Tag Archive for 'Food Preparation'

Cantaloupes (Rockmelons) KILL 29 people in the US!

“With 29 people now confirmed dead, the listeria outbreak linked to cantaloupe from one Colorado farm is officially the deadliest foodborne illness outbreak in the United States since 1924, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention”

The above quote is what greeted readers of “USA Today” on the 3rd November 2011. The full article can be accessed through the links above, but I bet that most chefs would never have considered a melon to be a high-risk food, let alone be capable of killing people.

When you read the article (and other associated commentary) the cause of this outbreak has been linked to poor hygiene in the packing shed on the farm.

I have already written a couple of blog posts e on the importance of cleaning and in particular sanitisers, so my views on hygiene are well known. This is just an unfortunate case where a food business in the US has graphically highlighted the consequences of an un clean work place.

I believe that there are only three basics components in ensuring cleaning is conducted properly. They are:

  1. Knowing what, when and how to clean
  2. Having a chemical supplier that provides appropriate chemicals
  3. Having employees that are adequately trained

The first point is easily achieved if you spend a little bit of time in preparing a cleaning schedule. This involves you walking around your kitchen and identifying:

  • What needs to be cleaned (i.e. floors, benches, ovens, utensils etc.)
  • How frequently it needs to be cleaned (before use, after use, weekly, monthly etc.)
  • How you are going to clean (i.e. what steps are involved)
  • The equipment and chemicals needed to adequately clean
  • Who is responsible for the cleaning and checking the cleaning

 

The second point is harder. Many people solely choose a chemical supplier based on price with little consideration for effectiveness, suitability or ease of use. The best chemical companies provide automatic dispensing systems, labelled bottles, clear instructions, MSDS and colour coded systems. Some even:

  • Service your dishwasher
  • Provide audits/ reports on chemical usage
  • Staff training
  • Conduct micro testing to ensure effectiveness of chemicals.

 

All of this is generally built into the cost of the chemical and cannot be compared when purely judging the price of two different 5 Litre containers. Speak to your supplier and see what services they provide or you are missing out on.

 

The third point (as indicated above) may be provided by the chemical supplier. If it is not provided by the supplier, then this training needs to be conducted internally by a suitably qualified and experienced employee. Some of our clients have developed induction manuals for all kitchen hands and stewards that include:

  • Cleaning schedules
  • Summary of chemical uses
  • Monitoring forms
  • Safety information

 

To assist you, we have provided a template that The Gourmet Guardian use in the Food Safety Programs that they develop for clients and you can use to develop your own cleaning schedule.

 

We have included a couple of items, so that you can see how we would complete this for a client, however instead of “detergent” and “no rinse sanitiser” I suggest you use your actual chemical names.

As summer approaches, the importance of cleaning becomes even more important.

P.s Don’t forget to download the free template for a cleaning schedules.

 

Other references to this outbreak can be found at:

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Revolutionary Chef Cuisinier: Georges Auguste Escoffier

Chefs consider their wonderful food as their masterpieces. As with many famous artists, their legacies live on, producing progressive changes in cultures and lifestyles, exactly the way master chef, Georges Auguste Escoffier did.

This revolutionary chef became as famous as his is today for three major points: The development of modernising traditional French cooking methods, modernising restaurant menus and applying organisation within the professional kitchen. Later on, Escoffier became a best-selling culinary author of books such as, Le Livre des Menus (1912), Ma Cuisine (1934) and most famously, Le Guide Culinaire (1903) which is still currently used as a reference for cookbooks and textbook cooking.

His recipes, techniques and approaches to kitchen management remain highly influential today and adopted by chefs and restaurants not only in France, but around the world.

In the late 19th century, Auguste followed many techniques of another, earlier and very famous chef, Marie-Antoine Careme. Careme’s culinary style was much more elaborate in the early 18th century but his introduction to modernising European dishes and introducing much needed illustrations into his books inspired Escoffier to simplify Careme’s recipes in a way that could continue to be modernised for decades to come.

Beginning his cooking career at Le Petit Moulin Rouge in Paris, Auguste quickly moved up the professional ladder, due to the most notable part of his culinary career: Introducing this newly discovered simplicity along with organised discipline into restaurant menus and kitchens to improve professional kitchen working conditions.

In no time at all, he was working all over Paris in the finest dining restaurants and travelling to Monte Carlo, Switzerland and London to learn more about the culinary world while fine-tuning his own culinary techniques.

Another interesting little fact is that during this era of his career, Auguste served in the French Army as Chef de Cuisine during the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, which most likely comprised of the best fed soldiers to date! This experience in touring and Army life led Escoffier to realise the importance preserving foods which led to him becoming the first chef to ever research and develop techniques for canning and preserving meats and vegetables.

After his time was up as Chef de Cuisine in the French Army, Auguste Escoffier delved right back into the same role, only this time, Cesar Ritz invited him to become the Chef de Cuisine for the Grand Hotel in Monte Carlo in the winter and at the Grand National in Lucerne in the summer.

