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Chefs' Honesty in Ingredients, Products, and Smoke & Mirrors

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

Hi - I'm new to ChefTalk, and I have something to get off my chest. I worked in a well known Italian restaurant in Vancouver, BC known for best Italian fine dining, local magazine awards, DiRONA awards etc etc etc.  

 

I have seen SO MANY things that the chef (and owner) does that would not consider as honest, or even ethical. How common is this? A lot of customers' reviews acknowledge the prices are astronomical, but they love the food. Food critics kiss his ass, and constantly ask his opinion on industry news etc.  Would people care that they're being ripped off and/or lied to? or they're just swept up in the service, the wine, and the atmosphere??

 

Here are just a few of the things I have seen, the worst category being Proteins. 

 

Veg

Conventional produce as Organic

Chicken stock for vegetarians (they won't know)

 

Meats & Seafood

 

Scallop roe sacs as Uni

Lobster (fzn) as Icelandic Scampi

Prime beef as Wagyu ** consider the price difference

Pork as Veal * sold to Muslims, Jews

Beef as Veal 

Duck as Oxtail

Lobster ravioli with every seafood but Lobster

Old seafood

 

Others:

Home made charcuterie which is overly salty, not cured properly, contains mold

Brown sugar as Maple, there is no maple in maple syrup ice cream, creme brulee

Condensed milk dulce leche as Maple

Using pork fat in cannoli, denying it

Expired 36% cream used to make creme fraiche, and serving it

Overaged and Rancid cheeses

Costco frozen appetizers for canape parties (smoke salmon puff pastries, quiches, chimichangas!?)

 

Making his own gluten free bread - not considering severity of some allergies, cross contamination etc.

"they're not really allergic, they're full of BS"

 

That's just for starters.  Opinions? 

post #2 of 21

Not only is it unethical, it is illegal and he should be reported or pushed down an up escalator.

 

It is our ethical responsibility and legal obligation to adhere to the ingredients and dishes we list on our menus.  If you are a chef that likes to throw terms around loosely or be "-ish" or "-esque" about some things, then your wait staff needs to be properly trained and inform the guest about what they are really getting.  You can't slap a bow tie on a Yugo and call it a Chevrolet.

post #3 of 21
I'm sure it may happen in some rare instances, but I've never seen or hear of this first hand
post #4 of 21
Thread Starter 

" Not only is it unethical, it is illegal and he should be reported or pushed down an up escalator." 

 

 

   I feel the same way, and that doesn't even go into the way he treats staff + managers. Is there any governing body to protect customers from chefs' use and abuse of their trust? People are still willfully paying for dinner, entrusting their wallets and taste to a 'great' chef who will 'cook' for you off the menu. He frequents the dining room and talks to guests personally so they feel they are getting some sort of VIP treatment. Servers are constantly left in the dark regarding food + preparation methods, and he justifies this by pooling tips and selling big wines. Great waiters or not, they are reduced to order-takers and are belittled when too many questions are asked. 

 

  He does not deserve all the accolades he receives, and unfortunately the restaurant business is not regulated or protected, for customers, employees. 

post #5 of 21

Start looking for a new job. You have now learned some things you should never do. You can't change him as he is quite obviously getting away with it. So it's been a learning experience but it's now time to move on. 

On a more philosophical note, this guy is a great example of how many different kinds of chefs there are and that appearances don't always tell the whole story. I've met a few like him in my time and I'm glad that time is past. There are chefs who do it right. I hope you end up with one of them. 

post #6 of 21
I've been there. You know you want to bail. Pick your shots, and plan an escape. The thing is, you are not the only guy disgusted by this chef. Where ever you are, there are others that have seen this crap. Real cooks will resent this guy. Get in with them.

Al
post #7 of 21

Hey!!!

That sounds like my 'ol boss Umberto!!

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #8 of 21

Look around for something else or pretty soon your name will be in the local paper with yours. It's only a matter of time till they are unearthed.  As far as Pork for veal I know of many places that doo this. There was a busy place here in Palm Beach and the inside local joke was a vealer or calf never saw the inside of the place but pigs did. Her never got caught .

CHEFED
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CHEFED
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post #9 of 21

Unless you have an opportunity to take over and run the show, it would be best to get out of there before the shtf. Before I took over the kitchen where I'm currently working, things like this were common. Chicken broth used in vegetarian soups; margarine instead of butter; etc..It took some time, but eventually I was able to make the changes necessary so there was nothing to hide.

post #10 of 21

That f***er needs to be reported! Allergens True or False. I had a very close friend who died because one of the "secret ingredients " was Peanut Butter. In less than 10 mins. Nothing we could do. Note: This was prior to mandate to list all allergens on the menu.  Prov. R.I.

post #11 of 21

Notify the FDA.  They will take him down

post #12 of 21

He's in Canada.

post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by henny penny View Post

" Not only is it unethical, it is illegal and he should be reported or pushed down an up escalator." 

