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Jan 27, 2013 03:06 AM

Mario Batali trying to thwart food inspectors

by throwing away food before they make it to the kitchen?

If true, I'm not inclined to think it's a good idea on any level. But it's all hearsay and anonymous comments.

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  1. Mario, bless his heart, has been 'playing' the inspectors for decades. He knows every trick in the book. Good on him IMO.
    Metaphor: It's like a gang of thieves is looting a jewelry store in the night. The alarm goes off and the cops arrive. A pre-chosen member of the gang who will get the lightest sentence calls out to the cops "Don't shoot! I'm coming out!". The poor sucker is led away in hand cuffs. The rest of the gang has long since vanished out the back door. Cops: "So where did all the jewelry go?". "I don't know. I was walking past and saw the door was open and decided to grab something. Sorry."
    Sort of what Sadam did with the IAEA inspectors. LOL

    1. The article makes everybody look bad. It makes the city look like they're using a restaurant inspection scam as a revenue source, and makes the restaurants look like they're regularly cranking out substandard or unhealthy food without regard to health codes.

      1. The article sounds ridiculous to me. The "employee" says there is a buzzer so the kitchen knows to throw out all the food when the inspectors arrive. That would make one think that Mario is trying to get away with running a bad kitchen. But then the "employee" says that Mario fired managers who did not get an "A" inspection. This would make one think that Mario cares about having a properly run kitchen. Which is it mystery "employee?"

        From my understanding health inspectors aren't going to inspect only the food that is being fired or plated. They inspect everything and a buzzer isn't going to save a filthy kitchen, warm walk-in, etc.

        It goes on to say they will be inspecting "A" restaurants more often because when a place gets an "A" they might be more inclined to slack off? I could be way off but I would think a restaurant either strives for high standards because they want to or a restaurant just doesn't care. A restaurant that doesn't care would only be interested in a passing grade so they can stay open, not in getting an "A."

        6 Replies
          1. re: RC51Mike

            "This would make one think that Mario cares about having a properly run kitchen."

            It could also mean that Mario cares about getting an "A" rating no matter the cost, which is in line with the employee's initial claim.

            I'm not saying I believe either side. I'm just saying that the second statement doesn't necessarily contradict the first.

            1. re: 2roadsdiverge

              I see your point. But it seems to me that there is more to getting an A than dumping food that's on the line and telling the staff to go on smoke break. It would be less effort to just run a clean kitchen to get an A than keeping everything else up to standards in the kitchen except prepped food and staff.

            2. re: RC51Mike

              It could be that he thinks some of the rules are stupid and/or arbitrarily enforced and that they interfere with the proper running of a kitchen.

              1. re: FoodPopulist

                I could see that possibility. Some gub'ment workers let the perceived power go to their heads, some are OCD nit pickers and I'm sure some are corrupt. But really, is this the way to handle it, a buzzer? I would think that successful restauranteurs wouldn't have to behave so petty with low level functionaries. Inspectors really aren't that autonomous. (Speaking as a non-food related low level gub'ment functionary.)

                1. re: RC51Mike

                  It's how I would consider handling it. Restaurants like Batali's have a system in place to notify staff that they need to put on a show if a food critic walks in the door. It seems natural that they would also come up with a system to warn the staff when the food cops show up.

            3. Uh hmmm. Let's see. First he would not throw away food being currently cooked because it WOULD be up to temp. He might be tempted to toss things they have prepped that are not being kept to heat because it would maybe damage it or he does not have the warmer or fridge space or they need it on the line.... on and on. He knows what they are going to come after and what makes actual real world sense.

              Now, speaking from experience, the inspectors ARE looking for revenue and if he has pissed them off they ARE gunning for him and if he did not pay (perhaps) a bribe, they are most definitely gunning for him.

              Having to toss out food they are currently cooking would be ludicrous and a buzzer sending all hands out for a cigarette would soon bring down the resto.

              1. A significantly dishonest person tends to remain a significantly dishonest person. Until an investigation is completed and a conclusion reached, past behavior and reputation are very persuasive in terms for forming opinions. Settling a 5 plus million dollar out of Court settlement for the tip skimming scandal last year does not fall in the "positive" character column. Be this fair or not, reputation follows one like a shadow and in "most" cases one's reputation is the result of one's own doing and one has only the reflection in a mirror to blame if it is not to their liking.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Tom34

                  Thanks, I forgot about that. So, I still think there is something fishy about the article but I'm not going to defend Mario like he is jesus christ or anything.