How Sanitary Is Your Chef?

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Ever wondered if the chef at your favorite restaurant added a little something extra—say, saliva—to your spaghetti bolognese?

Me neither.

But last night, while watching “Chopped” on the Food Network, I saw it happen. And all I can saw is “Ew.”

On the show, four professional chefs compete to create an appetizer, entrée and dessert, using a mystery basket of weirdly incongruent ingredients. Last night, one of the competitors had what the judges delicately called “sanitation issues.” First, he sliced his finger on a food processor blade and continued cooking, even as blood trickled down his wrist, onto his spoon and into the dish he was preparing. One of the show’s producers finally stepped in and made him put on gloves, throw out his work and start over again with fresh, unbloodied ingredients.

In the next round, the same chef got caught “double-dipping”: sticking a spoon in his mouth to taste his dish for seasoning, then putting it right back into the pot. The judges were aghast but sent him on to the final round with only a stern warning.

So it was shocking (and gross) to see him do it again. When the judges called him on it, the chef indignantly denied he’d double-dipped. But TV doesn’t lie. I could only conclude that double-dipping is so ingrained in this guy’s cooking repertoire that he doesn’t even realize he’s doing it.

So what does that mean for us unsuspecting diners? Back in the kitchen, away from prying eyes, do some chefs really have such a cavalier attitude about bodily fluids in your food?

God, I hope not.