My mom, husband and I went to a very nice hotel restaurant for lunch (the hotel is a 5 star hotel) and given the prices and the location you would think their employees would provide good customer service and maintain basic hygiene standards. Wrong. We all ordered the soup and bread option for our lunch and waited for the soup to arrive. I should mention here that the kitchen for this restaurant is completely open so you can see exactly what is going on at all times. Plus we were seated only about 10 feet from the kitchen so we had a good view. Anyway, our soup arrives and we try it and discover that it is lukewarm at best. None of us enjoys lukewarm soup so we contacted the waiter and said our soup was lukewarm and had it sent back. Now because we can clearly see into the kitchen we saw the soup arrive in the kitchen and the chef receive the soup. Now the chef didn’t seem to think that the soup was lukewarm as he used this opportunity to use his finger (not even a tasting spoon which is still gross) to check the temperature of the soup. Then he decides it is indeed lukewarm and puts the soup into the warning oven. Then the chef signals the waiter to bring our soup back to us with the added extra germs from his fingers still in the soup. We obviously weren’t happy and told the waiter we wouldn’t accept the soup under any conditions given what we saw go on in the kitchen. Now the manager of the restaurant was very good and did comp our soup and speak to the chef (given the open plan we heard the whole conversation) but the scary part was that the chef kept saying over and over that he was “just tasting the soup” and “didn’t see what the problem was”. If this was the way he checked all his entrees for taste and quality, you can see why we have never gone back to that restaurant again! 0430-12
Why would have a clean tasting spoon been gross? As long as the chef does not put it back in the soup or whatever other food he is tasting, using a clean spoon seems to be a good way of gaining information on the status of the returned dish.
I am a devoted follower of the “Top Chef” series and some of them do stick their pinky finger in dishes to taste test them. Not sure what I think of that considering the emphasis the judge chefs have on sanitation. Gordon Ramsey goes ballistic on chefs who use fingers to taste. When I have catered events in the past,I and my staff wore food service gloves when handling food and always used spoons to taste but then I am a food safety freak. In an open restaurant kitchen, it would seem to be unproductive to have chefs sticking fingers in food in full view of the patrons.