Confessions of ... hospitality workers

Inside stories of Kiwis at work

Sometimes, food establishments work on a 'what you don't know won't kill you' basis. Photo / Thinkstock
Sometimes, food establishments work on a 'what you don't know won't kill you' basis. Photo / Thinkstock

The burger-flipper - It was summer when one of our insiders packed her bags and headed off to a busy beach town to work part-time at a takeaway joint. However, the part-time hours soon turned into full-time as the store was rushed off its feet with tourists, party-goers and hordes of passengers from cruise ships. The chaotic times resulted in a disgusting slip in hygiene standards. The floor was covered in grease and dirt, with cleaning the last thought on the workers' minds as they frantically pumped out fries, burgers and shakes. "I was on the chicken station, where patties would fall on the ground, be picked up and put back on the buns. Most of the staff saw this, more than one person did it but no one got in trouble." Our insider says she has since worked at a central Auckland branch of the takeaway chain where hygiene standards are strictly enforced.

The fine-dining chef - One chef says indulging in "food recycling" is common, although his restaurant at least attempts a bit of hygiene - "If something falls on the ground we will usually chuck it on the frying pan for a few seconds to get the germs out and then serve it." He says restaurant customers expect high-quality food to be ready in the time it takes to make a microwaved meal.

If something falls on the ground it is easier to adopt a "what-you-don't-know-won't-hurt-you" policy instead of risking an impatient customer complaining to management (or worse, social media). As for that daily special? "It's either food that is going off soon or when we have ordered too much of something."

The inner-city waitress - A waitress at a busy restaurant and bar recalls when leftover sausages from her bar's sausage sizzle made their way on to the special board. "These were cheap sausages that we had given out for free the night before for some event. The next night we had too many left over so the chef made up some exotic-sounding Hungarian special with mashed potato and we sold it for around $17." She says wait staff were given the incentive of free dinner for whoever sold the most. At the start of each month restaurant and bar staff are obliged to take part in a meeting and tasting where incentives are doled out - the top wine seller usually receives over $100 in prizes. "I can only think of one time when I was genuine about liking the wine I was so sweetly recommending to customers, otherwise I was just trying to get that prize."

- NZ Herald

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