Muzzle not.....Employee meals are actually required by law. Check your local listing. Not to mention union rules. We just finished working a film shoot, and work rules require hot food every six hours. Bartenders in California.....same deal.
I have worked a lot of places…..going on 40 years in the biz. In my world, managers that stiff the employees a meal in the food business are lower than slime. The only quote I know from the bible is: “Muzzle not the ox that treadeth the corn.” (In the old days, the farmers brought their grain over to the millers; he had a big millstone that was turned by an ox. It was a poor farmer indeed who put a muzzle on his ox so he could not eat when he worked.
In OldSchool French houses the employee meal is an important management tool. We would work our asses off, throw pans, scream insults, vow eternal jihad, etc during service. Then everyone would sit down for a decent (well, these were French people….so whatever did not sell) meal, multi glasses of wine, and a rehash of the night. Venting...burying of hatchets..."closure." In truly advanced houses, the tips are pooled, and the tip breakdown takes place at the employee table. EVERYONE gets to see. Strong incentive to improve your work, skills, standing, etc.
In my American restaurants, the cooks were on their own. Eat or die, suckah. The girls….we always let order. I always kept a close watch on WHAT they ordered. They would combine sauces, ingredients, preparations that gave me clues to new dishes. When they came up with a winner, I would name it after the inventor, run it on the menu, and give her a bonus.
In my shop now we do mostly catering. The rule is eat and drink whenever you can….out of sight of the guests. Drink must not change your personality, unless of course your personality NEEDS changing. Anyone can eat anything, any time. Leftovers are fair game, but bring your own container…..and if you forget once to take your doggy bag, and we find it a week later in an ice chest….you are banned for life.
One night a week we do a regular restaurant meal at our kitchen for locals. After service, the employees eat at one table, and can order anything they can convince the exhausted cooks to fire up. I budget three bottles of Gruet champagne for the staff morale for the shift. Pints of Newcastle is a non-budget item.
This winter, we worked at the Highlands Inn for the Masters of Food and Wine. They have a full-time EDR (employee dining room). I am sure it is to some industry standard…somewhere. Sneeze shields on the salad bar, electric steam table, etc. It reminded me of camp in upstate New York. Mystery meat, sulfite soaked lettuces, burner-fried coffee, generic cola machine. Something about slicing 40 pounds of truffles for Andoni Aduriz, cranking 200 servings of hazlenut soya foam for the tatooed genius from wd-50, and peeling 200 pounds of sweetbreads for the plicks at Cinq in Paris……and going downstairs on break to some Rykoff “product” simmering at a perfect 140 degrees…. that puts you off your feed. The ice-cold milk machine was a plus......
You are what you eat after all.