Saru Jayaraman

Assistant Adjunct Professor of Public Policy

Saru Jayaraman

Areas of Expertise

  • Food Policy


Saru Jayaraman is the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United) and Director of the Food Labor Research Center at University of California, Berkeley. After 9/11, together with displaced World Trade Center workers, she co-founded ROC in New York, which has organized restaurant workers to win workplace justice campaigns, conduct research and policy work, partner with responsible restaurants, and launch cooperatively-owned restaurants. ROC now has 10,000 members in 19 cities nationwide. The story of Saru and her co-founder’s work founding ROC has been chronicled in the book The Accidental American.

Saru Jayaramanco-edited The New Urban Immigrant Workforce, (ME Sharpe, 2005). She is a graduate of Yale Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She was profiled in the NewYork Times “Public Lives” section in 2005, and was named one of Crain’s “40 Under 40” in 2008, 1010 Wins’ “Newsmaker of the Year,” and one of New York Magazine’s “Influentials” of New York City. She authored Behind the Kitchen Door, a groundbreaking exploration of the political, economic, and moral implications of dining out (from Cornell University Press, 2013). 

She is a lecturer at the Goldman School as part of the Berkeley Food Institute, a collaboration between GSPP, the College of Natural Resources, the School of Journalism and others.

Other Affiliations

  • Berkeley Food Institute
  • Food Labor Research Center, UC Berkeley
  • Restaurant Opportunities Centers United

Curriculum Vitae

Download a PDF (219KB, updated 09-24-2013)

Selected Publications

  • Behind the Kitchen Door

    Cornell University Press. 

    How do restaurant workers live on some of the lowest wages in America? And how do poor working conditions—discriminatory labor practices, exploitation, and unsanitary kitchens affect the meals that arrive at our restaurant tables? Food Labor Research Center director Saru Jayaraman sets out to answer these questions by following the lives of restaurant workers in eight American cities. Blending personal narrative and investigative journalism, her book is an exploration of the political, economic, and moral implications of dining out.

Wage Justice Is on the Menu

Wage Justice Is on the Menu

Saru Jayaraman, Mark Bittman

Date: July 28, 2015 Duration: 4 minutes

Behind the Kitchen Door: Wages and Conditions for Food System Workers

Behind the Kitchen Door: Wages and Conditions for Food System Workers

Saru Jayaraman

Event: Fall 2014 Board of Advisors Dinner

Date: October 23, 2014 Duration: 57 minutes

Minimum Wage Policy in California and the US: An Emerging Consensus Across Party Lines?

Minimum Wage Policy in California and the US: An Emerging Consensus Across Party Lines?

Saru Jayaraman, David Neumark, Ron Unz

Event: Cal Day 2014

Date: April 12, 2014 Duration: 128 minutes



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