I’m in the restaurant business. Nothing strikes fear in the heart of a restaurateur than a visit from the County Health Inspector. We do a great job keeping things clean and sanitary. We follow all the protocols. We keep our Health and Safety Certification Cards up-to-date. But with myriads of things to keep up with and an ever-changing atmosphere if a busy environment, little things can get easily missed. Even the trivial things are important to the health inspector.
At midday, I was in the back prepping veggies. I had just got a full box of beautiful portabella mushrooms out of the walk-in cooler and set them on the sink. Mushrooms have to be crisp and snap when you break them, not bend. They have to have the right coloring and not be slimey. Most importantly, they have to have the correct date-code. I had just loaded a container full of ‘shrooms for the kitchen when in walked the health inspector. She wasn’t our normal county official whom we’re familiar with. Not knowing who she was, she walked to the back. She was an attractive woman, about forty, with a nice smile. I liked her immediately before I knew who she was. We began chatting as I glanced at the I.D on her lanyard (Holy crap! It’s the health inspector!).
Maintaining my composure, I went back to making a date-sticker for the mushrooms. Then I noticed it: That box full of lightly-colored, crisp, fresh mushrooms were out of date and she was standing right in front of them! Product dating is important. It’s vital that everything put out for use be fresh and in date. It doesn’t matter how a product looks, if it’s out of date, it has to go. Some kitchen workers would be tempted to use something out of date anyway if it looks and smells
fresh, but not with the inspector standing in front of it.
Quick, think of something! Turning on the charm, I asked her a question. Happy to expound on her work, she began explaining in detail what I asked about as I engaged her eye-to-eye and smile-to-smile. Just keep her attention off that date code and we’ll be alright. Then, the manager walked back and distracted her and she walked up front with him.
Quick as a flash, I ran to the walk-in, grabbed the new box of mushrooms and swapped the old one out. With a quick glance their way, I whisked the box out the door and to the dumpster before she was wise to what I had done. When she returned, I was dating the new container and putting the new box back in the cooler.
Whew! That was close. Our restaurant scored a 95% that day, not because of something I had done, thankfully. If she had seen that date, and gigged us on points, I would have never heard the end of it. I would have probably had to make-out with her in the walk-in to get her to let it slide. Anything to take one for the team!