Food & Beverage Department – Kitchen Operations – Part 1 cont.

by Egi Gaisie

In reality, kitchens in hotels, stand-alone restaurants and indeed all kitchens are expected to be ‘no-go’ areas for none-kitchen personnel unless authorized. That reminds me of a surgery room, right? Signages such as these below will be the first, we should expect to see as we make our way to a hotel kitchen. 

I recently found myself in a situation where I had to wear the nose-mouth mask almost all day for about 3 days! I wondered if kitchen personnel would be excused from wearing the mask, so curiosity sent me looking globally and I realized I was not alone in the concerns I had: 

“Have you ever worn a face mask for eight hours straight?” chef Dennis Leary of Sentinel sandwich fame asked back in March, in a cast-aside comment that was enough to make anyone stop breathing for a moment. Everyday eaters might only don masks for an hour or two, for a quick trip to the store or walk in the neighborhood, but essential workers had to get comfortable fast, especially cooks who work in hot kitchens…”  

“Kitchens are hot, uncomfortable places to work, and they have only gotten more uncomfortable with new guidance from OSHA, which has trickled down many states and municipalities through their health departments. These guidelines recommend PPE for all workplaces, including kitchens…”  – Do Cooks have to Wear Masks?

Then I came across masks specially made for the kitchen.

The “wake up and fight” mask for kitchen

 I am beginning to empathize with my colleague professionals. Let’s listen in to some chats. 

“Sometimes you think the mask is going to catch on fire,” said owner Rocco DeFazio. 

“The best place is the walk-in” cooler, said Krista Espinal, chef de cuisine of Yono’s and dp: An American Brasserie in Albany. “You’re pretty happy to be in there.” 

“A couple of my guys (have glasses), and they hate how much they fog up from a mask,” Pang said. 

“It’s hot, stuffy and often hard to breathe,” said Kevin Hsu, chef-owner of Pebbles Asian Fusion in Latham. But, he added, “Now that wearing a mask has become a habit, I’m used to it. I think it’s an act of responsibility.”  – Too hot for a mask? Try working in a restaurant kitchen

Currently there is no evidence that the virus that cause COVID -19 spreads to people through food. However, my search confirms the need to adopt the new normal practices of social distancing and wearing of the mask even in the kitchen!  

Personal hygiene and food safety practices are not new to professional kitchen operations. Indeed, if I have to single out a hotel department which is steeped into enforcing hygienic practices, it is the food and beverage department. It is the only department where we literally EAT; put (food) into the mouth and chew and swallow it and DRINK; put (a liquid) into the mouth and swallow. 

Part 2 follows next week...

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1 comment

Pat A Boadu-Darko November 12, 2020 - 10:00 am

Thanks for answering a wuestion that’s been on my mind….about the safety of our food in restaurants and hotels.
Good to know the chefs and those who handle our F &B wear masks.
A shame the masks are that uncomfortable in the heat..we appreciate their efforts to keep our F&B safe from covid.
I’m wondering …how often are they tested as covid has an incubation period?


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