Mario Batali is fed up with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene — the celebrity chef will be installing secret alarm systems in his restaurants to alert employees when a food inspector enters.
According to a report by the New York Post, a button at the hostess desk rings an alarm in the kitchen, tipping workers so they can throw out whatever food they are working on and go on break before the inspector can get there.
Without food, chef or kitchen employees, inspectors have less to evaluate and fewer reasons to hand out fines. Food being held at the wrong temperature, for example, is one common fine that Batali is reportedly hoping to avoid. A poor showing in front of the food inspector can easily result in thousands of dollars in fines and a downgrade in a restaurant’s letter grade.
Critics say the city food inspectors are simply trying to generate revenue — Fines have reportedly jumped from $16 million in 2006 to $45 million in 2012.
Batali’s eateries — Babbo, Lupa, Del Posto, Eataly, Manzo, Esca, Bar Jamon, Casa Mono and Otto Enoteca — have all been given “A” ratings, despite some failed inspections in the past.
Batali could face a 28-point violation if the Health Dept. determines that he is purposely evading inspectors.