Celebrity chefs rack up health code problems at restaurants

Health Inspections.com reports that on a recent health inspection, Chef Emeril Lagasse’s Miami restaurant was hit with 13 critical violations that could make customers sick.

The restaurant was cited for violations such as foods at dangerous temperatures, hygiene violations, and foods not stored properly.

The television program Inside Edition found that restaurants connected with many famous TV chefs have significant health violations.

Inside Edition even video taped mice running freely at BLT Fish in Manhattan, operated by Laurent Tourondel who has appeared on the Iron Chef television program.

I’m not surprised. A 2004 paper we published based on 60 hours of detailed viewing of television cooking shows found that an unsafe food handling practice occurred about every four minutes, and that for every safe food handling practice observed, we observed 13 unsafe practices. The most common errors were inadequate hand washing and cross-contamination between raw and ready-to-eat foods.

Among the violators:

Anthony Bourdain: The restaurant Les Halles in Coral Gables, Florida was shut down by inspectors 3 times since 2006 for dangerous violations. In the last inspection, the inspector noted 30 fresh rodent droppings on a baking rack.   Bourdain is the ‘chef-at-large’ for the restaurant.

Mario Batali: His "Spotted Pig" restaurant in New York was found to have mice and insects. On two prior inspections, there were a high number of critical violations that required inspectors to come back for follow-ups.

Wolfgang Puck: At his Spago Café in Vegas, nasty employee lockers were found to have roaches. There were also violations for a dirty food slicer, foods at the wrong temperature, and employees not washing properly because of a lack of soap.

Celebrity Chef Todd English has the worst record of the TV cooks. His three Boston restaurants have consistently failed inspections. One of them, known as Kingfish Hall, has failed five inspections since January of 2007.

Paula Dean’s restaurant "Lady and Son" in Georgia had consistently high scores on health inspections.

The Inside Edition story on celebrity chefs who don’t quite make the grade is available at: