Flipping burgers is a noble craft and needs to be done with a thermometer, otherwise people get sick

Trash-talking elites are part of the reason Donald Trump is now U.S. President.

In the new book, Shattered, journalists Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes write that Hillary Clinton’s campaign was doomed to fail. “The portrait of the Clinton campaign that emerges from these pages is that of a Titanic-like disaster: an epic fail made up of a series of perverse and often avoidable missteps by an out-of-touch candidate and her strife-ridden staff that turned ‘a winnable race’ into another iceberg-seeking campaign ship.”

Australians are also being drawn to the right, with their own versions of Aussie-first – the aboriginal population may have some thoughts on that – in which skilled 457 visas are being eliminated.

It’s not the political drift that is surprising – Australia is a country that, as John Oliver said, has settled into their intolerance like an old resentful slipper” – it’s the response from the Group of Eight universities who wrote to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Wednesday complaining the new rules could be “extremely damaging” to academic recruitment.

Forgetting for a moment that a Group of Eight unis in a country with 23 million people is self-aggrandizing on a ridiculous scale, University of Sydney vice-chancellor Michael Spence (that’s like a university president, which is self-aggrandizing enough) told Fairfax Media, “They’re really not people flipping burgers. “If you are building world-class expertise in a cutting-edge area of science, you’re probably going to need to draw from a gene pool larger than 23 million.”

Spence, your knowledge of genetics sucks; I have a genetics degree.

In his letter to Mr Turnbull, Go8 chairman Peter Hoj said “the mere suggestion of Australia clamping down on academic mobility into Australia would be extremely damaging to academic recruitment in Australia.”

Here are my perceived limitations to academic recruitment in Australia:

  1. Get an Internet that works and is not dependent on hobbits spinning a hamster wheel. Every time it rains, the Internet goes down, because most of the connections are underground, where water pools.
  2. Offer something of value rather than appealing to money. It’s still not too late to life a life of substance.
  3. Bring Australia into the 21st century by changing laws on same sex marriage, abortion, parental leave and end-of-life.
  4. Stop casting aspersions about fast-food workers – the people who probably make your lunch Dr. vice-chancellors – and save the flipping burgers shit for your fancy club talk. Engineering geniuses still need to eat. Perhaps Australia could make it a priority that food is safe and doesn’t make people barf. The military figured this out centuries ago. Maybe universities can, eventually.

Can Jeffrey hey-now-Hank Tambor deliver the goods for Chipotle

Yup, food poisoning is always worth a chuckle. Nothing like a public health folk out there laughing at all the people barfing and undergoing organ transplants, if they’re not already dead.

But Chipotle, in its fourth makeover since hundreds got sick dating back to Nov. 2015, has decided that Jeffrey Tambor is best to persuade the gullible public that, once again, Chipotle’s food is made with integrity?

According to Austin Carr of Fast Company, it’s Chipotle’s biggest ad campaign yet. And depending on how you count, it’s also its third or fourth major brand rehabilitation experiment in the year and a half since its food-safety incidents first emerged. That speaks to the sizable challenges Chipotle is still facing as it seeks to recover its once-roaring restaurant sales—all while moving the conversation around its brand away from food safety.

But the conversation should all be about food safety.

Chipotle can’t make food safety the central point of its marketing, but it also knows that any initiative to tout its improvements or resell its brand will be viewed through the lens of its food-safety woes. “It’s a big marketing challenge,” Chipotle’s chief development officer, Mark Crumpacker, told me late last summer. “When you’re excited to go out to lunch, you’re not like, ‘Let’s go to the safest place!’”

I am.

Go do some more coke, aptly named Crumpacker.

The new web and TV spots, rolled out Monday, feature comedians Jillian Bell, John Mulaney, and Sam Richardson, who are shown in separate ads entering a house-size burrito where Tambor’s voice instructs them to “be real” because, well, “everything is real” inside a Chipotle burrito. The comedians proceed to make comical confessions, and the ads each end with a new Chipotle motto, “As Real As It Gets,” an apparent reference to the company’s recent strides in removing artificial flavors and preservatives from its ingredients.

Chipotle, instead, has initiated a significant number of changes to its food-safety program, but it has been more strategic about informing customers about them. “Our food safety is not something that I expect to drive lots of people into the restaurant, but I do think it might erase some people’s doubts and allow future marketing to be met with less objection,” Crumpacker said at the time.

Is Chipotle at the point yet where new efforts will be greeted with less cynicism? It’ll likely take another quarter before we’ll see if the campaign has an impact on sales. For now, Chipotle will have to depend on Jeffrey Tambor and company to convince shareholders that there’s always money in the burrito stand.

