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When the waiter touches the food...


skoolpsyk
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When out the other night, the waiter delivered our salads and I noticed his thumb touching one of the leaves of lettuce. I know that food is handled by cooks, waiters, and whomever before it makes it's way to the table of course, so why does this bug me? Am I the only one? I don't eat that piece of lettuce, but while I'm eating the salad, that's all I'm thinking about!

(of course, it was a guy with a hairy thumb; if it was a cute waitress, I might have a different opinion!)

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If it was a standard small, house salad before entree, chances are your server touched the whole thing by prep'ing it. Hopefully they had clean hands, used tongs and/or rubber gloves.

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If it was a standard small, house salad before entree, chances are your server touched the whole thing by prep'ing it. Hopefully they had clean hands, used tongs and/or rubber gloves.

I know! That's why I don't know why it bothers me so much. Am I just weird or do others feel the same way...

I think I like the illusion of the food magically appearing untouched. Kind of like a good hotel gives the illusion that you are the first person ever staying in that room.

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If it was a standard small, house salad before entree, chances are your server touched the whole thing by prep'ing it.  Hopefully they had clean hands, used tongs and/or rubber gloves.

Not in NY state. We have a glove law and where I live it's rigidly enforced. Restaurants got tired of paying the fines for violations and it's a rare occasion when someone is lax enough to allow food handling (of food served raw or food that has already been cooked) without gloves or tongs. Not sure if it's strictly enforced in NYC but here in central NY it's become standard practice for all - even little mom 'n pop neighborhood deli's and pizza shops.

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why does this bug me? Am I the only one?

This isn't going to make you feel better, but having worked in a couple of restaurants, I've seen many things far worse than this. And I assume that I've eaten similar food, and have thus far survived. So in the overall scheme of things, this wouldn't bother me from a health standpoint. For some people, when it comes to what comes out of the kitchen, ignorance may indeed be bliss :smile:

To me it's a service issue, though, at a certain level of restaurant. Not at the diner, but at a starred restaurant, for instance.

Just my two cents.

:smile:

Jamie

See! Antony, that revels long o' nights,

Is notwithstanding up.

Julius Caesar, Act II, Scene ii

biowebsite

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In Massachuestts, over the past few weeks, we have had three separate instances of waitstaff being infected with Hepatitis A. The nightly news has been covering long lines of patrons waiting for injections. I understand how you feel.

Jim

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If they were my employees you better believe they'd use gloves in prepping salads. No exceptions. Let's hope that bartender is washing his or her mitts before he/she squeezes that lemon or garnishes your bloody Mary with celery. After all, they are handling dirty money at the bar, too. A thumb touching your food has probably happened a hundred times to you in the past, without your knowledge. And here's one for you...my Mom and I watched as a Cape Cod waitress breezed past us, her hair neatly pulled back in a pony tail. Ever step she took caused the long hair to swing across the basket of french fries on the tray she carried on her shoulder. :laugh:

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What bothered you was that you saw it. You should not have seen it. It was very unprofessional of your server to do that. The same server probably took too much time refilling your drinks, or clearing your plates.

"He could blanch anything in the fryolator and finish it in the microwave or under the salamander. Talented guy."

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What bothered you was that you saw it. You should not have seen it. It was very unprofessional of your server to do that. The same server probably took too much time refilling your drinks, or clearing your plates.

What does a server's thumb getting into the food have to do with his/her overall competence? It's highly possible for an oily plate to slip and a thumb to graze a salad. We hope that thumb was clean, seeing the thumb was attached to a human who works in a restaurant. We can hope. :unsure:

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What does a server's thumb getting into the food have to do with his/her overall competence?

Thats one of the first things you are tought as a server. Its a basic fundamental, like refilling drinks, or clearing plates.

Edited by chefdg (log)

"He could blanch anything in the fryolator and finish it in the microwave or under the salamander. Talented guy."

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Thats one of the first things you are tought as a server.

