One of the most dreaded of calls a kitchen can get from a hotels front desk staff is "The Health Inspector just walked thru the doors!!". Now in a hotel they are there to check multiple things...but the kitchen is one of the main ones. Once this call goes out...it is usually followed by mass pandemonium. A small army of white coats running around trying to correct everything that is not up to standards...usually with alot of yelling ... and the odd accident. Total Chaos for about five minutes or as long as it takes the Inspector to walk to the kitchen. Usually a Chef is sent out to meet and greet them...we call this stalling! Everyone fixing all the "Bads" of the day as sudden death approaches. This is not the case with the Sawridge Inn.
This is the first hotel I have ever worked at where we actually maintain most of the standards Alberta Health Services imposes on our operation. Were not perfect by any means...but we do our best to achieve it.
Meet Lily....Lily is our usual Health Inspector. She is an Immigrant from China I believe. Even the name instills peace. With a smile that just never stops!! Not the scowling, crusty, white coat that I am used to. She methodically goes thru the kitchen checking everything....and I do mean everything. "That insert has a crack in it! You might want to get rid of that because the bacteria can form in the crack and the dishwasher will never get that sanitized again!" She gives helpful advice all the way along. She doesn't dictate...just suggests. We listen to those suggestions.
Every station has a sanitizer bucket....we all have clean rags everywhere. I just cleaned my toolbox...so she can check that without me cringing. Vlad has cleaned his disaster zone...all things are hot that should be hot...all things are cold that should be cold. The floor could use a quick sweep...but we are in the middle of lunch service..it could look alot worse! I even remembered to hide my thermal coffee cup (I call it the cup of life)...which she always seems to have a problem with! She works her magic on the dishwasher...as usual she wants the temp up'd a lil bit. She dips strips into our buckets...she looks under everything...opens everything else. She is a very thorough woman.
I usually like to inflict a lil bit of sarcasm into each visit...it's my nature. Today it was..."I dont think those street clothes are very hygenic...shouldn't you have a smock on?". Then I just started taking pics of her...which also threw her off. "Oh dont worry Lily...I'm just going to do a scathing piece on you for my blog!". Her response "Oh!"
It is nice to actually like a Health Inspector for a change. If she can survive two days of Me in her Food Safe Class...she can survive anything. She just wants everything safe....and so do we...so we have a partnership. I always enjoy doing Sunday Brunch and looking up to see her and her family enjoying Breakfast. It gives a cook a good feeling knowing the Health Inspector actually eats at their establishment....and she probably does at least once a week.
We aren't perfect and neither are all the rules were supposed to follow....especially the one about not using Stainless Steel Wool anymore...how the F@ck do u clean a pot that someone burnt something in without the stuff...3M Pads dont do it toots!! There are no experiments growing in buckets in our fridges. We treat our products with the respect they deserve. First In ... First out! We dont overstock items...so we dont have to deal with alot of rot issues...aside from the odd Carrot you can sink your fingers into like Jello (Brodie). We do our best to follow all the rules ... and she does her best to remind us when we aren't.
A kitchen can always be cleaner...but were pretty proud of ours. We dont have any horror stories and we dont want any. I like not having to do the "mad scramble" when that call arrives from the front desk. I like just having to hide a coffee cup from her....and not having to try steer her away from certain areas of our domain. She is a truly nice person...and you can tell she really likes her job (not to sure I could do it). She does it well too...not to often a Health Inspector gets a pat on the back!
Till next time Lily....keep er' clean!!