffrey Wood); and National Capitalism, Global Production Networks.Fashioning the Value Chain in Britain, the US and Germany (OUP 2009, with Jocelyn Probert).

Review:


"The reader of this book is a guest at Lane's table as she parses the phenomena of fine dining, encouraging us to critically consider the gains of culinary exploration and the social organization of taste. Beyond the restaurant industry, her study of these "peculiarly outmoded business organizations" adds a comparative, geographically sensitive perspective to productive ongoing dialogues among economic, cultural, and organizational sociologists on the study of contemporary elite taste and cosmopolitanism."

-- Administrative Science Quarterly


"Christel Lane has produced an authoritative guide to fine dining as a social, cultural, and economic institution with complex systems of support and deeply rooted national differences. We learn that taste is a contested terrain, where every culinary act reveals competing values, suggesting that the world of fine cuisine is no less complex than the world at large." --Sharon Zukin, author of Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places


"At last! A serious study of one of the most striking changes in culinary culture since the 1980s: the rise of the cult of 'fine dining.' In an age of television chefs and cooking as competitive display, there has often seemed to be an element of spectatorship or even gastro-pornography in the public's interest. France has had its haute cuisine for centuries, but neither Britain nor Germany was previously noted for a robust tradition of high-end eating. Professor Lane shows that the British and German chefs are no longer simply following French models: their food also has local roots. Focusing on chefs and their restaurants that have gained the coveted Michelin stars, this book is essential reading for all who take a keen interest in serious eating." --Stephen Mennell, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, University College Dublin


"Scholars and enthusiasts will profit from this deft comparison of the development of contemporary fine-dining restaurants and their chefs in Britain and Germany which offers a thorough account of the multiple tensions involved in business management, working life, craft training, and aesthetic inspiration." --Alan Warde, Professor of Sociology, University of Manchester


"[A] sociological approach lies at the heart of Lane's study of the world of fine dining, which becomes in reality a study of economics, work relations, and aspects of English and German history and culture that drive the public and restaurant workers to hold particular values and to be trained and work in certain ways... The Cultivation of Taste is replete with charts and data, and there is no doubt the author did a large amount of painstaking research. I may have issue with what she has to say about some of that research, but there can be little question that she has dug deep and thoroughly documented a previously under-examined topic... It is, however, a book dense with information and a real find for anyone doing research on restaurants or employment, and certainly of interest to those in the hospitality industry." --ZETEO


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