This weekend Thomas Keller and his three Michelin-starred New York City restaurant Per Se released a statement on the infamous health inspection that landed them with a pending 'C' grade last month. Along with a statement, Keller has also released the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) Tribunal Report (PDF), which describes in detail the various infractions the inspector says Per Se committed and a judge's ruling on them. Several were dismissed.
Just as DOH skeptics like the Post's Steve Cuozzo suspected, many of the infractions reported seem "criminally ludicrous." Among such charges is the claim that a chef was drinking "an open ceramic cup of coffee while being directly over the preparation counter." Per Se contests that the coffee drinker was chef de cuisine Eli Kaimeh who stated at the hearing that he "obtained the coffee from the service machine after a conversation about the temperature of such, with the Inspector. The Inspector then proceeded to issue a violation for the manner in which he had consumed the beverage." The judge dismissed the charge. Another dismissed claim stated that Per Se was hiding its 'A' letter grade behind a "large green bush plant."
In the statement, Keller says he will appeal one of the claims that were sustained: "Potatoes that were in the process of cooking in a pan of canola oil registered between 112- 118F , which is below the hot food recommended temperature of 140F (as per Pommes Rissolee, a classic French technique used for generations in kitchens around the world)." Keller says he "continue[s] to stand by our chefs, our cooking techniques and our methodologies" and that the inspection is "the unilateral perspective of one inspector."
The New York City DOH has been especially active among high profile restaurants of late, it seems. After prolonged trouble with the DOH, Danny Bowien temporarily shuttered Mission Chinese Food this past November. And just last week the DOH shuttered Dominique Ansel Bakery, stopping Cronut production after a video surfaced on the internet showing a mouse in the kitchen. The tribunal report from Per Se is below. Go, look:
· Per Se DOH Statement [TKRG via Eater NY]
· Thomas Keller Speaks Out on Per Se's Pending 'C' Grade [-E-]
· All Thomas Keller Coverage on Eater [-E-]