To the Editor:
Your article of January 10, “Ram Kitchen Sort of Gets a pass,” was unnecessarily vague, alarmist, and thus did a tremendous disservice to the many people who work hard to maintain the highest standards of cleanliness in the Student Centre kitchen.
Although your article did list the infractions as they appear on the Toronto Public Health website, you made little effort to describe the precise nature of the infractions, all of which were minor. For instance, your article lists Toronto Public Health’s finding that adequate measures were not taken to control pests in the Student Centre without clarifying that the ‘pests’ in question were three of four fruit flies that were not actually found in the kitchen! The other findings were of a similarly minor and/or questionable nature. In fact, as dedicated and passionate chefs with over forty years of experience we feel that Toronto Public Health completely overreacted. Indeed, we have worked in numerous kitchens — including some five star establishments — and we feel strongly that the standards we maintain here at the Student Centre are as-high or higher than they are anywhere else. This is why we took particular exception to the comments made by Noreen Schonfield, which you chose to publish. We work hard to ensure that every plate of food we put0out is of the highest quality possible and is prepared in a clean and hygienic environment. We have also found that our managers at the Student Centre are all equally committed to this high standard. Indeed, workers and managers at the Student Centre worked collaboratively to pro-actively identify potential problems and to resolve them before they occur. We believe that this history of pro-active behaviour is why Toronto Public Health returned quickly as they did to issue a passing grade — they had every confidence that ALL of the infractions they cited would be promptly, conclusively, and consistently handled. We only wish that your reporter could have been more enquiring; your readers deserve more context and perspective than your story delivered; the real infraction here has to do with the dirt you tried to sling, the reputation you tried to sully, and the dedicated and hard working people whose efforts you ignored and whose jobs you tried to place in jeopardy.
Respectfully, Chris Iler and Pauline Allen
A note from the Eyeopener: We believe that our story was fair, accurate and stated facts without any attempt to sling dirt or jeopardize jobs. Grievances with Toronto Public Health’s finding are with the agency, not us. We would also like to note that two of our staff members work at the Ram and Oakham Cafe, and being only one floor up, our staff eat at both locations frequently and without worry.