Unless you've worked in the food service industry, it's hard to comprehend what goes on behind those big swinging metal doors that lead to the kitchen. You hope your food is being prepared with caring, attentive, and, most importantly, washed hands.
Anyone who's worked in the food service industry, however, can most likely attest that's not always the case.
Reddit user, u/maybe-i-am-crazy, wanted to know what to avoid when they asked:
It's Just A Little Blood. What's The Problem?Giphy
In highschool, many years ago, I worked at a nation wide pizza place that rhymes with Sparrow. I cut my finger badly while grating cheese. I went to throw out the cheese that had blood on it. My manager stopped me, washed it off, and used it for pizza.
That's 3 Zeroes...
At RA sushi: don't get the scallop dynamite appetizer.
It's 3,000 calories.
Check To See If Meat Is Their Specialty
Unless you go to a proper smokehouse in America or something, the brisket will almost always be really dry.
All That Flavor Hides All That Expiration
Not restaurant-related; but I worked at various meat departments in some grocery stores in my teen years. I've noticed that the 'pre-seasoned' fillets or chicken breasts are usually always cuts that have either expired or are VERY close to expiring. Douse it in some cajun or lemon pepper seasoning and you just see convenience.
You Can Bet Corners Will Be Cut
Late to the thread but it's not a great idea to order "football food" on big game days unless you are at a dedicated sports bar.
In the same way that many juice machines can handle x amount of oranges a minute, kitchens are designed with x amount of product an hour to be produced.
If a restaurant usually sells x number of nachos an hour and on game night that number becomes 4x quality and execution suffer.
Nothing unethical or unsafe ever happened but I'm not particularly proud of some of the wings and nachos we made on big football days.
*stops chewing pizza
Local pizza chain. Where I worked was usually pretty tight about the cleanliness of things BUT watch out for those parmesan shakers. After we found mold in them we uh... started cleaning them a bit more often. I think the reason it took so long to realize was nobody complained about it. If anything it just was more tangy.
Bagged Everything. Everything In Bags!
Don't trust Panera Bread. I just left after a year and lemme just say EVERYTHING is in bags. It's all pre-cooked, all the soup/Mac is in bags we heat it up. All the meat is gross when we open it from the bags. There's little to no prep involved with it. Also it's all premeasured I swear you're wasting money. It's over 15$ to get a meal for yourself with small portions. Loved working there though made some excellent friends.
Stay Away From Case Items
I worked at Steak n Shake briefly. Saw enough in that month that I quit and don't eat there.
*Guy was making a shake, cut his finger, bled into shake, KEPT GOING. *Fly landed on something? Either shoo it off or bury it in the food. *No clean glasses? Rinse a dirty one in water and fill it up. *Burger fell? Pick it up, add some more ketchup. ITS FINE. *Salad dressing has moldy watery layer on top? Scoop it off. *Moldy bread? People can't see it when it's toasted.
I also worked at a grocery store deli. Oh my lord. Do not get the items in the case. We were told to put fill the bowl half way with new stuff and then put the days old, almost stuff on top. Little bought meats were often expired. Once the wrapper is off, the expiration date is gone. So if it doesn't smell, it's still good.
Ham Is Known For Being The Slippiest Meat
At the deli I worked at we were required to wash off any meat dropped on the ground put it in the back so no one would see and then use it later. The most dropped one was ham and Virginia ham especially, because damn was it slippery. The cold cutter machines are probably not cleaned properly, like we just rinsed them off with a hose at night!!
Rotiserry chickens sold at night were reheated in a warming oven and sat there for hours so we didn't have to cook new ones, and put back out and relabeled with a different time... I mean I guess it's not the worst thing but..still? it depends on your deli maybe. Higher end stores like whole foods have actual standards but cheaper or more localized stores probably do not. The workers are often left to their own devices and cut corners!
A Moldy Fan
Sonic drive in worker here. I CAN NOT SAY IT LOUDER YOU ARE EATING MOLD IF YOU ORDER OUR ICE CREAM!!! No body cleans the machines unless they break down. Even then no body cleans the cabinet in the bottom that the fan blows on the milk. The fan is ALWAYS covered in mold because we can not get to it to clean it.
Just Left To Sit Out
The salads at McDonald's. Sure our food isn't great but (at least where i am) the cucumber and grape tomatos are only used in the salads and are usually left sitting longer than they should be.
If you're trynna go to Maccas and be 'healthier' you're better off getting a grilled chicken wrap (ask for fresh grilled too if you don't mind waiting the 8 or so minutes).
Better yet spend probably the same money and go buy salad ingredients. You'll make something 100x better than you'll get from us
Again With The Ice Cream Machine
Former McDonald's manager- the ice cream machine had numbers on the front. That was how many days until the next deep cleaning. If that number is below 12... Maybe don't get the ice cream. It counts from 14. No one empties the machine and deep cleaned it daily, it goes into an automatic sterilization mode around 12a-3a unless the store changes the time, which is why you can't get ice cream at night, but the inside of the machine is HORRIBLE when you break it down.
