The video below was taken at the Asian Garden Chinese restaurant in Littleton, NH. Although I have eaten there several times, I don’t think I will go back. Although I never had any problems myself, on one occasion, I brought my wife to this restaurant and it made her sick to her stomach, to the point where she refused to go back. She ordered chicken wings, which was different from what I usually order.
This article was prepared after interviews with many line cooks from area chain restaurants and hospitals. Every story was an eye opener but the biggest revelation was just how many cooks shared the same information.
Low pay for the cooks. Big profits for chains and hospitals
Many “line cooks” employed by restaurants, hospitals, etc. are low paid, inexperienced people with backgrounds as diverse as janitors, department store clerks… just about anyone who can read a recipe card and is willing to work for $10 or $11 per hour.
At least one local, very large and prominent hospital has a system in place more akin to a “management mafia”, where favoritism and cronyism runs rampant. Sexual and other favors often result an better pay and less care about how your food is prepared. At least a few good, qualified line cooks have quit working there because they refused to “play the game”. If they do their job, and people are happy with their food preparation, the higher paid, so-called “cooks”, who do little or nothing, feel threatened and eventually drive a truly qualified cook out of their job, through harassment.
On the more frightening end of the hiring spectrum, are recent prison parolees, people with mental health issues. Most alarming of all, drug dealers, who find working in restaurants easy access to new connections, off the street. This also occurs in hospitals as well, on a daily basis. Do you really want people preparing your food, who may have Cocaine under their fingernails, smoking pot during breaks and not washing their hands? Many pre-employment screenings these days include drug testing. But once that has passed, why aren’t there surprise checks done periodically?
The problem originates with the restaurant or business management
Low wages and little to no benefits, are the norm, even at some chain restaurants. While the managers enjoy substantial incomes and benefits, the cooks are at the low end of the spectrum and turn over is extremely high, as they bounce around from one place to another. It would seem that managers are paid handsomely just to hire anyone with a pulse to crank out the food as quickly and cheaply as possible.
In order to keep this cycle in place, a lot of important things like sanitation and proper food preparation become a low priority.
Bottom line is that many restaurants simply do not want to pay for professional cooks and will hire just about anyone willing to accept low wages. Can you imagine if this disturbing trend occurred in the medical profession? After all, food is health. Why is the safety factor being ignored?
The victims in all of this are consumers like you and I that trust these establishments, paying them to satisfy our hunger and ensure our health and safety. Probably the biggest part of the blame lies upon the State health inspectors. Our tax dollars are paying the salaries of the health inspectors to protect us from gross negligence such as this. Is there a level of corruption to consider in this as well? Why are some restaurants notified in advance of an upcoming inspection? Why are repeat offenders of unsanitary practices allowed to continue serving customers? Smells just as fishy as the day old haddock left on the counter of one of these dubious restaurants.
Like anything else these days, you probably need to know someone who works at a restaurant, who can provide a qualified referral before eating there. There are some wonderful, delightfully clean and safe restaurants to dine at, but they are the ones who are also being cheated. Filthy restaurants, uncaring employees and owners should be under intense scrutiny. Better yet, they should not be in business.
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