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Collection Occupational Folklife Project

Kitchen Workers in Central Ohio

In 2017, Jess Lamar Reece Holler, an independent Ohio-based folklorist, received an Archie Green Fellowship from the American Folklife Center to document the occupational experiences and traditions of “back-of-house” kitchen workers in or near Columbus, Ohio. She interviewed 16 veteran, part-time, and recently-employed food employees working in kitchens, community markets, food trucks, and pop-up eateries. As Holler notes, the contemporary emphasis on celebrity chefs and local suppliers has largely overlooked and failed to document kitchen and other restaurant workers, who are “at once food artisans and wage laborers.” They are engaged in a skilled trade, yet many work without the benefits, security, or collective organizing afforded other occupational groups.

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