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Hostess Confidential: The Health Inspector Is Here

I run into the kitchen, searching for Chef. I see boiling pots, smoking grills, and line-cooks prepping their stations, but no Chef. Where the fuck is he? “Need something?” Max, the soon-to-be-sous-chef asks me. “The health inspector is here.” “WHAT?” … Read More

By / February 7, 2008

I run into the kitchen, searching for Chef. I see boiling pots, smoking grills, and line-cooks prepping their stations, but no Chef. Where the fuck is he? “Need something?” Max, the soon-to-be-sous-chef asks me. “The health inspector is here.” “WHAT?”

“The health inspector is here." “Fuck. Guys,” Max screams at the line-cooks, “put on your hats!” Then he starts yelling at the busboys. “Throw out all the breadsticks and rat-traps!” He looks straight at me. “Isabelle, get your ass downstairs and tell everyone that the food inspector’s here. We’re going to need all hands on deck. Move it!” Of course, everyone is downstairs in a manager’s meeting. For once, the fact that I used to run five miles a day is coming in handy; I sprint to the manager’s office and I throw open the door. All of the managers are sitting down with Chef at the head of the table. The general manager is mid-sentence and gives me a dirty look. I’ve obviously interrupted something. “Hey,” The GM snarls at me, “You should knock—” “The health inspector is here,” I say, hoping that third time is the charm. “WHAT?” Chef yells at me, and he leaps up from his chair and starts sprinting to the kitchen. All of the managers get up. It’s a mass exodus.

As we run upstairs, I see the busboys cleaning and sweeping all of the floors, inspecting expiration dates on milk containers, and throwing out all of the food that has been left out in the open. The cooks are washing their hands and putting their hats on. They strap on their Band-Aids, making sure that their recent cuts cannot be seen. Anyone who has ever worked in the restaurant industry knows that you are breaking health code about 70% of the time. but still, if a health inspector finds out, it's all over. “Isabelle. Where is the health inspector?” the GM asks, turning towards me as he makes his way up the stairs. “At the host podium,” I reply. The GM tucks his shirt into his pants, sweeps his hair across his face and takes a deep breath before he steps back onto the floor and greets the health inspector. The rest of us are still holding our breath.

To be continued…

Hostess Confidential is Jewcy's ongoing column about the dirty secrets of a swanky Manhattan restaurant. In the past it's tackled lovable old Jewish men, antisemitism, lecherous customers, and why you should never drink with bartenders.

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