The shake syrup tubes are very prone to mold. Even if you run sanitizer through them regularly.
The McCafe and Frappe machines are also very gross. The McCafe machine gets cycled nightly (unless they skip through it without doing it, which is hard, so unlikely.) but people like to ignore the foamer heads, so mold is an issue there too. The frappe machine doesn't get deep cleaned but once a week. It is a literal mold machine. The blenders are cleaned regularly but not the mix tubes.
The actual food is fine, just sh-t quality. But my best advice for food is go when it's busy. If you go when it's slow, food might be sitting past it's prime to cut down on food cost. If it's busy, you KNOW it's fresh and within its time.
Any Poland Readers Out There?
if you ever visit poland (i assume it's just our thing) and see a restaurant called The Sphinx, never ever eat anything from there. Worked in one for like a year. The standards were so mind blowingly low that some sh-t looks like from a sitcom.
Example: waiters would REGULARLY drop meat or other stuff on the floor, pick it up with their bare hands, throw it back at the plate and carry it to customers like nothing happened. If they recognized low tippers, they would do it on purpouse, tho never seen anybody spit in the food so there is that plus.
We had "spoiled chicken day" at least once a month where all chicken dishes were made with awful horrible quality meat that smelled like death. Fish too but much rarer.
Milk used in shakes was also frequently past expiration dates, beer was stale and we had fungus growing on the whatever you call beer dispenser where it wasnt visible to customers. Sometimes dishes and cutlery were just wiped, not washed.
And i know from coworkers that it went that way for years in many many restaurants in the chain.
It Still LOOKS Good?
I used to work at an old mom and pop movie theatre. We reused the popcorn from last night, put it in a big Tupperware container overnight and threw that stale sh-t back into the machine to heat up.
I also once found half a bug in the ice machine but management didn't seem overly concerned.
Well-Done? You Monster.
If you order a well done steak, your steak has almost always (read: absolutely) aged out.
I've worked places that had a separate bin on the line for steaks that smelled sour and had turned green, just for people who asked for WD.
Never got them sent back, though.
We had to hide them if the health inspector came.
Yes, this was a legit, fancy-ass "$40 an entree" place.
Stay Away From The "Recommendations"
Chefs recommendations... They are usually made from ingredients which are close to or over due date
Microwave Fish? *barf*Giphy
Long John Silvers, do not get the Baked Cod. They're stored in a bucket in the fridge and all we do is microwave it over rice. It also makes the back smell worse than it already does.
Microwaved fish? F-cking psychopaths
Breads Along The Line
Outback Steakhouse. I worked there 15 years ago (sidenote: holy f-ck that amount of time just hit me like a truck) and I still don't eat the bread.
It comes prepackaged and it was placed on a toaster at random by busy workers. Since there was no way to know how long it was on there workers would tap the bread to see if it was toasted enough to go out to the customers. So basically each price of bread may have between 2-8 people's hands touching it. Busy people who are touching everything and are sure as hell not washing their hands as frequently as they should.
Never Once Thought About This One
If you're [going] to get sushi rolls, make sure you read the ingredients. A lot of places have what amounts to a California roll for a premium price.
I've told this story before, but it is the best example of what I mean. I worked at a Japanese restaurant for a while and we had this thing called a Volcano roll and it cost $7.25. A California roll there cost $3.75. The Volcano roll was a Cali roll cut into the shape of a triangle and topped with spicy mayo that has been heated up with about $.10 worth of fish, literally just a few bits that was not worth it. You are much better off ordering a Cali roll and paying $.50 extra for spicy mayo on the side and asking them to heat it up.
I had one guy come in with a girl and he ordered a couple of regular rolls like spicy tuna and yellowtail, along with a Volcano roll. When served in the restaurant, unless they ask us, we would put the sauce on top so it looked nice, like a Volcano. When I brought that roll over he was like, "Oh, I didn't know you guys put the sauce on, I've only gotten it for pick up and the sauce is always on the side. I don't really like it, could you bring me one one without it?" I tried not to laugh and said sure. I went back and the sushi chef asked what was wrong. I told him that he didn't like the sauce and want one without it. He laughed and said alright, so he took a Cali roll, cut it up, and put it on the plate. I brought it back to the guy and he was super pumped.
Basically this guy paid $7.25 for a roll that would have cost him $3.75 and me and the sushi chef got to split a free volcano roll. Normally I would have just told him about it, but the dude was being so arrogant the entire time, I'm guessing to act like he was a sushi expert to impress the girl he was with.
I've seen this at a couple of other places too where they slightly dress up a California roll and jack up the price. You don't want to end up like that guy just because you didn't take a few seconds to go over the ingredients.