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

Book0199651655Christel Lane : The Cultivation of Taste: Chefs and the Organization of Fine Dining. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. 368 pp. $45.00/£30.00, hardback.

You can read the review by Michaela DeSoucey of North Carolina State University, available in the OnlineFirst section of Administrative Science Quarterly.

In today’s world, eating out is serious business. And Christel Lane’s new book, The Cultivation of Taste, is a serious—and engaging—scholarly investigation into the business of the culinary industry. Broadly, her comparative analysis of the world of fine-dining chefs and top restaurants in Britain and Germany is a study of the contemporary social organization and business of taste. It unites arguments from organizational theory, the sociology of culture, and economic sociology. Lane, a sociologist, takes the reader on a behind-the-scenes tour, spanning organizational and industry structures, the occupational careers and attitudes of elite chefs, and ASQ_v60n1_Mar2015_cover.inddthe taste-making power of gastronomic guides, namely the prestigious Michelin Guide. Her choice of Britain and Germany as case studies was a purposeful one; both are newcomers to fine dining and equally smaller than the French sector. Yet, despite lacking rich histories of haute cuisine, both have seen stratospheric public interest in home-grown fine dining—and all that neo–fine-dining entails in the 21st century—in the last few decades.

In theorizing the differences between the development of fine dining in the two countries, Lane offers both a macro-level study of institutional change within the field of European gastronomy and a meso-level investigation of organizational logics and repertoires of action among the chefs who inhabit this unique social world. This will likely be relevant for neo-institutionalists in regard to logics and inhabited institutionalism, as well as speak to organizational ecologists interested in category spanning. Lane relies primarily on Boltanski and Thevenot’s (2006) forms of “worth,” principles of evaluation that define what is appropriate, or not, in different realms of social life. Many of these conceptions of value are in conflict with one another here, such as tensions between creativity and profit. While it does not break much new theoretical ground for organization scholars, the book offers an in-depth look at how diversity in logics structures organizational entities and competing orders of worth in a hot cultural industry.

You can read the rest of the review from Administrative Science Quarterly for free by clicking here. Want to know about all the latest reviews and research from Administrative Science Quarterly? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

This entry was posted in Book Review, Cultural Research, Customer Satisfaction, Hospitality Management, Organizational Studies, Restaurants, Scholarship, Service and tagged , , , , by Cynthia Nalevanko, Editor, Management INK. Bookmark the permalink.

About Cynthia Nalevanko, Editor, Management INK

Founded in 1965, SAGE is the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. Known for our commitment to quality and innovation, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students across a broad range of subject areas. With over 900 employees globally from principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, and Washington DC, our publishing programme includes more than 560 journals and over 800 books, reference works and databases a year in business, humanities, social sciences, science, technology and medicine. Believing passionately that engaged scholarship lies at the heart of any healthy society and that education is intrinsically valuable, SAGE aims to be the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. This means playing a creative role in society by disseminating teaching and research on a global scale, the cornerstones of which are good, long-term relationships, a focus on our markets, and an ability to combine quality and innovation. Leading authors, editors and societies should feel that SAGE is their natural home: we believe in meeting the range of their needs, and in publishing the best of their work. We are a growing company, and our financial success comes from thinking creatively about our markets and actively responding to the needs of our customers.

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