This is why chefs and cooks should not go to work when sick...

Joined Aug 21, 2009
I just saw this

on the online site for our local paper.  The deli in question is actually in the mall that's a ten minute walk away from my house.  If you have any gastro issues.. stay home.. it isn't worth having public health close you down while they investigate the outbreak!

I will go in if I have a stuffy nose, a sore throat or an ear infection but if I have any stomach issues I stay home.  For one it's not worth risking passing it on to either customers or co workers and for two... I am useless if I have something wrong in my stomach/gastro area.
Joined May 5, 2010
Leeniek, a sore throat, or ear infection can make others sick as well. case in point:

A guy is making 40 gallons of sauce in a tilting braisure and he's got an ear infection.

He sticks his finger in his ear to calm an itch, and shortly after uses that same finger to dip into the sauce for a quick taste (not all cooks use a plastic spoon).

The right heat, temperature, and conditions made for a lot of people getting sick.

The place was closed down shortly after that by the health department.

It happens in real life.

On the other hand many Chefs will not allow a cook to take time off for such an insignificant thing.

A person needs to be near death to get off of work.

Therein lies our problem.

If you are a cook and you are sick, stay home. 

What about sneezing, coughing? These things come out of your mouth at a fast rate of speed and it can't be predicted where it will fly.

I know this is gross talk but in reality it is what it is. Germs going everywhere and with compromised immune systems, people can get sick from just about any bug.


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
Unfortunate because kitchens tend to run really lean.  Working the line is a skilled position which pays close to minimum wage in a lot of places.  There is no calling the temp service and asking for a grill guy.  You cannot run one cook down unless you feel like comping fifty meals.  It stinks but I don't see a solution.
Joined Aug 21, 2009
The issue with the deli was that there was no hot water available for staff to properly wash their hands.  Alot of people who either ate there early last week or attended events catered by them fell ill with stomach flu-like symptoms.  Public health closed them down temporarily but today they will be open for business again, with hot water available for staff handwashing. 

While I have only seen chefs and cooks use spoons for tasting, it doesn't surprise me at all that some just stick their less than clean finger into the pot and have a taste.  That ear infection story is just gross, and I bet handwashing wasn't a high priority in that place either. 

Yesterday I had an issue with potential contamination and the cook in question has 30 years experience in the business so one would think he'd know better.  He dropped his tongs on the floor and instead of sending them to the dish and getting a new pair he dipped them into the bucket at his station that contained clean rags and well.. contaminated all of the clean rags with whatever was on the floor.  I made him go and get new rags and he just didn't seem to get why I was being "so uptight".  Hmm.. because we use those rags to wipe down the countertops, maybe?  And yes, a shift cut is in his future for various reasons. 

While I know that alot of kitchens run lean and being down a cook can spell disaster for alot of places, where I am at right now we have more staff than we do available shifts so there is always someone to call in to work if someone calls off on their shift.  I schedule an on call person every day and it's more of a stress-reliever for us than anything else as we know we have someone who is fully prepared to come into work in the event we need him/her.  Nine times out of ten we don't need to call them in but when we do it just makes the whole day run much smoother. 
Joined Apr 28, 2003
After my accident, I was off work for a week plus a day.  I wasn't all that well enough to go back but I knew exactly what to expect upon my return; a couple people transferred from the kitchen to other areas of our operations and a couple others threatened resignation.  We don't run lean, we run under.  If it wasn't for this accident, I would have had perfect attendance this year other then my requested holidays

If I'm sick with anything, I just use vinyl gloves and wash my hands more often.  Problem is that if I'm gone for long, I probably pay for it more then if I force myself into work sick.
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