 

 

   I feel the same way, and that doesn't even go into the way he treats staff + managers. Is there any governing body to protect customers from chefs' use and abuse of their trust? People are still willfully paying for dinner, entrusting their wallets and taste to a 'great' chef who will 'cook' for you off the menu. He frequents the dining room and talks to guests personally so they feel they are getting some sort of VIP treatment. Servers are constantly left in the dark regarding food + preparation methods, and he justifies this by pooling tips and selling big wines. Great waiters or not, they are reduced to order-takers and are belittled when too many questions are asked. 

 

  He does not deserve all the accolades he receives, and unfortunately the restaurant business is not regulated or protected, for customers, employees. 

Dear henny, Yes, indeed there ARE regulators who monitor these types of instances! (now weather in Canada or the U.S., they do exist)  This Schister is probobley  taking advantage of some loopholes but the customer HAS to be protected from these types of "mislabeling" . And I use that term loosely. As a Professional Chef and Culinary Instructor, it infuriates me to here of such unethical practices. I agree  with Chef Buchanan. This guy WILL be exposed and when it hits the news, you most certainly don't want your good name and our profession to be associated with this!  Try to get out of there if you can and start "Blowing Whistles" Good Luck"  Harrisburg,PA.

post #14 of 21

Pino is such a piece of crap, just get out and move on. It'll catch up with him for sure.

post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by garball View Post

Not only is it unethical, it is illegal and he should be reported or pushed down an up escalator.

 

 

I notice you are also in Austin, so I actually have a couple of questions about exactly what I have quoted.   I have heard from several people that the truth in labeling laws here are severely lacking.  I have been told there are loopholes, and if a restaurant has less than three locations the same strict labeling guidelines don't apply, and that some places are mislabeling things like fish with no fear of legal repercussion because of the way the truth in labeling laws work. (No, I have not worked at any place that actually does this, but I have heard that it is the way the law is written)

post #16 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Twyst View Post

I notice you are also in Austin, so I actually have a couple of questions about exactly what I have quoted.   I have heard from several people that the truth in labeling laws here are severely lacking.  I have been told there are loopholes, and if a restaurant has less than three locations the same strict labeling guidelines don't apply, and that some places are mislabeling things like fish with no fear of legal repercussion because of the way the truth in labeling laws work. (No, I have not worked at any place that actually does this, but I have heard that it is the way the law is written)

Legal means within the letter of the law. That does not necessarily mean honest or ethical.

 

For me, ethical means doing what is RIGHT when no one is looking.

 

Honest means telling the truth.

 

Once again, two words, two meanings.

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #17 of 21

Hospitality laws, namely Truth-in-Menu laws, are federally regulated.  It is not up to local governments to decide.  There are some grey areas concerning descriptions; e.g. French Onion Soup does not have to be made in France, nor does New England Clam Chowder have to come from a blue state; they are, instead, cooking methods.  However, quantity, quality, cooking styles, and ingredients are strictly regulated.  I do not know who exactly to contact.  My best guess would be the FDA, USDA, of local departments of Health and Human Services

post #18 of 21

just moved from texas and there are no truth and menu laws that can be upheld unless someone reports an illness.

post #19 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all your input.

 

I don't think there much can be done unless if somebody reports an illness. That can be difficult to base anything on as it is hard to trace one or two incidences, unless if there is severe epidemic. Plus cleanliness and food borne illness not really a factor b/c he is particularly anal about stuff like that. Unless if somebody eats a dish that he's also 'tasted' hand to mouth from, or picked his nose... 

 

Update however, I am since a free agent, unemployed - but feel 100% better about not working in a place like that. I hope karma comes back to haunt him because all this bullshit and lying can only carry on so long. Diners are increasingly more educated, hopefully less will be fooled by douchebags that take them for a ride. 

 

 

However, I have a lot of time on my hands now to read up and research online...  

 

Henny


Edited by henny penny - 1/23/13 at 1:46pm
post #20 of 21

He might be able to slip through the cracks "legally" but I wonder what would happen if someone, whose religious beliefs forbid eating pork, found out he knowingly switch pork for veal and still passed it off as veal.  Sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen.

post #21 of 21
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