FOOD SAFETY

Hair and a half-smoked cigarette: Six other (less) shocking tales of nasty things in food

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 March, 2015, 4:17pm
UPDATED : Friday, 27 March, 2015, 6:56pm

Hong Kong chef Martin Weir had a nasty surprise when he cut into an exploding cyst in pork collar bought from a  supermarket this week. We asked some other seasoned Hong Kong food and beverage professionals for their own stories of shocks in the kitchen or front of house. 

While none could recall anything as bad as Weir's experience, each has spent enough time around restaurants to have a tale to tell.

Food and beverage professional and former DJ Andy Curtis says he has found “hair, a bit of plastic bag, rubber band, string, and wire from a scrubbing brush”.

That doesn't surprise Christopher Gallaga, chef/manager at City’super, who says food professionals expect to find weird stuff in food all the time. In his time he has found packing foam, plaster, bits of metal from scouring pads, bits of glass, insects of every kind, and small stones.

“I once was served a dish of fried vegetables with the filter and half-smoked end of a cigarette right on top. It was at a local cha chaan teng. The server who's ear it probably fell out of just asked if I wanted something else instead.”

Jaakko Sorsa, executive chef at Nordic restaurant Finds, said: "Yesterday I found an eyelash but that kind of thing happens. It was at a Michelin-starred French restaurant.”

Richard Cook, environmentalist and former South China Morning Post journalist, found a curly hair in his fried rice at a renowned Chinese restaurant. “It was a long time ago, when the place first opened. The staff just giggled and then refused to take the dish off the bill.” Cook says, generously, that the hair could " have been an eyelash.

Empire Hong Kong founder and chef Jason Black:  “I once had a milk shake made in the "savoury" jug that was overpowered by the flavour of garlic  ..  More flavour than weird I guess.”

While this one never made it to a chef's frying pan, Harlan Goldstein, chef and proprietor of Gold, Penthouse and Sushi To, says: “Aside from worms in mushrooms and pellets in game, the only really crazy thing I’ve seen is when I’ve been out fishing and caught a shark that had swallowed three beer cans.”