Tallulah Posted 5 Jan 2009 , 4:46pm
post #1 of

Okay, I had no idea where to post this so I'm posting here....

I now have to relive this experience, so bear with me. In all fairness I have to say I'm a germ-a-phobe. I'm the type that washes fruit and veggies with soap, cleans her bathroom with a toothbrush and has separate cleaning towels for everything. I even wash them separately.

That said, I'm a Pastry Chef who has to complete an internship at a bakery. I chose this particular bakery because its been in business for a great number of years, the staff seemed nice and it was close to home.

BIG MISTAKE! The first 10 minutes set the tone for what was to be the most terrible experience EVER!

I had to fill tarts. I was asked to get some raspberries out of the fridge. I get my rasberries out, I am ready to wash them, and I'm told, no don't wash them. I was then told to please "ask questions" before doing anything. For using common sense??!! icon_eek.gif

Against my will I had to put these raspberries, possibily full of pesticides and gosh knows what else on these tarts. I was then told to get some strawberries and blueberries out of the fridge. Again, no washing involved. Well, the same person who told me to "ask questions", takes a knife she was using on something else (can you say, cross contamination, folks?), and starts cutting these strawberries and places them on tarts.

She then opens the blueberry packaging. Some blueberries fall on the floor, she picks them up and puts them right on the tart!!!

I thought I was going to faint! That wasn't the worst of it! There's more but I don't want to gross you guys out. The kitchen itself was dirty and no matter how many times I said to myself, "When in Rome..." I just could not take it.

Now I am forced to ask the hard question, what if this is the industry standard? I clearly have to choose another site - But how will the germ-a-phobe in me survive? icon_cry.gif

127 replies
muddpuppy Posted 5 Jan 2009 , 4:51pm
post #2 of

That is SOOOOOO Not the standard!!! It can't be!!!I'm sorry for you crappy experience... Maybe you should report them!!

kelleym Posted 5 Jan 2009 , 4:57pm
post #3 of

I temporarily tried to run my cake business from a licensed and legal restaurant. It was sooo horribly dirty and gross. The floor in the kitchen was constantly slick from grease. When I mixed batter in their 20 qt mixers, black "gunk" would fall off the mixer into my batter (that day I went home and cried).

One time, the owner's wife was mixing up some egg salad for a catering. She stuck her finger in the bowl she was mixing it in, and then licked it off to taste it, then offered the bowl to her daughter. The daughter did the same thing. Then she offered it to me, she wanted me to give my opinion. I looked desperately around for a clean spoon. When she saw me hesitating, she snapped, "oh, just stick your finger in there, Kelley, no one cares!" icon_eek.gif

Licensed and legal doesn't mean squat. The only way to make sure if it's clean is if you're the boss.

Tallulah Posted 5 Jan 2009 , 5:17pm
post #4 of

Oh kelleym that is soo gross! I'm sorry you had to go through that.

I just don't understand. It doesn't take long to get a spoon. I've seen people do that time and time again and it never fails to gross me out!

I used to have spoons ready in school because if I saw someone put their finger in my bowl I wouldn't eat the finished product.

costumeczar Posted 5 Jan 2009 , 5:18pm
post #5 of

I once took a class at a local bakery, and it had the filthiest kitchen I've ever seen. My friend went in there to wash her hands, and I passed her on the way out as she warned me to not touch anything in there! The double sink was full of dirty, greasy water on both sides, and there was stuff everywhere. The place hadn't been cleaned in God knows how long. The worst was when I went into the bathroom, and saw that they hadn't cleaned that in a year either, and they also had baking supplies (bags of mix, etc) and other things that they sold in the retail part of the shop stored on shelves and on the floor in there. It kills me to know that people actually pay for cakes from that shop...If they asked to see the kitchen before they paid they'd run screaming!

There's another bakery here that has a reputation of being filthy, too, but I've never seen that one for myself. My "sources" say that the guy who decorates the cakes smokes while he does it and that he regularly knocks ashes out of the ashtray all over the counter where he's working.

costumeczar Posted 5 Jan 2009 , 5:21pm
post #6 of

Oh, I forgot another one...One of the other students in my pastry class said that this happened while he was working for the chef in the Harvard Univ. faculty kitchen (this was years ago, so it's probably not the same person who's there now, by the way.) The chef was showing him how to do something with the pastry bag, and in between squeezes he would lick the tip to clean it off! Squeeze, lick, squeeze, lick, squeeze, lick...Pastry, anyone?

Win Posted 5 Jan 2009 , 5:26pm
post #7 of

Tallulah, yuck! I feel so bad for you. I am somewhat of a germ-a-phobe myself and know a lot of people are sooo cavalier about cross contamination; but what you witnessed is wrong on every level. If you can, walk away. They need to be reported, but in reality, do you want to be the one who does it? Would they not put two and two together? Maybe not, it seems they lack a little in the common sense department...

