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issues of restaurants reusing used food

ok so i really just want to know if this is common practice.

this past weekend i went with a large group to a italian family-styled restaurant outside new york city. we've been there a bunch before and even though the food is so so, it's always a good time at least.

anyway, we get through the meal and then they bring out two large pastries for dessert, looked basically like a large pastry dough mound with frosting on it. i didnt eat it. anyway, one of the group decides he's bored and sticks his fingers in the cake and makes 4 finger holes, one on each side of the cake. say what you will about that, but that's not the issue here.

we leave the table and go outside when my fiance realizes she left her sweater behind. i go back in to get it and i see that they have replated the cake with the fingers holes and are serving it to another table. maybe because there were four of the holes they thought that's how the cake was but GROSS who reuses food like that.

so, does this happen? do restaurants reuse the uneaten bread in bread baskets, unconsumed amuse bouches, etc and should i be concerned or is it just this one restaurant that i know i won't be returning to.

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  1. I think you need to get yourself a copy of Kitchen Confidential!

    6 Replies
    1. re: Pablo

      Yup. And as Bourdain wrote in his book, the recycled bread basket is extremely common in restaurants.

      1. re: gloriousfood

        ha, yeah i actually did read that and had forgotten that part. i guess i had never seen such a blatant reusing of food like that before, especially with finger holes!

        1. re: gloriousfood

          Think twice next time before you order that bread pudding!

        2. re: Pablo

          Reused bread? Absolutely!

          I am not totally condoning this practice but peoples eyes truley are bigger than there bellys. You wounldn't believe how much bread would be wasted if this wasn't common practice.

          Now cake with finger holes that is another story. A little grosser I think and the place clearly dosen't know what there own food is supposed to look like.

          Jenna

          1. re: j2brady

            It's all gross--just because the bread hasn't obviously been handled doesn't mean the previous customer didn't paw it, lick it, or sneeze all over it.

            1. re: slynnkiino

              True...but it wasn't prepared in a lab either...that is to say a totally sterile environment.

              Jenna

        3. When I worked in a restaurant, I was reprimanded a few times for trying to throw out bread that had been tabled.

          1. Abslutely disgusting and they should all be turned into the health department or the names of the offending restaurant listed here.

            The part of the book (KC) I quote most often is the vinegrettes at the Sunday Buffet. Never ate them before reading the book, now i chuckle to myself when I think of others eating this stuff. Ouch!!

            1. i've known of vietnamese restaurants in my area salvaging unused food from the tables...mainly bean sprouts and the other fixings for pho.
              A friend would always request that her's be steamed first...to kill off germs and ensure that her portion wouldn't be reused.

              1. Anthony Bourdain is one chef and there isn't much that is universal from restaurant to restaurant. As a former chef that has been in the business nearly twenty years I've worked at only one restaurant that recycled bread. All the others tossed and I've never seen anything else recycled to guest recycled to staff is another story. I've worked at mostly high end restaurants though.