Where Is The Love

Despite loving food and cooking for all my life I find it very hard to eat out. I think it’s mostly a case of “ignorance IS bliss”. Having an in-depth , inside knowledge of commercial kitchens I know all to well that very few kitchens are meeting their responsibility regards hygiene and food handling practices. I know that would have most restaurant owners proclaiming an injustice, but I have found that in practice far too many kitchens and indeed head chefs just don’t get it right. Often its a case of ignorance rather than deliberate negligence but the result is the same. In the town I live in, I worked in three kitchens in 6 months and ended up leaving each one based on food and hygiene issues. Now all of these kitchens were well patronised venues and apart from the sailing club being mismanaged to death, are still operating. The sailing club head chef with 20 yrs time under his belt sent out six partially raw (cold to the touch inside) chicken breasts in one month, and then was ignorant enough to complain “well how raw are they” I told him “there is only one type of raw chicken, the deadly kind”. The kitchen had no organised cleaning regime and was that bad I refused to do lunch service one day until the kitchen was clean enough to cook in, the club manager had to come in and clean the stoves and grills as the head chef went home pissed off. I pointed the state of the kitchen out to the commodore of the sailing club who along with the rest of the committee ate out of the kitchen, his response was “yeah we cleaned all that in August”, this was January of the following year. Another kitchen, one of the towns busiest steak houses, while quite a bit cleaner and with some procedures in place was brought down by the lack of direction or control of the head chef. A guy who was stealing alcohol and drinking it while working. He got that bad that on a Sunday lunch service, our busiest day, I was cooking and he was running the pass and plating, I was tipping half a cup off water off the plates where he had just slapped salad leaves kept in chilled water on the plate. I told him to get his act together or get out of the kitchen, he burred up so I removed him from the kitchen. The same guy was microwaving $50+ wagyu steaks and lamb racks etc because he couldn’t manage more than a few plates at a time, typically we would do 150 – 200 covers on a Friday night so you can imagine the carnage when he was in control. I was head hunted out of that kitchen to one of the newest trendiest river side restaurants in town only to find the head chef there had the worst habits of all the others despite being paid 90K a year. Raw meat, chicken seafood in plastic bags sitting on the cold room floor under the shelves, open raw seafood in cartons stacked on prepped salads, stacks of defrosting seafood cartons all over the cold room floor, open containers of food, many unidentifiable. Many meals would go out with missing ingredients, half the menu was unavailable and the service was abysmal. Two days were all I needed there. I have since stopped cooking commercially, actually I was asked to apply for a sous chefs position at a very upmarket 5 star hotel kitchen yesterday so may look into that. They are currently completely stripping and rebuilding a new kitchen so who knows. There are a few good empty restaurants in town too, so perhaps that is the way to go, open my own place, anyone want to invest in restaurant? We actually went out to a restaurant the other night ( rare occurrence). It was an Italian place we had wanted to try for a while, While it was nice enough, I had a seafood risotto Paula had a marinara, my sister had a spaghetti dish and Brian my nephew had reef and beef, it was a little average for its price and location. I have to say that my risotto was pretty good and I would go back for it again, if only I could enter via the kitchen and reassure myself that they are doing the right thing.  Don’t be put off eating out, millions do it every day and survive. It actually takes a lot of neglect to poison some one with food, for me its more about knowing how your food has been handled and cared for…Where Is The Love? 

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