But, hey now: you judge.


 

KState changes handwashing recommendations

Twelve years after Chapman and I set out for Prince George, B.C., where Chapman announced his fears of both bears and jello-swim nights at the local college, and then went to Kansas State University, where I met a girl (who’s still my best friend and wife), where I got sexually advanced upon in an unpleasant manner by a professor dude, where I had lunch with the president, got a job offer, and enjoyed a great career, my former boss sent me this:

KState has changed its handwashing recommendations.

They disconnected the blow dryers in those groovy all-in-one handwashing units.

One reason I was offered the job is because I took the prez to the bathroom and showed him how shitty their handwashing recommendations were.

But that story is old.

No one should be recreating their past glory days (and if I ever quote a Bruce Springsteen song again, put me out of my misery).

Change does sometimes happen: usually not as fast as any of us would like.

barfblog.com: This note’s for you

I’m fortunate to have a partner for 11 years now who has repeatedly told me she loves me – just the way I am.

And she’s smart, and main breadwinner in our Brisbane household.

She also swears a lot more than she used too: blames it on being married to a Canadian hockey player, and taken up hockey herself.

Check your e-mail settings, I often go to your trash because I swears a lot.

Thirty years ago I had this feeling.

My hands felt just like two balloons.

By the summer of 1987, I was bored out of my mind studying Verticillium wilt in resistant and susceptible tomato lines – so much so that I would listen, not even watch, but listen, to Toronto Blue Jays games on the radio at night while I infected tomato plants in the lab and then extracted DNA.

It was a non-pharmaceutical sedative.

I decided to immerse myself in finding a bigger audience — newspapers, at the time.

When I was a gradual student back about 1986, I had started writing about science for the University of Guelph student newspaper.

Canadian daughter one was born and the next month I went to a scientific meeting to present some results about my Verticillium findings.

I spent most of my time in an outdoor patio at Carleton University, reading all I could about media and newspapers, and came up with a plan to start an alternative newspaper when I returned to Guelph.

Then I got hired as a section editor at the existing paper.

Then I became editor-in-chief.

And then I quit, and put my alternative paper plan into action.

Thirty years later, I’m going to revisit history and do sorta the same thing.

Not for ego, not for repetition, but for the same reason people wanted me to lead that other paper 30 years ago: a whole bunch of people asked me to do it.

For 25 years I have published barfblog.com and FSnet.

I openly shared this with everyone because that’s what I thought profs at public universities did.

But they had no trouble getting rid of full-professor me.

Lesson learned.

Amy and I had a visit a few months ago from a former student of mine from Ireland, who now lives in Sydney.

She told me later that I wasn’t in the right space to hear what she had to say those few months ago.

She was right.

But she recently told me, what you do is unique, people use your stuff all over the world, can you really just turn your back on all that?

Probably not.

People love food safety as long as it is free.

Universities have been good to me.

But what worked in the time of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle (the first empiricist) may not work today.

Just like we don’t want medical treatments from 2,000 years ago, providing information and the notion of the commons should also fit today.

If you see any adverts on barfblog.com, please let us know. We don’t accept advertising. We’re idealistic that way (until we go broke).

Someone will eventually pay, but until then, I’m happy to embrace the Grateful Dead model of entrepreneurship: Build it and they will come.

Oh, and I am fully aware of the hypocrisy of Neil Young singing this note’s for you, after making millions.

I try to be more grounded.

24-hour rule: Works in hockey and restaurant complaints

I often go off and prematurely hit send.

But through the contributions of more experienced coaches, I’ve come to appreciate the value of the 24-hour rule.

It means think about it, and is it really so important?

I had my first parents’ meeting of the new ice hockey season (because I have to say ice hockey in Australia) and stressed the 24-hour rule: Don’t talk to me during practice or games, don’t talk to me afterwards, give it 24 hours.

In turn, I will wait 24 hours until I say something.

Sure, this sounds like trivial maturity, but when adults and kids go to arenas, and put all that gear on, crazy things happen.

I’m the coach – and have put in the 40 hours of training, just like the 7 years of PhD training — and I am to be calm, like supervising PhD students who are freaking out.

According to Elizabeth Henson of The Advertiser, a top Adelaide restaurateur, embroiled in a fiery keyboard stoush with a customer he called “dimwitted”, says it’s time eateries “give as good as they get” when the butt of scathing online criticism.

