There’s an old saying that goes “buyer beware” – meaning that whenever you buy something, you’re taking a big risk. Still, we aren’t always aware of the risks when we buy stuff nowadays – especially when it comes to food at both gourmet and fast food outlets. We trust that they know what they’re doing and have our safety in mind. While most do, things don’t always go as planned. Here, then, are some restaurant secrets spilled by restaurant workers. You should stay away from these things.
The 8-Page Rule
Gordon Ramsay once said that a restaurant menu shouldn’t have more than four pages. A short menu helps cooks to focus on freshness and quality without getting overwhelmed by too many items. According to other restaurant workers, the maximum should be eight. Why?
Because if they have more than that, it means they have far too many items, which requires a whole load of ingredients that have to be stored — sometimes for a long time. The only way to get orders to customers quickly, therefore, is to precook the food. Then, microwave or boil them in plastic bags when customers place the orders.
So, depending how much you care about taste and freshness, stay away from restaurants with more than 4 pages of dishes.
The Ingredients Rule
If you find something you like on a menu, don’t order it right away – do some due diligence. Say you want a beef sandwich. Before ordering it, first look through the rest of the menu, and if you find another dish that has beef, go for it. If no other menu item has beef, then don’t order it.
When different dishes use the same item, it’ll go quickly, which forces the restaurant to order more of it — guaranteeing freshness. If only one dish uses an ingredient, and there’s not much demand for that dish, that ingredient can stay in storage for a long time — meaning it could be stale by the time you order it.
McDonald’s has been selling ground coffee for years, and in September 2018, filed a patent for its McCafé brand. However, several reddit users advised against it. These people, who have worked at McDonald’s throughout the US, claimed it a bad idea — not because of the coffee beans, but because of the equipment. They never clean it. It’s not that they don’t want to; it’s that it takes a specialist to pull it apart so they can get in there and clean it well.
One employee said, “All McCafé beverages run through a horrifically dirty machine. We’re talking 5-plus inches of uncleaned, liquid bullsh– making up its inside parts.”
That’s not the only gross machine they have, apparently. In 2017, a branch in Auckland, New Zealand, served 11-year-old Charlotte Harris an ice cream with a complementary ingredient — a worm.
They apologized after she started screaming, of course, and said they’d investigate the machine in question.
No doubt, McDonald’s has been harboring some nasty restaurant secrets. There’s been reports of worms turning up in unexpected places. In October 2017, Jasper Lee ordered a McDonald’s breakfast in Singapore. The branch clearly prides itself on freshness because after a few bites, he discovered live worms in his pork sausage patty.
Andrea Calkins got something even fresher — fly larvae in her Filet-O-Fish back in June 2017, which she ordered from a Waterford Township, Michigan branch.
At around the same time Lee was munching on his McWorm, Yasmine Batur found live maggots in the Big Mac she ordered from a Sydney, Australia branch — something a spokesperson denies, claiming that no living thing could possibly survive the cooking process.
Emmi McHugh of Queensland found the same maggots on a Cheeseburger Happy Meal she ordered for her son, which McDonald’s again denies, claiming that once food leaves their property, they can’t possibly vouch for it.
Moving away from the downright gross, here’s another tip from employees. Since McDonald’s focuses on burgers, they tend to fly off the grill. So they won’t lie around for a long time gathering dust. Not so for the chicken and fish. Apparently they cook a whole batch at the start of the day, and if no one orders them, they can stay there for a long time.
Elsewhere, their McRibs look and taste delicious, but that’s not how they arrive at franchises. They instead come in pre-frozen and look like concrete blocks.
Taco Bell’s Meat
Taco Bell has received its fair share of flack over the years — including accusations that it puts sand in meat to give it texture and that it uses only 36% beef and 64% mystery ingredients.
Fortunately, we now know that they use real meat, but what kind, exactly, is another matter entirely. What each franchise receives looks like gingerbread dough wrapped in plastic.
It looks nothing like that as soon as they put it in their food, though. Oof! That’s a relief!
Another brand to join the this list of restaurant secrets is Subway. According to a former employee, “the roast beef is so full of preservatives it’s iridescent (super shiny and rainbow-like).”
The cold cuts are no better, as they come in a syrup that allegedly smells like that part of your anatomy where solid waste comes out of. As for the black forest ham, it has “little piggy hairs … if you look close enough.”
According to someone who worked there for two years, their tuna and seafood used to come with labels claiming it didn’t contain dolphin or turtle meat. In 2012, however, the labels vanished.
To be fair, that doesn’t mean they now use dolphin or turtle meat. It just means that no one’s sure what they actually contain.
Several workers claim the chili is far from fresh. So, how is it made?
According to employees posting online, they collect the old, dried up meat scraped from the grill top — including meat that’s expired. This is thrown into the fridge till they’re ready to make chili—done by chopping it up, adding chili sauce, boiling it, and leaving it on the warmer. But doesn’t it dry up, you ask? Of course, but they have a simple, cost-saving solution — simply add more water.
