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Elrushbo

Per Se gets horrible health department inspection report

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But it is under appeal.

Keller probably didn't have the envelope ready for the inspector.

Or maybe Diblasio didn't get the table he wanted.

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Under appeal...kinda hard to unring that bell. Seems like basic stuff, bizarre cause they did get 3 Michelin stars.

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After watching some related videos, it's no surprise to me.

I cringed at the cross-contamination.


~Martin

Unsupervised rebellious radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader and adventurous cook. Crotchety cantankerous terse curmudgeon, nonconformist, contrarian and natural born skeptic who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it! 

 

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And they were dumb enough to video it? Wow.

 

I ran into Keller in an elevator once.

 

He looked clean enough.

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Hand washing and food storage temperatures would seem to me to be basic food hygiene issues.  For a three star michelin restaurant i would expect excellent food hygiene. 

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I saw some NYTimes article a few years back about some healthcare blemishes at NYC restaurants. Don't recall the exact context but i found it interesting. It talked about Jean George's after the cockroach across the plate incident scoring like a 26 on some cleanliness scale. Not this one cited if I recall. Other high end named restaurants were similarly scored. Per Se was a hyper clean sounding zero on that scale. I remember reading Ruhlman talking about how Keller himself picked up cigarette butts in the French Laundry parking lot. Based on those anecdotes I'm shocked about this. Waiting for The Rest Of The Story.

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Absurd to believe that Per Se is on a sanitary par with a crappy restaurant in Chinatown.

 

A lot of inspections are capricious and the city is incentivized to find violations because they make lots of money from fines.

 

In any other industry this would be called a conflict of interest.

 

But not so with government.

 

Check this out  http://www.thebraiser.com/andy-ricker-slams-health-inspectors/

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High profile scalps make the newspapers. It raises the profile of the inspectors and the department.

 

Just saying...

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Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four.
Unless there are three other people." Orson Welles
My eG Foodblog

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The hygiene issues that gave them the high score on the (presumably) unannounced inspection sound fairly basic. The NYC department of health inspectors are merely doing their job to ensure public health.  It is important that people eating out in NYC have confidence in the food safety of the restaurants as this safeguards the interest of all NYC restaurants and food businesses. 

 

Calling into doubt the honesty and integrity of public servants who provide such an important service to NYC isn't fair.  Their value should not be underestimated and if they did not exist, everyone would suffer.  If you are a professional food business operator, achieving A or B grading should not be difficult.  Certainly, if you have a Michelin star, I would expect a very high standard of food hygiene.

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The hygiene issues that gave them the high score on the (presumably) unannounced inspection sound fairly basic. The NYC department of health inspectors are merely doing their job to ensure public health.  It is important that people eating out in NYC have confidence in the food safety of the restaurants as this safeguards the interest of all NYC restaurants and food businesses. 

 

Calling into doubt the honesty and integrity of public servants who provide such an important service to NYC isn't fair.  Their value should not be underestimated and if they did not exist, everyone would suffer.  If you are a professional food business operator, achieving A or B grading should not be difficult.  Certainly, if you have a Michelin star, I would expect a very high standard of food hygiene.

Nobody, least of all me, is against hygiene and food safety.  I am against corruption and incompetence.

 

I cited a link where NY restauranteurs were suing the department of health for incorrect inspections.  There is thus basis to have suspicion.

 

You sound like you work for the Dept of Health with your oh-so-righteous response.

 

You are right. Getting an A or B should be easy enough if the inspector is doing the job right. That is exactly why I have a hard time believing that Keller and his people,( who are first rate I'm sure) got this C grade.

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I dont work for NYC dept of Health or any form of food hygiene enforcement.  It is not something I would consider doing.  However, I should declare that I had food poisening during the mid 1980's.  I was very seriously ill and although i was very fortunate to make a full recovery, it is not something i have forgotten and would not like anyone else to suffer the same.

 

Although my experience has made me (generally) pro food legislation and pro food law enforcement, it has also made me anti corruption.  However, there was nothing in the press report of the original story to indicate corruption in this case.  Futhermore, the information published on the NYC webpage would indicate they had a (presumably) unannounced inspection during 2011 where they also had a similarly high score but subsequently (in 2012) improved (presumably on the follow-up inspection).  I am 'reading along the lines' (and stand to be corrected) but it looks like they have had previous food hygiene issues raised by the NYC department of health.  There is nothing to indicate corruption in either case.

