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pastrygirl

sneeze guards

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Does your local health authority require a barrier between customers and food?  A local baker keeps posting pics of her cake shop with the cakes all out, uncovered, on the counter.  No barrier, no glass domes ... I can't see how the health department allows this.  I think it's only a matter of time until flying insects, jumping dogs, or curious children destroy a cake.  Is this weird to anyone else?

 

From her Instagram - nice work, but do you really want flowers dropping pollen on your cakes?

 

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I wonder if they're there all the time, or just put there for the pictures, then put back in a case or something.

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Weird photos. They're clearly not professional pictures.  (I dabble in photography, and I know I have a lot more to learn, but...) For publicity photos, it's always best to have establishing shots showing the inside as it looks to customers, complete with smiling staff. (not disembodied limbs and torsos) Then, you go for food porn: closeups of items or the bounty of the cases.

 

I know that the NYT food section has been using a photographer & stylist for the past couple of years have been using a style that it reminiscent of the early 1970s: overexposed, wide shots, flattened perspective, overhead viewpoints, garish plates. But, I am not fond of that. And, I think it does not encourage appetite.

 

Ironically, if you apply the Fibonacci spiral in the first photo, starting at the sweet spot on the upper-left and rolling out horizontally, you notice a sequence of flaws. The employee's crotch is (very unfortunately) in the actual sweet spot. Just a little off from that (starting a theme of 'just a little off') is a drooping red and white flower. This mirrors the broken and drooping carnation in the middle of the arrangement. Leading us to ask, why are these sad flowers here at all? Are they a metaphor? As one draws the imaginary spiral outwards one's eye is drawn to the sad, leaning cakes and unevenly frosted cupcakes. The viewer then realizes that the wooden table underneath it all is more precisely made, and at the same time the wood grain is more visually interesting, than any of the baked goods. All of the food in that picture is tired and drooping. To paraphrase Elliot, "This is the way the bakery ends, not with a bang but a whimper."

 

And, yeah, clearly none of the staff there worries about cross-contamination and how it might affect allergy sufferers. And, I am guessing this place is in a state which allows wood in a commercial kitchen -some do not.

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@Lisa Shock the weird photos are screenshots of Instagram, cropped by me to protect the innocent. 

 

They may well be worried about cross-contamination and allergy sufferers, they just don't seem to be worried about insects or the unwashed public.

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1 minute ago, pastrygirl said:

@Lisa Shock the weird photos are screenshots of Instagram, cropped by me to protect the innocent. 

 

They may well be worried about cross-contamination and allergy sufferers, they just don't seem to be worried about insects or the unwashed public.

 

If the place really looks like that, I'd be willing to bet that someone swipes a fingerful of icing off a cake about 20 times a day.

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So apparently she's working on it and will build a case out of tempered glass.  I still don't understand how the health department allowed her to open like this.  Huh. 🤔

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Maybe you should call the health department and ask them for clarification...

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Yeah, or let's send someone there to really check the place out.  As far as I know in my state (MA) food has to be protected from the public by a guard.  Once at a charity Taste of the Town event, the health inspector forced all the participating restaurants to attend a meeting (and she took attendance!) where she explicitly said food had to be protected by a guard.  One of the restaurants was forced to rent a cafeteria sneeze guard from the local restaurant supply which completely ruined the appeal of their table.  I ended up doing chocolate dipped marshmallows and put them under cake domes and then I never did the event again.

 

But yeah, I wouldn't want to buy anything that was just lying around like that.  Those sliced wood platters are not food safe either; it looks as if that cake is assembled right on it but the other (sliced) ones look like there was a board under it but still...... and what's up with the plates right next to the display - maybe it was from an event they did ? (because I am hoping this isn't the way they do things - walk up and we'll slice a cake for you or give you a cupcakes or....)  

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Thanks, Jeanne, I just needed someone to agree with me :)

 

I'm not usually so all up in other people's business, but I have time on my hands and this isn't far from my new commissary, so I walked by and yes, the cakes are just out in the open being breathed on by customers.  I'm also curious and envious as a business owner because she seemed to open so fast.  Other businesses always seem to be waiting on inspections and pushing back their openings, but she paints, buys an oven, has her dad build a counter and boom!  I admire the DIY but am skeptical of how easy it looks.  But if there was no major renovation then no building permits were needed, and social media makes everything look easy ...

 

I looked at the health dept inspection records and here is how I think she's getting away with this- it was an old corner grocery that closed last fall.  The baker does have it listed with the health dept, but still as a grocery store, risk category 1.  Bakeries are risk 2 - once you crack an egg or open that carton of cream, you're higher risk (meat handling is level 3).  There's no inspection report for that location, and I do know the health dept is overwhelmed with the vast # of new restaurants and limited inspectors, so it hasn't been inspected as a bakery & is not going to be a priority. I checked, and lack of "protection from contamination" is only a 5 point, non-critical violation.  It's a little bit gross, but there are much grosser things.  If a kid grabs a fistful of icing, they can jut cut that slice off.

 

Full disclosure, I haven't been inspected at my new kitchen either, and I'm hoping they forget about me for another year so I can avoid extra fees as long as possible!  So in that way I can appreciate trying to fly under the radar, and I've made my own mistakes in labeling and packaging and being new to business.  But as a chef, it would still be a higher priority to cover that stuff up.

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There are red flags going up for me all over this story.... it took me nearly a year to open in my current space and the projections were that it would take 6 months max.  I looked at it in March, the lease was negotiated and signed in September but in April I had hired an architect, in June we were looking at contractors and I had the final revision of plans ready for the Heath Dept to review in Sept.  Then the architect screwed it up and it took another 3 months to get plans signed off on and then construction took another 10 weeks.  I had no fewer than THREE pre-opening inspections from JUST the Health Department so the fact that this person just slapped a new sign on an old business makes me 1) annoyed, and 2) slightly jealous.  Change in ownership (at least here in MA) REQUIRES a re-inspection of a food business.

 

And seriously, if you are going to serve food to the public, you should take it seriously that you don't keep perishables or potentially hazardous foods at RM TEMP, exposed to whatever the wind blows in.  Even if she's selling Twinkies for crying out loud, cover them up!   I am letter-of-the-law strict about food safety, I cannot take a chance that someone will get a food-borne illness (I worked too hard to get where I am to lose it because someone is careless) and it irritates me to no end that others don't take it seriously.

 

I'm a little cranky today is all.... ;)

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@pastrygirl, pleasePM me that IG account, I wanna follow it just to snoop ;)

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