“Where’s My Food?!” is a new documentary that serves up the surprising truth about waiters and waitresses.
We spend half of our food dollars — $660 billion per year — in restaurants. (Fifty years ago we spent only 20% of our food budget eating out.) That kind of revenue empowered the National Restaurant Association (a.k.a. “the other NRA”) to successfully lobby Congress in 1996 to keep the federal minimum wage for tipped workers at $2.13/hour. It’s been that low ever since.
One-in-ten Americans currently work in food service. Viewers of “Where’s My Food?!” are introduced to nine extraordinary waiters and waitresses who represent a diverse mix of ages, backgrounds and incomes. The film highlights their often-hidden struggles with the NRA, poverty-level wages, discrimination, substance addictions, and serious health issues that impact coworkers and customers.
Frequent restaurant customers candidly admit how they sometimes “punish” servers by leaving very low tips. However the same customers show little awareness of how tipped employees actually earn their living. “Where’s My Food?!” takes viewers behind the scenes into the “back of the house,” where chefs and cooks rule.
Academic and industry experts explain how tipping works from psychological and socioeconomic perspectives, how one executive chef runs his restaurants with an iron fist and a soft heart, and how consumers can drive positive change through awareness and political action.