Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Hygiene Courses in Hell

So we go to this hygiene course for a bit of a health inspector prompted refresher. Welcome to the tick-box, brain-dead lunacy that is the world of modern kitchen hygiene. Fellow course members are interesting: there are no other professional chefs just people who feel obliged to get a hygiene certificate. My favourite is the couple of women PTA committee members who wanted to run a barbeque for fund-raising. Later on they admitted that they wouldn't even be doing the barbeque themselves.

Our lecturer regales us with stories of the horror of chef behaviour. All those disgusting things we do with food. Odd thing, even she admits it's the butchers that seem to kill people, and the factories that put foreign objects in their food. I know there are serious problems with rice and seafood, but I struggle to believe the horror stories of chefs deliberately mucking up their food. Chefs are in the business of trying to give pleasure with their food.

The myth goes that if you return your food to the chef s/he adds some form of bodily fluid before it comes back out. Our trainer refused to eat out anymore because of the “risk.” In a restaurant most food is returned because the customer thinks it's 'undercooked'. A bit of pinkness in the meat or opaqueness in the fish and back it comes. It's not uncommon for the disgruntled chef to sling it on the solid top or in the deepfryer, but that's about the limit for abuse of food. And besides, that type of customer tends to love their deepfried steak.

A customer asked the chefs once on the best cooking time for a scallop. Is it three or five minutes? We depressed her by saying we felt the best cooking time was 0 – serve the scallop raw and you have the best flavour. You need a really fresh scallop but it will taste so good. A touch of lemon or lime juice and a pinch of seasoning and there you are. Sixty three degrees may be dangerous for food, but it's a perfectly pink piece of lamb.

Sod the regulations. Get good fresh ingredients and get the real taste.

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