 

I appreciate it is difficult to believe this of Keller.  I had a favourite restuarant local to me that I thought was brilliant and the owner was a lovely lady who i thought was fantastic.  However, the Local Authority Food Inspectors closed the restuarant down.  The shutters were down with locks and notices all over them.  It was such a shock. However, with the Keller case, it is very different because it does not sound as serious but (from what i can gather) serious enough as to require Per se to improve. 

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In a New York City environment, all the buildings are connected, plumbing, electrical lines, ventilation equipment etc.

 

There is no way you can prevent infiltration of insects.

 

With so much at stake, I guess operators will have no choice but to apply the most toxic poisons everywhere, 1000 times than what is enough, on all surfaces, all nooks and crannies. Who is going to tell?

 

That's why I try not to eat out too often.

 

dcarch

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"------Calling into doubt the honesty and integrity of public servants who provide such an important service to NYC isn't fair.---"

 

Really?

 

I guess you are lucky that you have never been given unfair traffic tickets and tried to fight one in court.

 

dcarch

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What's most dubious about this inspection is the violation described as "no hand-washing facility or soap near the food prep area and hot and cold items". It's quite hard to think that Per Se changed their kitchen set-up after the previous inspections. So, if previous inspections declared that the kitchen set-up was ok, why should there be a violation now?

 

 

 

Teo

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My new blog: http://www.teonzo.com/

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At a temporary set-up for a short-term gig we had a building inspector who after 5 visits on the sixth visit decided he didn't like how the vent pipe for the plumbing going into a sump tank was done. This inspector had a reputation for doing such things.

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Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

 

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I know of one Building inspector whose previous job was a carpet salesman.

 

No formal training in anything related to his current job.

 

dcarch

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A lot of these kinds of jobs are filled by nepotism. That's not to say that all inspectors are inept, but it casts a shadow over the honest.

 

Keller is notorious for being a stickler about hygiene.  I'll wager there is more to this story.

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A lot of these kinds of jobs are filled by nepotism. That's not to say that all inspectors are inept, but it casts a shadow over the honest.

 

Keller is notorious for being a stickler about hygiene.  I'll wager there is more to this story.

Nepotism and political patronage are how these jobs are filled in NYC. In Philly anyway, corruption is rife among inspectors.  I'm told its the same in NYC.

 

Not saying there are not honest dedicated ones, but all it takes is one or two bad ones...and there are many more than that.

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Here is your very own personal (virtual) tour of the Per Se kitchen:

 

It looks clean and well organized but does it lack hand washing facilities? 

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I've been given the tour of the Per Se kitchen and was introduced to Keller. The place was spotless. I've literally never seen a cleaner environment. (Much - MUCH - cleaner than most hospitals I've visited!)

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A lot of this is strange. Items in red are "critical":

 

Sanitary Violations
1) Hot food item not held at or above 140º F.
2) Cold food item held above 41º F (smoked fish and reduced oxygen packaged foods above 38 ºF) except during necessary preparation.
3) Hand washing facility not provided in or near food preparation area and toilet room. Hot and cold running water at adequate pressure to enable cleanliness of employees not provided at facility. Soap and an acceptable hand-drying device not provided.
4) Tobacco use, eating, or drinking from open container in food preparation, food storage or dishwashing area observed.
5) Wiping cloths soiled or not stored in sanitizing solution.
6) Plumbing not properly installed or maintained; anti-siphonage or backflow prevention device not provided where required; equipment or floor not properly drained; sewage disposal system in disrepair or not functioning properly.
7) Non-food contact surface improperly constructed. Unacceptable material used. Non-food contact surface or equipment improperly maintained and/or not properly sealed, raised, spaced or movable to allow accessibility for cleaning on all sides, above and underneath the unit.

 

Items 3, 6, and 7 seem especially strange, since these are about the design or construction of the kitchen. The restaurant's been inspected a lot over the years. Did they remodel? And do so stupidly? Seems dubious.

 

Items 1 and 2 are hard to judge without knowing the details. The FDA and Board of Health rules (the "danger zone") are simply based on incorrect science, and good chefs know this. They break the letter of the law every day in order to deliver good food, and do so without endangering anyone. For example, you can pasteurize food at 132°F. It's simply a question of understanding the time/temperature relationships for different foods. Keller understands. I do not know how these restaurants navigate the inspection process, which is of course based on the letter of the law. The answer in this case seems to be: poorly. Unless, of course, there was an actual serious violation.

 

Items 4 and 5 look like the kinds of things Keller would crucify someone for.

 

I'm curious to see the final grade. A high-end restaurant could have trouble surviving anything below an A.

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