Celebrity chefs suck: UK Masterchef winner’s Mexican restraint chain Wahaca loses almost £5 Million after outbreak of noro hit staff and customers forced nine branches to close

This Is Money reports Mexican restaurant chain Wahaca has plunged into a £4.7m loss, blaming a norovirus outbreak which forced it to close nine restaurants.

The chain, which was founded by 2005 MasterChef winner Thomasina Miers, said sinking into the red was partly due to one-off costs of £700,000, which sent profits down from £600,000 a year earlier. Around 160 customers and a quarter of Wahaca’s staff were taken ill in October 2016 after it was hit by an ‘unprecedented’ outbreak of Norovirus.  

In all 18 of the 25 restaurants were hit and 11 including Canary Wharf, Covent Garden, Oxford Circus, Soho and White City, all in London, had to close. 

Wahaca co-founder Mark Selby later admitted it ‘changed the way they did business’.

He said July last year: ‘We’ve had to make some tough calls with our suppliers. We’ve had to say, we have to have absolute visibility or we can’t work with you.
At one stage we thought we were going to have to close every restaurant for four weeks,’ says Selby. ‘During that time sales plummeted 45 per cent, but if I’d had to close all sites, I don’t see how we would have survived.’ 

Selby got together with Thomasina Miers, the 2005 winner of the BBC’s MasterChef series, and together they opened the first Wahaca in Covent Garden in 2007.

Another worry for the chain is immigration post-Brexit. Only a quarter of Wahaca’s 1,200 staff are British. 

Selby said: ‘[We] opened in Chichester and found it really hard to find staff to work there, even in management.’  

Food safety fairytales: With over 400 sick, Wahaca says ‘we have never had such an unprecedented incident’

Mark Selby and Thomasina Miers, the co-founders of Brit-Mex restaurant chain, Wahaca, write that last week a number of our staff and customers were struck down by what is suspected to be the winter vomiting bug, norovirus.

wahacaWe assessed each case and when it became clear they were not isolated incidents, we got in touch with relevant officials at Public Health England and Environmental Health Offices. In tandem with that, we took our own precautionary measures – voluntarily closing affected restaurants, carrying out anti-viral deep cleaning at all of our restaurants, whether affected or not, and ensuring that any staff member who had reported illness remained off site until their symptoms had ceased for at least 48 hours.

Our amazing teams have worked tirelessly to ensure that we have done everything within our power to limit any risk to our customers and team members, and the situation remains under control and we continue to work with all local authorities to monitor this closely.

The majority of our restaurants are open and we hope to reopen the 4 remaining sites, on a case by case basis, as soon as we feel we are ready to do so.

We are incredibly sorry that people have been unwell. In the 9 years since we first opened Wahaca we have never had such an unprecedented incident, and we are doing everything we can to get to the bottom of how this may have happened.

And monkeys may fly out of my butt.

Winning food awards isn’t the same as not serving poop.


‘MasterChef Australia’ ad achieves new low in sexism

If Colbert doesn’t see color, I don’t see gender (and Colbert said much the same thing when interviewing NASCAR driver and Go-Daddy spokesthingy Danica Patrick last night.

According to Huffington Post, people never seem to tire of discussing the role of women versus men in the kitchen. There are books, columns and incessant panel discussions on the subject. While there are some hard truths — such as the fact that the restaurant industry is largely amy.thermometer.05dominated by males — there are obviously many talented, hardworking and dedicated female chefs. That last sentence shouldn’t even have to be written, except for the fact that a new ad for “MasterChef Australia” seems to have set feminism back at least several decades. But it isn’t just females that should be offended by this ad — males are also reduced to silly, out-of-place archetypes as well.

Before we moved to Australia, I told Amy, it’s a lovely place, but it incredibly sexist and racist. Far more than you’d expect. The racism thing got covered by John Oliver last week, when he observed, “Australia turns out to be a sensational place, albeit one of the most sorenne.food.apr.13comfortably racist places I’ve ever been in. They’ve really settled into their intolerance like an old resentful slipper.”

Now one of those shows I refuse to watch because cooking is something to be done, with sons and daughters, and not watched while developing a lard–ass., MasterChef, has taken care of the sexism bit.

“The average woman cooks 1,000 meals per year. Men can’t compete with that.”

“All the top chefs in the world have one thing in common. They’re all men!” So it’s pretty clear from this line and the previous one that the women competing in this show are considered home cooks, whereas men are given the loftier title of “chef.” Also note that the men appear to be barbecuing, because nothing says “I’m a talented chef” like throwing some raw meat on the grill.

“Men are more experimental. A woman can multitask.”

Exact opposite in my family.

And in true Aussie fashion, MasterChef judge Gary Mehigan has promised the new series, Girls v Boys, has not gone down the path of being a reality soap opera that appeals to “bogans.”

Save the rhetoric, show the data: cooking show wannabe shows how little some cooks know

Intertubes have prevented so many bar fights.

In the past, someone would assert John Fogerty was singing, “There’s a bathroom on the right,” when he was really singing, “There’s a bad moon on the rise.”

Now, check the web, lyrics are there, punches avoided. But arguments in the absence of data continue, predominantly on dumb cooking shows.

The MasterChef franchise has extended to Australia and New Zealand. I don’t watch it but saw this story from the New Zealand Herald where the eliminated contestant made protestations that his chicken was perfect, while the judges disagreed.

“Controversial MasterChef contestant Tony Price has hit out at the reality show’s judges after he was eliminated for serving "slightly undercooked" chicken.

“Price was told he was being sent home after last night’s tense cookbook challenge because his spicy Spanish chicken dish was undercooked.

But Price – who sparked a nationwide debate about "narking" after dobbing in two contestants for cheating in last week’s Singapore-based challenge – today told nzherald.co.nz his chicken dish was "cooked to perfection."

"I knew then that I didn’t serve undercooked chicken and I still know now that it wasn’t undercooked," he said.

"It was moist all the way through. It was in an oven at 200 degrees for 35 minutes – that’s after I’d browned it off in a pan – then it went into a resting oven for another 30 minutes at 70 degrees.

"It can’t not have been cooked – it’s a matter of physics and maths."

Price, an Auckland resident who is now cooking fulltime, said the judges should have criticised him for putting them at risk of salmonella – a food bug which can be caught by eating raw chicken.

"If (chicken) isn’t cooked, you can’t eat it. That’s a black and white thing. If it wasn’t cooked through enough to get me eliminated, they should have been slamming me for having put them in a dangerous situation (because) they ate so much of it.

There’s an easy, data-based solution: use a tip-sensitive digital thermometer.

I have no idea what narking or dobbing mean.  

Raw meat is risky but I’m sticking to my plan; that’s what chefs do

I wasn’t even watching. I had Family Guy on in the background while I marked assignments, and it went to that Gordon Ramsay show, Masterchef.

That’s when I heard one of the chef wannabes said, “Working with raw beef is risky but I’m sticking with my plan.”

The plan was to serve some beef tartare tart things, and one chef used a blow torch to warm it up (which did nothing to the inside of the tartare). Another judge said, serving raw meat is a really bad idea.

The hundreds of guests weren’t dumb: 100 per cent choose the beef Wellington over the tartare.