Victory Hotel and Star of Greece owner Doug Govan let rip on Facebook after patron Jodie Clarke described the hotel as “rude and obnoxious” and “so unaccommodating” — and another, Emma-Jade Fowler, described “terrible customer service” after a booking mishap at the weekend.

Mr Govan branded Ms Fowler “dimwitted” and argued that businesses should be able to defend themselves on social media.

But disgruntled Ms Fowler described the attack as bullying behaviour and said the Sellicks Hill hotel’s response was shameful and “disgusting.”

Let’s just accept that we’re all dimwitted to varying degrees.

The Victory Hotel’s Facebook page was forced to temporarily shut down after Ms Clarke wrote about her experience at the hotel on Saturday night after the eatery was unable to accommodate her and her friends.

“You are rude, obnoxious and so unaccommodating,” she wrote on Facebook.

“We had a group booking of 17 people, yes 17 people, and every single one … has walked away disgusted.

 “And every single one of us will tell every person we know our story of your terrible service and unhelpful, rude staff. We will never be back.”

Ms Fowler wrote “terrible customer service, you should be ashamed Victory Hotel” in reference to the booking problem.

This comment elicited an outburst from Mr Govan, which he says he now regrets.

“Terribly dim-witted Emma-Jade not-sure-what-my-first-name-should-be Emma or Jade, don’t get involved in something you don’t know anything about,” he wrote.

“Imagine one of your friends told you the sun wasn’t going to come up tomorrow. Would you agree just because they were a stupid, dim-witted friend? No, you wouldn’t. If one of your friends said I went to a restaurant with 17 people and they couldn’t find my booking? Yes, if you were a dim-witted imbecile, yes, possibly.

“But if they told you the truth and said that they had screwed up their booking, maybe you wouldn’t be wasting your time writing crap. But maybe you just love seeing your name on social media.”

Ms Fowler fired back. “At the end of the day, this is bullying and it will be taken further,” she wrote.

“You should be ashamed of the way you have responded, it’s disgusting.”

The hotel shut down its Facebook page on Monday night after a barrage of comments from those involved, as well as others, were posted about the incident. It came back online yesterday and offered an apology “for any offensive comments made on Facebook”.

A link to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission complaints portal was included in the post.

21 sick with Salmonella: Australia still has an egg problem, Melbourne fairytale edition

You’ve got to be fucking kidding.

Another day, another outbreak of Salmonella traced to some Master-Chef-inspired raw egg food porn.

Paddy Naughtin of the Whitehorse Leader writes that a bad batch of eggs is being blamed for 21 people being struck down by a Salmonella outbreak believed to have been picked up at a Blackburn restaurant.

The Department of Health and Human Services and Whitehorse Council are still investigating the cause of the outbreak which affected at least 21 people who ate at the Food Republic on Blackburn Rd on March 18.

Food Republic co-owner Vanessa Lekkas said she was “genuinely distraught” for those who had been affected and was “humbled by their understanding” .

“In almost 30 years of working in the industry we’ve never seen this happen,” Ms Lekkas said.

“We get hundreds of boxes delivered each week, and it looks like one of those contained a bad batch of eggs.

“We’ve been fully transparent with the council and health authorities, and they’ve seen our food handling processes are up to scratch.

“We’ve been told the investigation is now looking at the farms where the eggs came from,” Ms Lekkas said.

Ms Lekkas said the Food Republic would no longer be serving food made with raw egg products.

Why the fuck didn’t they stop years ago?

There’s been plenty of outbreaks, plenty of publicity, but, humans being humans, they think it won’t happen to them.

I get that.

So in the interest of public health, Australians, stop serving raw egg dishes.

And food porn chefs who are food safety idiots, fuck off.

Your wellness guidelines are making people sick.

Health-types, up your game.

A selection of egg-related outbreaks in Australia can be found here.

Heston still don’t know food safety, and Aust. viewers thought he was on acid

In late February 2009, complaints from customers who suffered vomiting, diarrhea and flu-like symptoms began pouring celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal’s UK restaurant, the Fat Duck.

A report by the UK Health Protection Agency concluded that 529 patrons paying a ridiculous amount of money for food-porn styled dishes were sickened with Norovirus – this at a restaurant that only seats 40 patrons per night — introduced through contaminated shellfish, including oysters that were served raw and razor clams that may not have been appropriately handled or cooked.

Investigators identified several weaknesses in procedures at the restaurant that may have contributed to ongoing transmission including: delayed response to the incident, the use of inappropriate environmental cleaning products, and staff working when ill. Up to 16 of the restaurant’s food handlers were reportedly working with Norovirus symptoms before it was voluntarily closed

Last night, Heston appeared on Australian current affairs program, The Project, and left hosts and viewers scratching their heads.