Well thank heavens for that! "Thou Shalt Not Reem Around In Customer Salads With Thy Thumb." :rolleyes: My point was that accidents happen. Newbie servers can let an oily plate slip and their thumb touches the food. BFD. If it bothers the customer, they have every right to ask for a new, clean plate of food. Otherwise, they should shutenzee up.

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Otherwise, they should shutenzee up.

If skoolpsyk would have done just that then we wouldn't be having this discussion. But maybe he/she didn't feel that strongly about making a scene at the restaurant, it can be uncomfortable for guests when a person sends their food back.

"He could blanch anything in the fryolator and finish it in the microwave or under the salamander. Talented guy."

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I have been cooking professionally for over 20 years. I wash my hands with soap and water about every 15 minutes. How often do you wash yours? I sanitize my work station, scrub down my counters often. I am more concerned that the customers are going to infect ME.

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Perhaps the solution is to develop cooking and serving robots, Jetsons-style, so no human beings come in contact with your food before you dig in? I see a veritable Wallace and Grommit style machine in place of a restaurant kitchen, huffing and chugging away with loud iron clanking sounds.

Then we'll complain about the machine noise from the kitchen! :laugh:

"I just hate health food"--Julia Child

Jennifer Garner

buttercream pastries

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For me, it's not about the waiter vs the cook touching the food. It's the fact that the waiter most likely also cleared dirty plates (germs, anyone?), as well as money, which is just about the most filthy stuff around. And while cooks may wash their hands, how often do waiters do this?

“"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"

"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"

"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.

"It's the same thing," he said.”

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of course the waiter is going to touch your food. of course.

but not in front of you. never in front of you. that is extremely unprofessional.

i heard a story of a new server in a very upscale place who felt something in her nose right before she was about to run food to the table. she wiped her nose with her hand to try to remove the morsel, but after doing so found no evidence on her hand. so i guess she then decided it was okay to run the food. only after she placed the diners' plates on the table did she find the offending bit, on the rim of the plate she had just put down.

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only after she placed the diners' plates on the table did she find the offending bit, on the rim of the plate she had just put down.

gak, that set chills through my cheeks.

this thread reminded me of an instance when i worked at a certain san francisco restaurant. a waiter was packing up a doggy bag for a customer, and he took a piece of meat off the plate with his fingers and put it in his mouth! then continued to pack the food. i was so disgusted and appalled. i reported him, of course. and it felt good because he was a jerk too, but i have no idea if he was reprimanded.

dexygus
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Just like dexygus, I saw a waiter packing a doggy bag pick up a broccoli floret, dip it in sauce and put it in his mouth. Then he went about packing up the food. I was a customer at the restaurant and couldn't believe my eyes. More shockingly, the people I was with didn't think this was strange. :blink: Sometimes I can see where a lettuce leaf will brush a waiters hand at a lower class restaurant. Waitstaff with their hands in my glass, or actually touching my food with their hands is not to be stood. I also don't like waiters touching my straw. The only problem with complaining is you wonder if the replacement food will have extra "seasoning" because the waiter is upset with you. :unsure:

it just makes me want to sit down and eat a bag of sugar chased down by a bag of flour.

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I've worked in the food and beverage biz long enough. I've seen what bourdain has written about and more. Nothing surprises me anymore.

I still eat out, with knowledge and firsthand witnessing all of the above.

I don't flip when I see lipstick remains that aren't mine on my cocktail glass (not cleaned very carefully when washing the glassware).

I'm not sure why so many view waitstaff as sinister and all as revenge seekers. Sure, I know they are out there, but damn. We (as a part of FOH staff) are just too frickin busy. You know you aren't the only table we're waiting on! :wink::biggrin:

And about servers nibbling: At the beginning of the season when all the hoards return (we have about 135-150 servers at peak) and the classes of fresh newbies walk in for their first food running shift or serving follow, they all think it is too harsh when they are told right off the bat that any eating on the job is grounds for termination. (One of our sous used to go postal about seeing the chewing mouths while servers were walking around the kitchen to pick up any of their orders, get more silverware from dish, etc.! :rolleyes: ) I understand. First it is against health code because it is unsanitary and second it is contributing to food cost.

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