To me, The Rotten Food Cookbook contains recipes that are designed to be “over the top” and extreme, but at the recent Fine Food trade show I was repeatedly told that the book reflects worst practice quite accurately.
What blew me away, however, was the recent opportunity to watch someone prepare their own version of Chicken Seizure Salad right in front of me as I was ordering.
Before reading on you may want to check out the recipe for Chicken Seizure Salad.
Here is how it all went down…
I was at a cafe that for legal reasons I won’t name. As I was ordering I watched the cook – and I use the term lightly because I am not sure that wearing a white uniform automatically qualifies you as a cook. He looked the part and I am sure that he has convinced many that he is capable of running a kitchen. But I digress.
As I was ordering I watched the cook cut up meat with his bare hands. Technically he was cutting it up with a knife, but he was moving it around with his hands. The point is, his bare hands were now covered with “meat juice”. He then picked up the meat with his hands and dropped it onto the hot plate. At this stage he has started down the path of my Chicken Seizure Salad.
His dirty hands were obviously an issue so he turned around and wiped his hand on a cloth that was on the bench top, and then dropped it back there. I don’t know what that cloth was used for before, but I do know it was a scrunched up cloth sitting on a bench top. I also know that it finished up as a scrunched up cloth sitting on a bench top. It didn’t finish up in the bin, it didn’t finish up where it could not be used by the other staff, it did not finish up in the sink.
What I don’t know is if that cloth had been used for the same purpose a dozen times and was a festering fun park of bacterial buddies, or just a mildly contaminated cloth, but I do know his hands weren’t washed, and that cloth was no longer fit for purpose.
This guy had even taken my recipe a step further. I never contemplated how it was possible to cross-contaminate as many other dishes as possible, but that tea towel was a brilliant move.
Now I was interested. I tuned out from the girl serving me and watched to see what the chef did next.
He turned back to where he had just prepared the meat and he grabbed a wrap. Just to be clear, he had placed the wrap on the bench where he had just been cutting meat, and he grabbed it with his bare hands. I suppose the wrap would absorb a large amount of the mess left behind by the meat so the next person would have a better chance of survival.
He then grabbed a hand full of lettuce and dropped it onto the salad. This probably had a better chance of cleaning his hands then the cloth.
And there it was – the wrap of mass destruction. Just waiting for an unsuspecting victim to savour the pro-biotic delights of Cafe Cloth.
I had just watched someone make their own version of Chicken Seizure Salad complete with unwashed hands and reusing the same chopping board. The only thing he was missing was the chicken, but then I totally missed the tea towel, so I guess we were even.
It was at that point that I was then told the final amount for my order. I just turned to her and said “Cancel my order, I can’t eat here” and when she asked why I replied “Because your chef just handled raw meat and then handled the wrap without washing his hands.” She just looked at him and then back at me and said “Oh”.
In hind sight I should have made a bit more of a fuss. Someone ate that wrap. There are probably dozens of more people who had food prepared by that guy that day. The other staff probably handled that cloth. There may now be a food poisoning pandemic going through Westmead Hospital right now all because I remained quiet.
I did ring the council. They are investigating.
And I can recommend a very nice alternative cafe on Ventura Rd.