Thawing Meats at Room Temperature

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Joined Jul 9, 2018
I just wanted to revisit this topic.

I have a friend who works at a restaurant where they thaw all the meats (sausage, chicken, beef, etc) at room temperature. I think my friend should either quit or confront the chef/owner. He says that the chef would see this as insubordination and cause a bad vibe between them.

To me, it seems like a moral issue akin to working for a contractor that uses dangerously substandard building materials that could lead to a possible ceiling collapse.

What do you all think?
 
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Joined Sep 26, 2017
It depends on the item.

For example, a fillet of fish or a rack of lamb can safely be thawed at room temperature.
 
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Joined Aug 15, 2003
If you have to thaw quickly better to do it submerged in cold water with the tap dripping slightly (for convection).

Best to thaw in the fridge overnight, however. All that takes is a little planning ahead. I agree that it is alarming that the chef doesn't seem to know how to properly thaw.
 
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If this chef is what your friend has to learn from, then, he should probably find another chef to work for.

There was another thread that asked how working in this industry has changed the way I view eating in restaurants. There are a lot of people in charge of commercial kitchens who are poorly trained or just plain lazy. This instance is another reason why I rarely eat in a place where I don't know the owner or the chef.

I think your friend has an ethical obligation to say something to the chef. That "chef" may get away with it 99% of the time. But, that 1% will eventually happen and someone is going to get very sick.
 
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Joined Apr 11, 2018
Just call the county health department. Reports are anonymous and it should result in a health inspection. If they're thawing meats at room temperature or otherwise violating the code, they'll get corrected for it and the owner will be none the wiser who called it in.

That may sound like a d!ck move but really it isn't. Restaurants have a responsibility to follow safe food handling practices and the health department has a responsibility to the public to ensure food providers follow them. It's in everybody's best interest - nobody wants to get sick from food poisoning and a business who sickens their customers is going to have hard times. In my restaurant days we welcomed the health department to help ensure we were following the best practices to keep our customers (and our reputation) safe.
 
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I do it at home all of the time with meat I'm going to immediately consume, cook all of the way (165) and no more than 2 hours at room temp. In a restaurant kitchen, it's not worth the risk. If I get sick at home (unlikely but remotely possible), it'll work itself out in a day or two. If a patron gets sick, my career is over. I could be civilly liable and even criminal liable (remember the salmonella in peanut butter episode a few years back? CEO got 28 years in prison)

Sadly, I've seen it happen in the restaurant I work in. I always educate my co-workers (even my supervisors) and correct the problem. Most of my co-workers/supervisors have started following my lead and using proper thawing techniques. Some refuse to change, mainly our executive "chef" and her two cronies (all 3 are from a place with different sanitation standards than in the USA/Europe). I feel like I'm beating my head against a wall talking to them about the risk, but I'm stuck working there until I find a new job.
 
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Either though laziness or ignorance, it must be corrected.
If you and your Chef are at odds about this, you know you are right.
If this leads to your termination or you leave on your own, know it wasn't a good fit to begin with.
Chefs are supposed to lead by example. Not a very a very good one here.
 
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Joined Sep 26, 2017
Anyway... why specifically a rack of lamb?

Just as an example. A rack of lamb is small enough to be completely thawed while the outside is still cold enough to be safe, as opposed to something larger like a leg of lamb or a lamb shoulder, which cannot be properly thawed at room temperature.
 

pete

Moderator
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:smokin:smokin
I do it at home all of the time with meat I'm going to immediately consume, cook all of the way (165) and no more than 2 hours at room temp. In a restaurant kitchen, it's not worth the risk. If I get sick at home (unlikely but remotely possible), it'll work itself out in a day or two. If a patron gets sick, my career is over. I could be civilly liable and even criminal liable (remember the salmonella in peanut butter episode a few years back? CEO got 28 years in prison)

Sadly, I've seen it happen in the restaurant I work in. I always educate my co-workers (even my supervisors) and correct the problem. Most of my co-workers/supervisors have started following my lead and using proper thawing techniques. Some refuse to change, mainly our executive "chef" and her two cronies (all 3 are from a place with different sanitation standards than in the USA/Europe). I feel like I'm beating my head against a wall talking to them about the risk, but I'm stuck working there until I find a new job.
I do a lot of things at home that I'd never do in a professional kitchen!!!!!
 
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My nephew is a health department inspector (in another part of the state) and is frequently at my house with his wife and kids. He would never say anything but I make him laugh when I wear gloves when handling RTE items. He does say though that my home kitchen is better than most restaurants he inspects.
 
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