Don’t visit our kitchen, visit our bathroom – 05/26/2023 – Cozinha Gross
This week, we found out that 35.4% of the restaurants that deliver via iFood in the city of São Paulo are dark kitchens.
In other words, operations that do not serve in situ, they only prepare food and send it out by bikers. Ghost restaurants typically occupy ugly, anonymous warehouses.
There is a long list of possible objections to dark kitchens.
Many incur some kind of ideological falsehood. They make the customer imagine a house with tradition, nonno’s pizza, recipes from generations and similar illusions – when everything boils down to an astute investor who rented a square in a shed with an eternit roof.
Competition puts face-to-face restaurants at a disadvantage. Without the cost of waiters, plates, bowls and cutlery, with cheap rent, dark kitchens charge much lower prices.
But, in the end, that’s life. There’s nothing illegal about that.
One of the most scathing criticisms, by the way, concerns the legal limbo in which these kitchens operate. Last year, the São Paulo City Council approved a set of rules, but there is still a lot of things that are not regulated.
The opacity of the dark kitchen –not by chance, the terms that define it refer to something obscure or mysterious– is a frequently objected point.
It is alleged, for example, that the customer has no idea what is going on in the kitchen. If it’s clean, if it’s minimally salubrious.
Then I answer: what about old-fashioned restaurants? Anybody know?
In São Paulo, since 1994, restaurants are required to nail a sign to the wall with the phrase “visit our kitchen”.
As a customer, I’ve never looked at the sign and thought, “Good idea, I’ll visit.” I don’t know anyone who has done it. Not even my mother, obsessed with cleanliness, considered visiting any kitchen.
No one visits “our” kitchen because no one wants to spoil the eating out program.
True as all good commonplaces, the heart does not feel what the eyes do not see. We overlook a lot of signs of untidyness. We like the food, we like the place, we don’t care.
Furthermore, visiting the kitchen would disrupt the operation of the restaurant and your own dinner. You would have to cover your hair with a ridiculous little cap. I would be at risk of accidents with bubbling pans in a small space. Total hole.
As a journalist, I have visited many kitchens. Always with prior planning, everything very controlled. Still, I saw things I wish I could unsee.
A penny of advice: leave the supervision of the kitchens to the inspectors. If the restaurant is so grimy that it bothers you, stop going there. Exposing yourself to the sanitary horror will not do you any good.
If you insist on a reliable measure of hygiene, visit the restroom of the place. When he’s dirty, so is the kitchen. Another commonplace that doesn’t usually fail.
Sorry for the obviousness, this doesn’t work for delivery. Ordering food is always a long shot, whether it’s dark kitchen or any other restaurant.
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