What Do We Really Expose Ourselves To When Eating Out?

December 13, 2007

First there was Hell’s Kitchen. Did you ever watch that?

Now there is Kitchen Nightmares. Have you watched that? It is where Chef Ramsay basically takes over a real restaurant and yells at the owner(s) and chef(s) until he’s red in the face. Only to eventually break down whomever is standing in the way of progress and then Ramsay gets the job done. Well, I haven’t seen any follow-up shows, so who really knows if he gets the job done?

Both shows feature Chef Gordon Ramsay, probably a really nice guy as long as you never have to deal with anything food related with him.

Anyhow, to get to my point…

I’ve watched this show, Kitchen Nightmares, only twice thus far. Both kitchens in question were quite terribly disgusting. I mean Nasty!

Mostly it was in the walk-in refrigerator. Old containers with mold growing in them, some food decomposed beyond recognition. Water was dripping from a ceiling in one of the refrigerators! Simply nasty!

These two restaurants were pretty nice dining establishments. They both looked pretty nice in the dining area. And I imagine their prices were in the upper end of the average spectrum. Maybe they were considered 3-star? 4-star? I dunno.

Now I’ve always heard and believed that “if you knew what went on in the kitchen of a restaurant, you wouldn’t even eat there.” Or simply, “you don’t even want to know what goes on back there.” Watching Kitchen Nightmares, it certainly seems pretty bad.

These restaurant owners must have known they were going to be on TV, right? Didn’t they have to sign something in advance? And they still don’t clean things up before the camera crews get there? Are they forbidden to clean up via contract or something?

Anyhow, I’ve worked at McDonald’s years ago and I can honestly say the cleanliness of the McDonald’s I worked at was way better than these “dining establishments.” Food was rotated first-in first-out. Items beyond there expiration date were thrown out promptly. Everything was sanitized every night. Granted some employees may not have followed procedure to the T every time, and I even saw a few things that “you don’t want to know.” But it was not systemic and they were exceptions to the rule.

In these kitchens on TV it appears that it is normal to have mold gardens in the walk-in. Of course I’ve only watched two episodes, but I have a sneaky suspicion that most (non-fast-food, non-franchise) restaurants are like this.

Be that as it may, I do believe that society has become a bit overly sensitive to “cleanliness” issues and we have probably been eating at least semi-nasty or partially contaminated food since forever. However, how often do you get indigestion after eating out? Do you suppose a restaurant owner/manager would let you examine their walk-in refrigerator before you order?

Oh well, just thinking out loud.


Undercooked Pizza

October 27, 2007

I am of the opinion that most pizza, when ordered from the average pizza place, is undercooked and doughy, except for thin crust pizza.

But the run-of-the-mill pizza (“Eastern style” is it called? Anyhow, not thin crust and not Chicago style) with typical toppings (i.e. cheese, pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers, sausage, hamburger, onion, pineapple, jalapenos, black olives, etc.) is normally undercooked. I believe just about everyone has simply gotten used to the doughy undercooked pizza and now accept it as the way it is supposed to be. I, on the other hand, prefer my pizza thoroughly cooked, so I always order it “well-done” and viola! I get a pizza that is perfectly cooked, no doughy dough near the crust, a nice firm bottom (everyone likes a firm bottom don’t they?), and some of the cheese on top, or some of the toppings with a little tiny bit of crispiness on the higher elevated parts.

Also, why do people order cheesy bread with dipping sauce? Isn’t that basically the same as a cheese pizza?