Appearing on the show to promote the announcement of the world’s 50 best restaurants, Blumenthal was asked a simple question by Waleed Aly but gave the world’s most confusing answer, with some viewers joking he might have been on “acid.”

“What is it that makes a great restaurant?” Aly asked.

“This might seem a little tangential,” Blumenthal replied, which turned out to be the understatement of the year.

“Human beings became the most powerful species on the planet because through being able to imagine things that don’t exist we created shared beliefs. So all the things that happened after humans: religion, money, language, cultures, social media, fairy tales, they are very human being.

“The reason that happened was the brain trebled in size for lots of reasons but primarily through eating cooked food. It broke the food down and our gut changed and this [touches head] is on top of our body to protect, because this [touches neck] is where the next generation are prepared for life.”

Blumenthal’s answer was met with blank stares from The Project panelists, but the celebrity chef pushed on.

“And so the thing, we should be called omnivores or herbivores, we’re coctivores … we are interdependent beings,” he said.

“We’ve been able to work collectively in numbers larger than any other creature and our efficiency in group learning has become quicker, quicker, quicker, quicker. We don’t have to climb a mountain to get water every day, we don’t have to kill an animal to the death to feed our children.”

The Project’s resident smarty pants, Waleed Aly, interjected and said, “That explains why we like restaurants, but how do we tell the good ones from the bad ones?”

And Blumenthal was off again.
“We have two universes,” he said.

“We have our internal universe, our human being and we have our human doing. We have our feelings and our emotions and then we have getting on in life … The problem that’s happening is we are confusing the two things. We are thinking that our happiness is going to be developed by a numerical system … thank god we have because that’s what’s got us to where we’ve got to.

(Hang in there, it’s almost over)

“There’s a palliative care nurse that wrote a piece in The Guardian last year, the most common things, regrets people had while they were passing away and it was they wished they lived a life true to themselves,” Blumenthal said.

“If every human being had an ambition not to have that feeling, and that’s because our new brain that came from eating cooked food … starts to fade and then our raw emotion comes through and we realise, actually, this is about emotion. Food is about emotion.”

Food is also about sustenance, enjoyment, socializing, and not making one barf.

Heston is a master of both food and words to make one barf.

Chipotle: Food safety idiots

Rather than focus on the things that make people barf – which Chipotle should know all about – they are now claiming it is the only national restaurant brand without added colors, flavors or preservatives on its entire menu.

l“We have always used high quality ingredients and prepared them using classic cooking techniques,” Steve Ells, Chipotle’s founder and CEO, said in a statement.

“We never resorted to using added colors or flavors like many other fast food companies do simply because these industrial additives often interfere with the taste of the food. However, commercially available tortillas, whether they are for us or someone else, use dough conditioners and preservatives.”

Chipotle now says it uses only local and organically grown produce as well as meats from animals raised without hormones or non-therapeutic antibiotics. None of the 51 ingredients in the restaurant’s foods have been genetically modified but the company still sells soft drinks that contain GMO-containing ingredients.

The company has even released a visual ingredient statement – allowing customers to see exactly what’s being used to create their Chipotle dishes. 

Good luck with that.

Like many other food safety types, I will continue to avoid. Chipotle’s emphasis on marketing bullshit – 21st century snake-oil — rather than safety shows how much they have jumped the shark.

If Chipotle thinks corn, or any of their other ingredients, isn’t genetically modified, then they’re drinking their own jello.

 

Steak tartare: A special kind of stupid

A favorite line in the ice hockey linesman course I take every year to be recertified is, “that player exhibited a special kind of stupid”

Cooks and purveyors of food porn exhibit their own special kind of stupid, especially around raw beef.

The N.Y. Times continues its long history of bad food porn-based advice because, they’re New Yorkers, and they are their own special kind of stupid: at least the uppity ones.

Gabrielle Hamilton writes in the New York Times Cooking section that a hand-chopped mound of cold raw beef, seasoned perfectly, at around 3 o’clock in the afternoon on New Year’s Day, with a cold glass of the hair of the Champagne dog that bit you the night before, will make a new man out of you.

Hamilton writes the recipe calls for 8-10 ounces highest-quality beef tenderloin … and to nestle each yolk, still in its half shell if using raw, into the mound, and let each guest turn the yolk out onto the tartare before eating.

Nary a mention of Shiga-toxin producing E. coli or Salmonella or Campylobacter.