Tallulah Posted 5 Jan 2009 , 5:30pm
post #8 of

OMG! So gross! Where is the "vomit" emoticon when you need it?!

My belief is you treat your customers like you treat your mom. Would you serve your mom something you picked up off the floor!? I wouldn't!

Licking a bowl is the same as (sorry) spitting in someone's food. I wouldn't spit in my mom's cupcake before handing it to her.

jenstastycakes Posted 5 Jan 2009 , 5:32pm
post #9 of

Where's Gordan Ramsey "Kitchen Nightmares" when you need him?

Auryn Posted 5 Jan 2009 , 5:35pm

omg
im not a germaphobe but that would totally kill me.
You say its an internship- is it through your culinary school?? if so you should have an advisor for this internship- I would definitely say something to the advisor about it.

Geez,
the more of these stories I read the more convinced I am that I will just eat at home.

TC123 Posted 5 Jan 2009 , 5:36pm

That awful! I sometimes wonder what goes on "behind the scenes" at food prep/service establishments. (And yes, I've seen those "chef revenge" shows on television. Yuk!)

Don't worry, I know you'll find a place in which you can be comfortable working. Keep looking ~ and good luck! icon_smile.gif

Tallulah Posted 5 Jan 2009 , 5:41pm

That's the problem, you don't want to be the one who reports them. Especially if they have been in business for so many years.

You start to wonder, how many times has someone gotten sick? If so, would they be able to pinpoint where?

Would they just blame it on the sandwich they had for lunch and not the cupcake they had for dessert?

Food for thought: Where is the Health Department? How often do they visit? Why does this go unnoticed?!

"Sigh"

michellesArt Posted 5 Jan 2009 , 5:47pm

and people wonder why you might rather bake from home than have to deal with someone else's mess-my home is my castle and my restaurant/bakery would be even cleaner!!

MikeRowesHunny Posted 5 Jan 2009 , 5:55pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallulah



Food for thought: Where is the Health Department? How often do they visit? Why does this go unnoticed?!

"Sigh"




Probably too busy busting Jenny Homebaker (of which I am proud to be one!), who does have a very clean kitchen & working practices but isn't allowed to bake there! icon_rolleyes.gif

leaisagary Posted 5 Jan 2009 , 6:03pm

I agree that most of that story is really gross I just always see two sides okay so first washing fruits and vegetables with water or soap makes no difference then if you left them full of pestecidesbecause the only thing that can take off most of the pestecides is to use a specific produce cleaner and just curious what did she cut with that knife? if it was fruit or vegatables it was probably fine, now on the other hand dropping the berries on the floor, absolutly disgusting, and I am not saying I dont believe you cause I have worked mostly as a waitress and I see people do gross stuff all the time, when I worked at applebees all of the servers used to pick food off of the plates like fries and stuff them in their mouth and proceed to do it again and of course not washing their hands

leaisagary Posted 5 Jan 2009 , 6:03pm

I agree that most of that story is really gross I just always see two sides okay so first washing fruits and vegetables with water or soap makes no difference then if you left them full of pestecidesbecause the only thing that can take off most of the pestecides is to use a specific produce cleaner and just curious what did she cut with that knife? if it was fruit or vegatables it was probably fine, now on the other hand dropping the berries on the floor, absolutly disgusting, and I am not saying I dont believe you cause I have worked mostly as a waitress and I see people do gross stuff all the time, when I worked at applebees all of the servers used to pick food off of the plates like fries and stuff them in their mouth and proceed to do it again and of course not washing their hands

__Jamie__ Posted 5 Jan 2009 , 6:05pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallulah

Licking a bowl is the same as (sorry) spitting in someone's food. I wouldn't spit in my mom's cupcake before handing it to her.




Gross, but SO true!

Galler Posted 5 Jan 2009 , 6:06pm

Having worked in a restaurant for quite a few years (which turned me into the germ-a-phobe BTW). Unwashed fruit and tasting with the finger is nothing compared to some of the stuff I have seen! Let's just say NEVER EVER send your food back to the kitchen...NEVER! Better to starve and get it taken off your bill...did I say NEVER! NEVER!

That being said...I would find some where else to work. You are there to learn and get experience right? So don't learn from some one who can't even grasp the common sense of washing fruit. I think it will be a waste of your time.

rlowry03 Posted 5 Jan 2009 , 6:07pm

You know how people say if you ever worked in a restaurant you'd never want to eat there... SO TRUE! I worked for about a month at a grocery store bakery. While the work area was clean, the fruit they used was DISGUSTING. Again, nothing got washed. They used berries that had mold and the limes that were cut up and used as garnish were often well past expired. I just hope no one ate the garnish!

And I once saw the decorator stick her hand down in the giant vat of frosting to the wrist! Ewww.

cakesdivine Posted 6 Jan 2009 , 12:49am

Unfortunately, I was told by the Health dept. that they are more concerned with food temps and food storage than cleanliness of a food establishment.

