Don’t we all just love buffets? The impeccable crease-free cloth falling so neatly on the table, the unending display of mouth-watering delicacies, and of course, the scrumptious dessert. The best part, you get to decide how much you want on your plate! You would expect this arrangement to cost an arm and a leg, but surprisingly, buffets actually turn out to be the cheaper option! This is a would-be haven for food lovers, I imagine it’s every fat-camp kid’s dream! It all sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Well turns out, you’re right. It is too good to be true. The revelations on what happens in the kitchen will have you running for the hill! In reality, what buffet restaurants seem on the front, is a far cry from what happens behind closed doors. Due to the huge amounts of food they have to prepare, the kitchen is always a mess. The pans may fall over in pools of dirty water, the benches are always filled with half cut veggies, there’s too much prancing, a lot of heat and a lot of people shouting in a space that’s slightly bigger than an elevator. Sweat on brows or worse, streaming down from their noses are bound to make a tiny contribution to the salt level in your salad. It’s a nightmare! Welcome to the flip side of the buffet restaurant. Here are 15 nasty things about buffet restaurants you did not know.
15. The salad Zone is a no-go zone
The toppings, vegetables, and fruits like tofu, carrots, and chickpeas are likely to be reused for days. If you are lucky enough, the toppings will be used one day, refrigerated and used the next day! However this is not always the case, some salads may be repackaged for serving for up to three days!! Great detail is paid to aesthetics, of course, you would never tell by looking at the salads. It’s just a pity they don’t pay that much attention to the freshness of the food! Good thing for you, it’s easy to tell the difference. For instance, if the salad is not crispy when you bite into it, abort mission! For the sake of your poor lavatory, which will have to deal with sights, sounds, and smells of the aftermath, do not risk it!
14. There’s nothing like Fresh, Hot Fries
Let me let you in on a little secret, just because it’s hot, doesn’t mean it’s fresh. We all love to believe that our fries have been freshly peeled, fried and served onto our plates. The reality is much more horrifying. No other food gets refried as much as fries. These babies are a caterer’s dream, simply because there’s not much work involved in serving them. A caterer could cook up one large batch, and ride on it for the next three days! You can outwit them though, all you have to do is ask for fries with no salt, chances are they’re gonna have to whip up a new batch for you.
13. Don’t Get Clumsy With Your Food
We get that you went to the buffet because you were super hungry, and got a bit clumsy when you are functioning on an empty tank is understandable. If ever you drop food on the table that isn’t covered with linen, then don’t you dare pick up the food and eat it. Most buffets use the same old rag to clean the tables, transferring the same old filth from one table to the next. You don’t want to know what kind of recipes you might be inventing when you eat from the table. Same goes for trays, their cleaners rarely have time to clean them, and in case they are cleaned, it’s the same old rag that cleaned off the drool left by the drunk on the next table.
12. Truth behind the Ice Machine
Regardless of how much of a clean freak you are, tell me this: how many times do you actually clean your cooler? Well, buffet restaurants hardly get time to clean them either, since they are working 24/7. It’s even worse in their case, as a lot of perishables are stored. Therefore, there is a large chance that they end up wasting a lot of food. When they actually do decide to clean it ‘after a year’, there’s usually mold and all sorts of gooey stuff that’s removed from the filters and the ice-tray bins. The soda machines are no exception. According to an employee who’s worked in the restaurant industry for 11 years, this is often the case. How’s this for a fun fact: 80% of the time the ice machines are dirtier than the toilet water. Eew!
11. Steer Clear of Word-Play
When frolicking over the variety of foods on display, be wary of all those warm and toasty words, they are mostly meaningless, and the word “fresh” is the most abused! Fresh could mean, it’s never frozen, it’s recently been brought to the restaurant. When they specify that it’s ‘house-made’ it could probably mean that they just added some ingredients to store-bought sauces. Avoid ‘specials’ or ‘treats of the day’ since they are usually made from the previous day’s leftovers. Watch out for specials that contain fish, they’re almost always a ticket to your local clinic.
10. Don’t even think of touching the fruit
So you love the pineapple that comes with your cocktail? Avoid it like the plague! Most toppings that are served with your drinks are left on the bar without refrigeration for the entire duration of the server’s shift at work, and will probably be used on the next shift as well. And you know what happens in the case you do leave your cocktail fruit untouched? They will re-use it in the next person cocktail. After all, you didn’t eat it, it saves them the time of preparing a new fruit, and they avoid wasting in this way. Now technically, the person before you didn’t taste it, but there’s something gross about having a fruit that was on someone else’s glass before. Lemons are the worst; they will be cut up right in the morning, they’re never washed and are handled by too many people. They are the most unclean item you will ever find in any buffet restaurant.
