Keeping It Clean

sanitary-inspection-gradeNothing instills fear in the hearts of restaurant workers more than a visit from the health department.  A failed inspection can be a death knell for even the most popular restaurant.  In today’s world, it’s become a highly politicized process and—if you want to pass the test—you have to be prepared.  Waitstaff and kitchen employees typically have a “fire drill” in place for when an inspector arrives.  For the front-of-house this involves discarding anything that may trigger a deduction—wet rags that are used to crumb tables, fruit garnishes for cocktails, or any containers that aren’t labelled and dated.  Meanwhile back-of-house scrambles to put on latex gloves and chef’s hats even though most of them weren’t properly outfitted when the inspector arrived.  During the inspection, service grinds to a halt as the entire staff walks on eggshells to avoid missteps.  Continuing to cook food only increases your chances of a violation, so the chefs lay down their knives.  Oblivious diners stuck waiting for their food can only snack on our apologies until it’s over.  The moment the inspector leaves, we put everything back where we need it to be: hats and gloves off, fruit garnishes exposed to the elements, and crumbing rags moist and ready.  We know better than the Health Department what makes restaurants work properly and—while we respect their authority—everything runs so much better when they’re not around.

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