Sunday, May 19, 2013

Ethics in the Kitchen

Ethics: the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc.

See how it fits now?

Everyone who works in a kitchen, should be trained in food safety and should be practicing it, always. If you're not, you're playing a game of Russian Roulette.

My career as a Chef did not begin that long ago, but in that time I've heard one line, many times over.

"I've done it before, no one's going to get sick."

Is it really worth rolling the dice? Is the cost of that case of questionable chicken, worth risking everything? I have never believed it is. You know most people don't realize when they have food poisoning? Yes, there is a certain amount of acceptable risk involved in mass food production and preparation. Just as when you are driving your car, you understand there is a risk of an accident, risk a drunk driver might be on the next street. But if you drive fast, if you drive reckless, if you ignore the rules of the road, how greatly are you increasing your risk? I'm the type of person, who doesn't speed. The acceptable risk is enough for me.

So what of the Chef, the one that takes the chances on the claim of it's easier, it's cheaper, it's faster. They're the drunk driver in your life. As far as I'm concerned, someone comes to eat at my table, they are putting their trust in me. That's no small thing in my mind.

I've always fallen into the position of being the one responsible for ensuring everyone is doing as they should be. If the fridges go down, I'm always the one the boss turns to sort out what's still okay and what isn't worth the risk. I know that food is our business, I know there is a cost involved in everything and while that is a factor, the cost of loosing the trust of guests the cost of loosing my job don't even compare to that case of chicken.

The bottom line that few, even it seems among Chefs, realize is this:
We, Chefs, kitchen staff of any kind, restaurant staff, we have been given the unconditional trust of every patron. We have an ethical responsibility to serve that trust well.

I've been told I take it too far, but what do you think? As a cook, as a Chef as a diner.

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