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Call them out or Never go Back

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

So,  There is this Mexican place that I love.  They have some of the best food I have ever tasted and have been in business for a little over a year.  I would literally eat there 3-4 times a week for lunch.  Word caught on and the place became a mob scene with a near constant line out the door.  I have no problem with that and I am happy for them, but there comes unintended negative consequences.

 

When it first opened, it was family run.  They have a semi-open kitchen and from what I could see, maintained safe handling and sanitation practices.  However, with the business booming, they hired a lot of new people.  The other day when I was there, I observed a cook put raw poultry and beef in marinade on the grill without changing gloves between types of meat.  Then proceeded to go through the entry door still wearing the gloves covered in raw protein marinade liquid.  Go into the walk-in (still wearing same gloves)  Come out with stacked hotel pans or more raw meat in marinade,  go back through door, and started putting more meat on grill while still wearing same gloves.  I was horrified.

 

Here is my dilemma.  Do I call him out to the owners?  or Do I just never go there again?  One hesitation is that the owners do not speak English that well and my Spanish is OK, but not great.

post #2 of 20

Copy and paste! Dear Health inspector. I would call the health inspector in a heartbeat. You could be saving a lot of people hardship if someone gets sick. The story you just told tells there isn't a drop of training in the kitchen. It's time they learned! If you wouldn't put up with it in your kitchen don't put up with it in someones else's.........ChefBillyB


Edited by ChefBillyB - 1/6/17 at 9:18am
post #3 of 20

If I observe what I believe to be unsafe practices or conditions, I would contact the health department with the information as they are in the business of education and enforcement.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #4 of 20

Does professional courtesy exist within food service?

 

I'd find the owner/manager, and explain to them what you saw. Let them know you are a certified chef, and mean no disrespect. Tell them how much you love the food, and wish them continued success. The last thing you want to do is shut them down.

 

Give them a chance to correct before sending in the dogs? If they don't respond, then you call the health inspector and find another restaurant to have lunch. 


Edited by jake t buds - 1/6/17 at 4:28pm
post #5 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by jake t buds View Post
 

Does professional courtesy exist with food service?

 

I'd find the owner, and explain to him what you saw. Let them know you are a certified chef, and mean no disrespect. Tell them how much you love the food, and wish them continued success. The last thing you want to do is shut them down.

 

Give them a chance to correct before sending in the dogs? If they don't respond, then you call the health inspector and find another restaurant to have lunch. 


Calling the health dept is professional courtesy. You are calling a professional to teach the novices how to operate a restaurant without killing people in the process. This is much better than the health dept coming in after the hospital calls with 20 people getting Salmonella poisoning. I guess it's just a matter of how long you want the health dept to be notified. The keywords are " The owners don't speak English" 

post #6 of 20

Health department.

Otherwise the one? person who did this will get a slap on the hand and go back to his nasty habits in a heartbeat.

Plus who knows what is happening when you aren't there.

That owner has skin in the game .... and will do more than smile and nod his head if he hears if from someone in a suit speaking his language and holding a clipboard.

 

mimi

post #7 of 20
Have to call the health dept.. They can issue fines or shut down and therefor be taken seriously.

As others have pointed out, a Chef or someone from the industry won't be taken seriously.

D.a.m.h.I.k.t.......
...."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 20

I would go with Jake's suggestion and if you see no changes, you can still call the health department

Life is too short to drink bad wine
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Life is too short to drink bad wine
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post #9 of 20
How long did you want to wait before you see no changes?
...."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 #10 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by flipflopgirl View Post
 

Health department.

Otherwise the one? person who did this will get a slap on the hand and go back to his nasty habits in a heartbeat.

Plus who knows what is happening when you aren't there.

That owner has skin in the game .... and will do more than smile and nod his head if he hears if from someone in a suit speaking his language and holding a clipboard.

 

mimi

How true..... The cross contamination issue was only one thing. Who knows what else is going on back there.

post #11 of 20

Health department.  This needs fixing yesterday.

post #12 of 20

I know many chefs on this site have had some conflicts with the health dept over the years. I always had a great relationship with many inspectors in lots of restaurants. In many cases I had inspectors calling me asking a question about a certain way to handle a food item. I may not have needed a lot of inspections in my kitchens but, I have seen many other kitchens in my town I wouldn't even set foot in. Calling the health dept on someone isn't going to close them down. What it will do is, keep the restaurant in a better place without potentially getting anyone sick. This isn't like not liking the way your neighbor does things at his backyard BBQ. This restaurant is serving the public and we have the right to make sure the restaurant is serving our families in a safe manner.....To the OP?  did you check and see what the restaurant score was on the last inspection. I know in my city the health dept restaurant inspections are listed in the Monday newspaper. The inspections I always see with the worst scores are in most cases ethnic style restaurants. I feel this is because in other countries the health laws aren't even close to having the standards we do in America.

post #13 of 20

I'm with @ChefBillyB 's thinking. Have always had very good relations with inspectors. Not smoke blowing, but check everything out to make sure I'm not missing or unaware anything.