Peach Melba

Ritz then took over management at the Savoy Hotel, which allowed him to open his own chain chain of renown hotels named, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, in which Escoffier joined as his partner. Together, they conquered hospitality serving up brand new menus daily of the finest foods around to people of high class like the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Orleans. Because he needed to create new food menus every day, Escoffier also created some of his most famous dishes that are still currently served all over the world: Peach Melba and Cherry Jubilee just to name a couple.

Aside from making French cuisine world famous and forever changing how the world looked at Culinary Arts, there was also quite the philanthropic side to him. Amongst his many other talented and creative‘firsts,’ Auguste was the first to start programs to feed the hungry and organisations to give retired chefs financial assistance.

Although he’s won many achievement awards like the Legion d’Honneur, a lifetime of recognition means so much more! In today’s culinary line of work, his systematically organised and spotlessly, clean kitchen, called the Brigade de Cuisine, are used in every professional restaurant and run by the Chef de Partie.

All of his revolutionary restaurant management techniques, philosophies and experiences have allowed for Culinary Artist, Georges Auguste Escoffier, to become the legendary master chef that is known and admired in today’s culinary world – and the world has definitely noticed!

 

 

 

 

 

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Jewellery in the Kitchen

Most people have pieces of jewellery that they were regularly and some, like wedding rings, that they never take off. In the kitchen, however, taking off jewellery is extremely important for yourself and others in ways you may have never even thought of!

In professional kitchens, it’s a requirement that staff aren’t allowed to wear jewellery such as watches, earrings and necklaces when preparing food. There are a couple of exceptions to this rule that include wedding bands and medical alert bracelets BUT gloves must be worn at all times for protection. If there is a religious bracelet that an employee can’t remove, it will have to be managed by taping and remaining covered with protective work gear.

One of the main reasons watches and jewellery may not be worn around food are the dirt and bacteria it collects and spreads. Even if the jewellery has been cleaned and sanitised, it may catch other microorganisms that are lying around or from raw foods like uncooked chicken.

The other main reason jewellery is banned from food service kitchens is the potential hazard of a piece of metal or gemstone that could possibly fall off and into the food that’s being prepared. The last thing any reputable food company wants is customers with chipped teeth, broken teeth or internal cuts and lesions inside of their mouths!

Contrary to what people might believe, jewellery is very hard to completely clean out all of the germs and microorganisms that hide in the chain links or under those precious stones. Just because it looks sparkly doesn’t mean it’s sanitary.

Jewellery is worn for many different reasons; whether it means something sentimental or it defines how a person looks. The main thing to always remember, though, is to save beauty for outside of the kitchen because inside, food safety matters a heck of a lot more!

 

 

 

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A Clean Chef’s Uniform = A Clean Professional Kitchen

Every job has a dress code; whether it’s for business attire at the office, a logo filled collared shirt for the cable man/woman or hair netting and gloves for kitchen employees. A uniform represents a personal standing within the company as well as oftentimes, useful for other purposes such as safety and hygiene assurance.

In any food working environment, great, personal hygiene and safety of the employee and consumers goes a long way in food safety. One way to encourage as much cleanliness in the professional kitchen as possible is to require uniform practices that help prevent bacteria from spreading in the food preparation area.

It goes without saying that all kitchen staff are required to come to work clean and wear clean, uniformed clothes and coverings when working with food. If you’ve ever noticed chefs and cooks in the kitchen when dining out, their uniform consists solely of all white. It seems a little silly to those not in the food business that white, the easiest stained colour of all, is used in one of the messiest professions out there. The reason behind it is very interesting though: Safety.

Not only can white be bleached (pure sanitation) every time it’s washed but white is also the most reflective colour which helps keep heat at bay for cooks to stay cooler. Also, these white coats don’t have your typical plastic buttons on them; rather, they contain knotted buttons that don’t melt and are easy to unbutton should a flame or oil accident occur.

You might think, in such a hot kitchen, why do food service employees wear long-sleeved coats? Again, the answer is: Safety. Long sleeves help protect employees from getting burns from boiling liquids or accidental oil spills while also protecting happy customers from flakes of dead skin, drops of sweat or body hair from ending up in their food.

Ideally, work clothes should be long-sleeved and light-coloured (to show the dirt) with no external pockets.  Long sleeves protect both the food and your arms, prevents skin from touching food and helps to stop hairs, fibres and the contents of pockets (which can carry bacteria) getting into food.

When working with raw poultry or other salmonella carrying food, aprons are then typically used over the white chef uniform so that it can be removed without requiring a time-consuming, full change of clothing. Also, to follow any health regulation required in any country, long hair is required to stay tied back while also wearing disposable hair (and beard) nets and rubber gloves.

A good idea to help keep up the sanitation of a professional kitchen is to enforce employees to only put on their kitchen uniforms once they’ve arrives to the food prep area and removed once their shift is over to avoid tracking in dirt and bacteria from the outside. Since reputable food companies need to keep their customers healthy and food-poisoning free, these uniforms, hair nets and gloves are an absolute must!

 

 

 

 

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