You could be one of the world’s most elaborate and creative chefs, capable of producing brilliant combinations of flavor in the finest of exotic cuisine. None of that will matter if you are not able to stay safe when you cook. Ask any customer. If given the choice between delicious food and not getting food poisoning, everyone’s going to choose the latter. Also, most chefs would prefer to keep their kitchens in tact, rather than burning them down. These are the kinds of very real concerns of events that really can happen if the chef is negligent. If you don’t consider food safety a priority, your career in the food handling business will surely be short lived. So without wasting another millisecond, let’s get down to business. Here are the bare bone basics of food safety, that every chef should know whenever stepping foot into a kitchen.
1. Appliances: Do a rundown of your kitchen. Take a close look at all cords and wires to your appliances. Anything damaged or frayed must be replaced. That includes your microwaves, blenders, toasters, or anything else that must be plugged in.
2. Pots and pans: You should never leave anything on the burners that is not actively being used. More importantly, you should never leave anything unattended while it is cooking. The world is busy, especially in restaurants. You don’t know what kind of distractions you’re going to encounter as soon as you step away from the task at hand. Also, if your pots have rubber handles, do not place them above a flame or they will melt. They’ll also burn your hand if you touch them.
3. Clothes: Be conscious of what you’re wearing, and that’s not for fashion purposes. Long sleeves are hazardous and cumbersome. Loose clothes in general have higher potential for rubbing up against something hot or sharp. And in any case, you will be by the fire for much of your time in the kitchen. So leave your sweater at the door and let the fire keep you warm.
4. Flammable materials: Towels, oven/pot mitts, paper towels, clothes you’re not wearing, or anything else that could potentially catch fire should be kept away from the stove whenever they’re not being used. If you need to dry your hands, step away from the stove first. These items should also be kept away from ventilators and heaters as this can also cause them to ignite. Meanwhile any time a flame is burning, either on the stove, in the oven, or at the table on a candle, someone should always be present. Always. The second you step away is the second disaster strikes. And of course, in the event that something does happen, you must always have a fire extinguisher handy and know where it is at all times.
5. Knives: Most importantly, remember to angle the blade so that you’re cutting away from your body. The same goes for where you put your hands. Even professionals slip up sometimes, and when that happens, these precautions are what will save you a trip to the hospital. Furthermore, in the interest of avoiding any such slip up, make sure to sharpen your knives as often as possible. The sharper the knife, the easier the cut (that also means the deeper the wound if you aren’t careful). Another tip, always use a cutting board if you don’t want to contaminate your food and ruin your counter top. And always keep your knives clean. As soon as you opt not to thoroughly wash that blade after cutting raw meat is precisely when your customer sues you for giving him or her salmonella or E. coli.
That should be enough to get you started. But if you really want to become a food handling wizard with all the necessary safety knowledge, you’re going to have to sign up to get your certificate. Call 561-703-7196 for information on how to register.