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Apr132012

Per Se’s Health Grade: It Was a “B” Before They Made a Call  

 

 

$295 per person: even in New York City, land of the overpriced restaurant, you would hope that price tag would buy you  a meal prepared in a sanitary kitchen.
It may; it may not.
The New York Post recently revealed that Thomas Keller’s formidable palace of three-star Michelin gastronomy, Per Se, actually had to pull strings to get a health inspector’s “B” raised to an “A.”
The story raises a few question about Per Se’s kitchen, and a lot of questions about the ethics of the New York City Health Department.
On Jan. 31, 2012, Inspector Shauna Thompson found violations adding up to 22 points and gave the Time Warner Center restaurant a sanitary grade of “B.” But a manager at the restaurant, which is reportedly co-owned by Stephen Ross, a friend of Mayor Bloomberg, made a call to the Bureau of Food Safety. The next thing you know, the grade was upped to “A”–before the appeal case had even gone to trial, and before the restaurant would have been required to place the B grade sign in its window.
It is widely known that the health department has so much grade inflation that anything other than an “A” is unacceptable. And “Grade Pending” might as well be a picture of a rat (and not the rat chef from “Ratatouille”).
But before everyone gets up in arms about more favoritism for the one percent, take a look at some of the violations said to be involved. One of Per Se’s violations involved “storage of their ice tray.”  If that’s indicative of the violations, then maybe a non-perfect grade is not so bad.
Another violation involved a kitchen worker who failed to wash her hands after she ate a fried donut, then returned to food prep.  (In Bloomberg’s New York, the main violation here is probably eating a fried donut.) Per Se was able to successfully argue that the inspector had simply missed the hand washing.
Is one person allegedly not washing her hands an indication that nobody is doing it? Or is it a one-time thing that might not have even happened?
Even if Per Se did deserve a “B,” it probably would have had no effect on their business. How many people who may have waited months to get a reservation and are going to a meal on what is likely to be a special occasion will get to the restaurant, see a “B,” and leave? On the other hand, it is clear that the restaurant did everything in their power to avoid becoming the butt of jokes and the inevitable food industry gossip that would lead to negative publicity.
Offenses like ice cube tray storage and questionable hand-washing lead one to wonder whether or not Health Inspector Thompson was trying to impress Per Se, an NYC Legend, with her dubious power. If that were the case, though, all she managed to do was display to all the Department of Health’s weakness and the injustice of their grading system.

 

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    CHEF FARNABE - Journal - Per Se’s Health Grade: It Was a “B” Before They Made a Call
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    CHEF FARNABE - Journal - Per Se’s Health Grade: It Was a “B” Before They Made a Call
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    CHEF FARNABE - Journal - Per Se’s Health Grade: It Was a “B” Before They Made a Call
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    CHEF FARNABE - Journal - Per Se’s Health Grade: It Was a “B” Before They Made a Call
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    CHEF FARNABE - Journal - Per Se’s Health Grade: It Was a “B” Before They Made a Call
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    CHEF FARNABE - Journal - Per Se’s Health Grade: It Was a “B” Before They Made a Call
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    CHEF FARNABE - Journal - Per Se’s Health Grade: It Was a “B” Before They Made a Call
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    CHEF FARNABE - Journal - Per Se’s Health Grade: It Was a “B” Before They Made a Call

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