Sorry all fruit gets washed you just dry the berries well and carefully as to not damage them. If something hits the floor it goes in the trash! And if you need to taste a product use a clean utensil!

Report them...you can do so anonymously.

kelleym Posted 6 Jan 2009 , 1:00am
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakesdivine

Unfortunately, I was told by the Health dept. that they are more concerned with food temps and food storage than cleanliness of a food establishment.




I have the same information from my county's Health Dept. In fact, it's right there on their web site:

Quote:
Quote:

During an inspection, demerits are given for any deficiencies in the acquisition, storage, handling, and preparation of food found during the inspection. Demerits are not given for items such as dirty floors and walls.




icon_confused.gif

summernoelle Posted 6 Jan 2009 , 5:57am

I worked in a "nice" restaurant when I was in high school, and it was so gosh darn disgusting, I couldn't believe it. When they were slammed, there were things like mashed potatoes, meat, gravy, butter, all over the floor, the waiters stepping in it, yuck! The silverware was hardly washed-put in a big bin and then hosed off by an illegal worker with a hose. Seriously, a garden hose hooked up to the sink. No soap. Vomit.
I think I've told this story before, but one of the "chefs" scooped ice cream out of the carton with his HAND, and left fingerprints on the scoop of ice cream in the bowl and expected a server to serve it to the customer like that.

Shannie13 Posted 6 Jan 2009 , 6:43am

I must say that there is one reason I love living in Toronto. The health dept is so thorough when they go through the kitchens of restaurants and bakeries..actually anywhere food is made. I have seen the list of things they check for and I think it is a count of about 402 or something like that.

I would definitely ask/demand to be put into another work placement. How are you supposed to enjoy yourself and your school if you are made to do things that are just wrong. Not all kitchens are as immaculate as the ones we keep at home but come on....common sense is definitely important.

Good luck hun, sounds like you may need it.

Bonnie151 Posted 6 Jan 2009 , 6:50am

When I did my food hygiene course the instructor told us to always destroy any food we left on our plates at restaurants because he'd seen far too many places just replate people's left overs. Yuck! That course was enough to put me off ever eating out!

Tallulah Posted 6 Jan 2009 , 2:44pm

I can't believe that is what the Health Department bases their judgement on. I completely understand that storage, handling and prep of food are important, but I think of it this way:

If you go to a friend's house and her stove has layers of grease on it, her fridge still has that dried up juice stain from last week and her dishes still have gunk of them, would you eat there? I know I wouldn't!

Cleanliness of an establishment is just as important as the handling of the food. It is your first impression.

Again, "sigh"

In other news, I told my advisor I would not be returning to that site based on what I saw (this will haunt my dreams for years to come).

They were really understanding and were even glad I told them. They will no longer suggest that site to students going forward.

nickshalfpint Posted 6 Jan 2009 , 3:01pm

I was lucky. The bakery I used to work at was soooooo clean. They were super picky about cleaning and not cross contaminating anything. They were particular about how you wore your hair, and if you had animals to please keep your work clothes away from them (the animals). They didn't want anything getting into or on the cakes that shouldn't be there.

eldag0615 Posted 6 Jan 2009 , 3:14pm

In my comunity there is a local TV News station that goes with a Health Dept. Inspector to establishments when they least expect it, and inspect their kitchens. Then once a week they ANNOUNCE it on the news, their news, and show pic. of the place and show the list of how many demerits that particular restaurant got and why. They check like 4 or 5 every week and then they also announce the name and interview the ones that have NO demerits, and place a big Award sticker on a visible place for all to see. When you see the cockroaches going everywhere in their kitchens, the food on the floor, mice droppings, etc on TV, it's DISGUSTING, by next week they anounce that they already "fixed" everything and are up to date with Health Department. Anyway, who wants to eat there anymore? thumbsdown.gif I have never seen them check bakeries. Maybe I will give them a call and ask them. icon_smile.gif

Tallulah Posted 6 Jan 2009 , 3:17pm

That is the way it should be nickshalfpint! Half the staff wasn't wearing something on their head and I thought it was a standard!

angelcakes5 Posted 6 Jan 2009 , 3:21pm

I worked in a restuarant during HS and they were super clean. I started out as a dishwasher, then moved to waitressing and cooking. We were told if it was a slow time to clean and thats what we did. The place was always spotless. Another woman I know who use to own a restaurant said when she walks into a restaurant she goes to the bathroom. If the bathroom is not clean then the kitchen probably isnt either. And she wouldnt eat there.

melvin01 Posted 6 Jan 2009 , 3:32pm

Since this is a bit in line with some of the other comments, this is one that gets to me. I love to watch cooking shows, but ewww, people who use the spoon they are stirring something with to taste the product, then plop it right back in to stir it some more.

TOTALLY gross. There are many hot chefs that do this (some who don't), but it always amazes me when I watch a cooking show and see this. I think they should know better, especially if they have their own restaurants.

Just my two cents.

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