a bad day for the local "farm-to-table" movement
at my restaurant, woodfire grill in atlanta, we have since day one almost six years now supported small local farms. it has taken me more than 20 years to develop a network of growers to produce enough product for my restaurant on an ongoing basis. i value and treasure these relationships.
for the past couple of years, i have been on a mission to find local farms that are raising animals, such as hogs, beef, trout, etc. in sustainable and humane ways to supply me. i have succeeded with a couple of farms that can produce for me amazing hogs on a consistent basis, and finally, some decent grassfed beef.
these small producers really don't have the capability of supplying me with cases of "cuts" read loins, or ribeyes, hangar steaks etc. so, I feel the obligation to purchase the animals whole or in some cases primal cuts. i actually find enjoyment and pride in knowing how to butcher a whole hog, utilize every part for a different process ie; sausage, pancetta, coppa, lardo and other charcuterie.
today, a health inspector said I can't do this anymore unless i apply for a "special variance" to the code. i cannot serve my house made sausages or cured meats to my customers?? this is quite ludicrous! especially since we have not had an inspection in 18 months! the inspector started by telling me how short staffed they are. should this be my problem? i can't tell my customers that we are short staffed and expect them to feel sorry for me.
in any event, we need help here in georgia. we will never get chefs and restaurants to serve local farm raised meat products if this is how we get treated from local health officials. we were also penalized five points for having quat sanitizer on the cook's stations, in properly labeled new spray bottles, thinking we were looking out for sanitation! i would have been better off with dirty towels in plastic buckets full of water and bleach according to our inspector! just thought you should know. ciao!
Thanks Nik, trust me, if the inspector had seen the horrific mass produced processed stuff from a large distributor.....I won't give them the satisfaction of including their names here, you know who they are!
all would be good, right? just more of the same poison that makes people obese and sick. on a brighter note, the supervisors of the health department have said, that I can continue with it, they are still trying to adopt new state codes and they don't fully understand them yet.....nice! in the mean time, we still have not been "re-inspected" and we have not yet gotten our points back. I think i'll up our sausage production!
Posted by: michael | March 2008 at 12:08 AM
Keep up the good sausage work Michael. Is it safer to serve the commercial sausages filled with numbered chemicals, excessive nitrates and all sorts. Salumi is a difficult beast and needs to be looked after by experienced staff but sausages??? Surely that means you cant make pate, terrines, forcemeats, meat pies like empanadas etc Where does that logic end? In mass-produced chemical laden meat from companies that can afford to buy certification by using cheap meat and cutting corners
Posted by: Nik Mavromatis | March 2008 at 07:36 PM
Greetings and thank you Beth. Yes, it is quite crazy. I am in the process of going through channels to hopefully, get this rectified. As far as I can see, this is a case of an inexperienced inspector that misinterpreted the codes. Yes, the animals we get, in this case 100% Berkshire pork, from a small USDA approved farm near carrollton, raised with care, where they roam freely in the woods are much much better than what we have bee reading about. plus, they have 100% traceability!
Quaternary Sanitizer or Quat Sanitizer, a form of ammonium, is food safe as long as it is diluted to 200ppm, which our is. in this case, it was in a properly labeled new spray bottle. It can be used to spray on surfaces and wiped down, very handy in a food service establishment. Especially when there are proteins being placed on surfaces like cutting boards, then sliced and removed. It is a good thing to sanitize before repeating the process, especially if any time has elapsed and residues are left in place.
Posted by: michaeltuohy.typepad.com | February 2008 at 08:17 AM
I am sorry to hear of the grief you are getting for the awesome stuff you are doing. This sounds crazy to me. I bet the animals you get are not sick like the beef that was recalled!
What is quat sanitizer? Whatever it is, it sounds better than bleach.
Please post more on this, and let us know if there is a way to lend our voices to the struggle so to speak.
Thank you for the awesome food.
Posted by: beth | February 2008 at 02:00 AM
As a transplant from New York, I find myself increasingly disheartened time and time again with Atlanta. If there is anything people can do to help, please let us know. This city and our nation as a whole needs to recognize the importance of where food comes from, how it is produced and place a higher importance on food safety and traceability rather than sheer cost.
We love Woodfire Grill and appreciate your daily efforts to bring good (in every sense of the word) food to Atlanta.
Posted by: Kelly Cobb | February 2008 at 10:42 AM
I'll certainly keep you posted. next, they'll say i can't make soup, pasta, ice cream, bread etc.
it'll be one nice packaged food operation!
Posted by: michaeltuohy.typepad.com | February 2008 at 08:21 AM
This is horrible!!! Is there something we can do?
I wonder who people can contact to petition for change in shabby laws that these inspectors must follow.
I'm OSHA certified and I manage the safety practices at a couple of companies. I understand that it isn't the inspector's fault for enforcing the rules or handing the penalty but there is a level of acceptance that can be made. 5 points for sanitation is out of line in my opinion. There is a restaurant out here in Douglasville that I have never been to and never will go to due to the horror stories of filth. Woodfire is so clean everywhere. Even out at the open grill I've never seen ANY mess at ANY time.
My point is that you guys are doing a fabulous job. If there is ANYTHING that I can do or petition others to do please let me know. If you know of anyone that I can contact to petition for change please let me know.
For now I hope that you apply for the "special variance" so that we can continue to enjoy your products. I've been out of Lardo, Pancetta, and Sausage for a while now and wanted more so this is a big downer for me.
Please let me know what we can do to turn things in the right direction.
Best of luck Marc Thompson.
Posted by: MarcT | February 2008 at 07:33 AM