 I look at a health inspector just as another co-worker. (high paid where I am) $200.00+ per visit with 2 annual required. 

I found a good relationship makes a back-and-forth much easier. One newbie inspector, "your rag buckets go on the floor". Really?. "yes, because if it gets tipped over it might contaminate food."

The next visit was from my regular inspector. "um, why the hell are your rag buckets on the floor?"

  As with any government agency, there are established guidelines put forth. The gray area grows with the local and individual interpretation. 

OP?

I have to side with, contact health department. In a proactive way, not a complaint. Our country's attitude on complaints has transitioned from "let's work to prevent a negative event". to "let's work on having a response, should a negative event happen".

 Language also contributes to my advice. 

Where I am, the predators have moved into the Health Department's required education/training classes. They offer non-English classes. The concentration is to memorize testing answers for a couple of rotating tests. Not offering any education on the question itself. Now, with the test given online, they provide a location, and walk people through the test. This all may have changed, not sure.

FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #14 of 20

ChefBillyB and panini, while you may be right, this is a situation that is very common throughout the restaurant and food service industry.

 

While the Chef might teach food safety and sanitation to his crew, and a FOH manager would do the same with respect to service, I find that not everyone is on board all the time.

 

If I tried to do that in the small community where I live, there'd be no place to dine out.

 

The waitress who doesn't wash her hands after a smoke

The cook who uses gloves while handling non-food items

The list goes on.......

 

I agree that calling the health department would be a last resort if you did not receive an acknowledgment from management that they would remedy the problem.

post #15 of 20

@Chefross,

  After reading, I may agree with your point.

I failed to mention that I have a relationship with a few health inspectors. Some mutlilingual. I have the availability to call them. Which I've done.

   I personally would probably think twice before filing a report with the department in general. I've encountered some inspectors who seem to have specific attitudes or agendas.

Especially being a food business owner. 

  I wouldn't choose, not to go back. I would probably try to communicate with the owner. Not managers or employees, which I've done.

FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #16 of 20
Thread Starter 

Thank you everyone for the responses.  It really got through to me that just leaving it be and letting it become someone else's problem is not a responsible way to handle it.  The points made about getting people very ill struck a chord with me.  I am still tossed between talking to owner (I do have a decent level of Spanish) and calling health department.  I have always had good relations with the health inspectors in the area when I was still in the industry.  For the most part they are good people.  With the places I ran, the inspections were more of a friendly visit than a dreaded intrusion as I run a tight ship and always got a clean bill of health.  Like I imagine all of us here, we take safe food handling very seriously.  I am very picky about where I choose to dine.  

 

 @ChefBillyB - I read the health inspection reports like it's my job.  They don't give grades here like they do out west, but they list all violations and corrective actions.  The place in question was always pretty good aside from the minor things that happen a lot of places.  Their last two inspections, not so much.

 

I will do one of the two Monday morning and fill you all in on how it went.  Thanks again  Cheers.

post #17 of 20
Thread Starter 
I called board of health. I wish them the best. They made some of the best food I've ever eaten, and that is a true statement.
post #18 of 20

 Well- don't keep us in suspense...

 

   WHAT HAPPENED?

 

Mike

travelling gourmand
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travelling gourmand
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post #19 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeLM View Post
 

 Well- don't keep us in suspense...

 

   WHAT HAPPENED?

 

Mike


Not sure yet.  The Health Department thanked me for my information and said they would look into it.  I have not gone back to the place yet and have yet to see a new Health Inspection report on the Health Department page for the place.  When I do, I'll go back and let you know.  I'm sure they are wondering where I am since I went there almost every weekday for a year. 

post #20 of 20
Thread Starter 

UPDATE:.  Staff has been overhauled. The main culprit was terminated along with a few others.  Seems to be running much better.  Everything is on the up and up and the line of customers goes out the door again.  Very happy to have my favorite place back as an option.

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