Baseball Park Hotdogs
According to a former hotdog employee, they come in perfectly fine, but that’s where the problem begins. The stands sell them after grilling. Then, they store the leftover in the fridge for several days before resale.
A former seller once insisted on throwing out the water and hotdogs after two days despite protests from management. So you’re thinking — this is just one stadium, right?
Well thanks to consolidation, not really. Almost all hotdogs sold throughout the US come from only a few companies that have a monopoly on the market — Hillshire Brands Co., Tyson Foods, and Sara Lee. It’s also a given that many of these top food brands pay stadiums to sell only their brands. That means most, if not all, follow a similar system.
Gas Station Slurpees
The slurpees from gas station may not technically be restaurant secrets, but hey, you still drink them. And, they can cause some severe health issues.
These may taste good, but you could be risking more than just brain freeze. You could also come down with something nasty, since they don’t always clean them well.
The result is mold, which could potentially cause disease despite the low temperatures.
Kobe is a place in Japan that produces the most expensive beef in the world. Cows are given beer and sake – which is rice wine – to make them eat more to produce the fine marbled fat that runs evenly throughout their meat. They’re also massaged and made to listen to classical music so they’re relaxed and happy — resulting in $50 burgers and steaks selling for up to thousands of dollars.
The ugly restaurant secrets were, they were all fake! Up until 2014, they were banned in the US, and in Europe till 2017. So there’s a very good chance that the expensive kobe beef in that expensive restaurant isn’t really kobe.
In 2016, there were only nine restaurants that served authentic Kobe beef in the United States. The list has grown slightly but it still isn’t very common in the U.S. and is mostly served in high-end restaurants.
According to Alberto Morreale, executive chef and owner of Farmer’s Bottega – a high end restaurant in San Diego – he’d never eat whatever special a restaurant offers. Why? Because more often than not, those “specials” are what the restaurant is trying to get rid of.
Morreale claims that they’re usually made up of ingredients that are about to expire, so they need to get rid of them quickly. As a result, they’re offered more cheaply, and sometimes, combined with other offers to make them more attractive to diners.
According to Chef Mark Nichols, owner of JC’s Catering – a high-end business – oysters are a risky business because they contain a number of harmful bacteria like norovirus.
He won’t eat raw oysters from a restaurant if they source them from over 160 kilometers away to ensure freshness. If the restaurant is near a coast or has a good reputation for seafood, he’ll consider it. If handled or stored improperly, these delicious delicacies can apparently kill you, so its best you proceed with caution like he does.
Complementary Bread and Snacks
Although some restaurants serve their complementary bread fresh straight from the oven, not all do. It all depends on when that bread comes out of the oven. Otherwise, that basket of bread isn’t fresh. If one table doesn’t finish their share, they’ll pop the remaining bread into your basket.
According to many chefs, it’s pretty common for some of the bread in your basket to have made their rounds throughout the day. Which means that they are possibly brimming with complementary germs.
The same goes for nuts and pretzels that are a staple of many cocktail bars. Most high end ones won’t leave them out in the open as high-end chefs don’t want diners losing their appetites before the main course. Those that have open bowls full of complementary snacks are teaming with more than just salt — they’re also teaming with germs.
Just imagine how many random hands had touched. What isn’t finished is set aside and used for the next guests or even the next day.
More restaurant secrets coming from renowned chef! According to executive chef Kayson Chong, you should avoid house salads. Not only do most use ingredients that you can pick up far cheaper and make yourself, but they don’t reflect a chef’s real talents.
In other words, why pay a premium when you go out to eat if you can eat far cheaper by staying at home? Chong recommends appetizers and sides that do reflect a chef’s talent and ingenuity.
Caviar – The Expensive Restaurant Secrets
This delicacy is already expensive because it’s becoming rarer and rarer each year. According to chef Tim Carey, however, restaurants that serve them mark them up even higher till they’re no longer worth the cost.
If you really do love caviar, save money and buy them at retail stores instead, then spend what you save on a really good restaurant. Just be sure to avoid the caviar when you do.
The food industry uses ice as a way to save money—the more ice they include, the less actual drink they have to put in. Unfortunately, studies have shown that ice served at some well-known outlets like McDonald’s, Burger King, Starbucks, and KFC contain more bacteria than their toilets. Why?
Because they clean and disinfect their toilets regularly. Their ice machines are another matter, especially since they’re harder to clean. It’s also due to hygiene — not all workers wash and disinfect their hands and equipment regularly.
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Now, while I have painted a depressing picture of the food industry with some repulsive restaurant secrets, don’t let that turn you off. Most do the best they can and operate under strict food health and safety guidelines… most of the time. Don’t be discouraged from eating out, just be savvy with where you order from!
That said, do you know of any other dishes that should have made this list? Let me know in the comments down below – thanks for reading!