9. Buffets are a breeding ground for bacteria
This one really is a no-brainer. All the food sits at uneven and inconsistent temperature. And with the amount of traffic a buffet experiences, you don’t know who has touched what. Just because you are clean and always wash your hands, doesn’t mean the other customers also do the same. While this might break your heart, a buffet is always full of leftover ingredients. These foods, made from scratch in bulk form, are also heavy in fat. A study that was done by Virginia University found out that some buffets don’t even use real eggs. Urgh!! If you really have to do buffets, then stick to the simple things; they are less harmful and will definitely have fewer bacteria.
8. The Employees Get Sick Too
Another traumatizing secret buffet restaurants never want you to know is that they work sick sometimes. Taking a sick day isn’t always an option. According to a study that was done by The Food Chain Workers Alliance, 53% of buffet workers testified that they go to work while sick. They will not give up $100 for their shift just because they are sick. Watch out for the chef sitting on the sidewalk, sneezing, coughing or even smoking. Chances are they are taking a breather, and not because there’s too much work; they could be ailing. What a way to get infected!
7. The Secret Plastic Glove
The gloves used by chefs will always give customers a false sense of security. What you need to know is that plastic gloves in a buffet are more lethal than bare hands. According to a restaurant expert and book writer, it’s easy for a chef to handle raw pork and move on to touching another food item. Chefs are more inclined to wash their hands when they have no gloves. The reality of the matter is that the gloves are a channel for food contamination, especially when the chef fails to change them often enough. Worse is when the same gloves are used to prepare food and then used at the cash register. It’s catastrophic!
6. Are the Bathrooms clean? Imagine the Kitchen
Assuming you want to find out how the kitchen looks like without looking like a creep, then just step into the toilets. It’s simple logic; if the bathroom is filthy and every customer is able to see it, imagine how dirty the kitchen (where a customer can’t pry into) would be. The fact that the employees need to wash their hands before getting back to work doesn’t mean that your food is clean. In case you walk into a buffet restaurant and the bathrooms are filthy, you better walk out immediately before you give into tasting one of their tasty ‘chef specials’.
5. There’s probably an ounce of fecal matter in your food
Unbelievable! Unfortunately, it is also true. Avoid the lemon and lime wedges. According to a study that was conducted by ABC News, lime and lemon are prone to picking up all sorts of nasties, and one of the grossest matter found on them is FECAL! This is in the same line as the nuts served up at the bar. Customers will go to the restrooms, forget to wash their hands and pick the nuts from the bowl. According to the research, in case you wash your hands and come back and touch anything that has been touched by someone who hasn’t cleaned their hands, you have exposed yourself to harmful bacteria. There really is no outmaneuvering this one, you just have to keep off the bowls. You are better off drinking from the toilet bowl!
4. Fake Scrambled Eggs
If you are eating from a popular big chain buffet restaurant, then there’s a fat chance that the scrambled eggs are in fact FAKE! It’s not news that for cost reduction purposes, the scrambled egg is mostly made from a type of egg substitute that comes from a mix or worse, carton. If you’ve ever witnessed a leftover puddle of milky water on your plate after enjoying your scrambled eggs, then you just ingested egg substitute. In case you won’t settle for anything but fresh and REAL eggs, then you might need to be a bit of a douche, and ask them to crack one right before your eyes. There really are no two ways about it.
3. It’s an illusion
In case you have a food allergy, it’s very important that you find out exactly what you are eating. Here’s the blow, in a buffet, you can never be too sure of what you are eating, even if they ‘label’ it. Apart from labels getting pushed around all day, the serving spoons and tongs get all mixed up at some point. In case you have a severe allergy to nuts, for instance, then you better be careful. If you have any allergy really, it’s best to avoid buffet restaurants altogether. You will never be sure of what you are eating since food is prepared in vast quantities. You cannot even confidently declare that the vegetarian food wasn’t cooked in animal fat.
2. Employees need to be reminded to uphold hygiene
Well, it’s very sad if the person preparing your food has to be reminded to uphold hygiene, it says a lot about their standards. If you have visited most buffet restaurants, then you probably have noticed the reminder asking employees to uphold hygiene like they are a bunch of retards. Most people don’t know this, but employees need to sign pieces of paper to document hygiene measures such as this. Since it’s an obligation, some employees will sign but won’t bother washing their hands, spreading their unique germs to your platter. It’s kind of like how you sign in the wrong time when you’re late to work, except in your case your lie doesn’t end up causing someone else diarrhea!
1. It’s Impossible for a Buffet restaurant to be germ-free
The buffet lover will probably not like reading this article, and they might feel most of the concerns are exaggerated. Let’s face it though, it’s almost impossible for a buffet to be germ-free. There probably are buffet restaurants that are strict about cleanliness and uphold the highest standards of hygiene, and we applaud them. But would their establishment be completely free from germs? Not quite! The worst enemy to hygiene for any buffet is the client who walks in once the doors are open for service. And it takes only one person with poor hygiene to mess it up for everyone! One way or another, the food gets contaminated. No matter how clean you are as a buffet restaurant unless your practices include frog-marching the client to the sinks to wash up, contamination at some point is inevitable!
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