Each week, we take a quick, cautious look at what's going on with food TV. This week, Health Inspectors, a half-hour show about real food cooked simply and honestly by the best chefs in the world.
To paraphrase Anthony Bourdain, I like the nasty bits, the sick parts of Kitchen Nightmares when Chef Ramsey revels in the rank glory of a disgusting kitchen -- when he pulls out a furry cut of purplish meat from a bucket someone left under the sink since Easter and holds it aloft like a maggot golem celebrating a kill. "What is thaaaaaat?" he cries, brandishing the Disease at the owner.
That's great television. Nice work, everyone.
Now comes this: Health Inspectors, a whole show not about making disgusting restaurants decent, like Kitchen Nightmares, but about making disgusting restaurants compliant. You know, for when the health inspector comes.
First, let me thank the Food Network for airing a show that is not about the glory of food and the heroes of its preparation but about rot and disease and maggots and cockroaches. You're all going to hell, you beautiful bastards.
And let me thank Big Momma's Chicken & Waffles & All That Is Unclean, where neither you nor I will ever eat because of Health Inspectors. Remember, by the end of the show Big Momma's Chicken & Waffles & Rivers of Blood is merely compliant. The owner, bless him, says it looks like the day he opened. You can be sure it doesn't look like that anymore.
Without further to-do, here's some of the nasty bits that host Ben Vaughn uncovered during his visit, divided into sections. (The Internet trail of tears on host Ben Vaughn is rather thin -- he appears to be a former Memphis chef and restauranteur who was hot a couple years ago, but since then there is little to be found. I'm a little worried about Ben. Anyway:)
It Happens to the Best of Us
- Hair in chicken and waffles.
- Chicken guts on fridge, but you couldn't even tell these were chicken guts. Ben Vaughn said they were chicken guts. They could have been mustard.
- Waffle irons not cleaned, but who cleans a waffle iron? Am I right?
- Raw chicken on the same shelf as eggs in fridge. What are you, an asshole?
Not Technically Violations But Come On
- Staff bitching at one another incessantly.
- Candy-sprinkles on waffle.
- Janky white home refrigerator instead of swanky stainless job.
- Floor completely disgusting around fryers.
- Guy responsible for floor around fryers says fryers don't move.
- Host Ben Vaughn gives fryers a light shove.
- Fryers move.
- Big Momma's Chicken & Waffles, open late!
Two Vomits and a Suppurating Wound
- Host Ben Vaughn is a little concerned about all the grease covering the grease trap, so he opens it up. BAD IDEA, DUDE. Everybody dies in a river of grease.
- Host Ben Vaughn, curious about the water filling a huge sink, inquires what is inside the water in the huge sink. Oh, Ben. Do you have to know everything? It's chicken, Ben. The chicken that they're going to serve later, floating in a nice room-temp bath all the fuck-long day and getting a nice bacteria glaze so as to kill all the customers later. You OK with that, Ben? Jesus.
- In Ben Vaughn's hand, one dead roach -- but behind him, under the fridge, are hundreds, maybe thousands, and they're massing. Don't move the fridge, Ben!
- Ben Vaughn moves the fridge.
- Great show you've got here, Ben!
After all this, the owner steps in with a quick pep talk: "This is disgusting!" he says happily, because he's on TV. "Big Momma's is going to be known as the cleanest restaurant in the country!"
Then everyone cleans up the restaurant and the health inspector comes and that's the show. That's the show. That's the show. The Food Network, leading the way into ... freaking outer space. Things are finally starting to happen.
Woman looking at host Ben Vaughn cleaning the stove: "Oh man I'm not going to lie to you we didn't even know that could come apart like that."
Michael Leaverton has watched and made fun of a whole host of food TV shows. We used to list them all right here, but that list grew too goddamn long. Click here to check 'em out.