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Today was a big day in the life of the Hollyblue Bakery – the day of the food hygiene inspection! Having had a couple of months to think about today, I have to admit I was massively nervous. It’s not like I’m a stranger to food hygiene inspections; I worked as a pub assistant manager for a couple of years, so I’ve seen my fair of inspectors cast their beady eyes over my kitchens. Of course, at the pub you never knew you were being struck until you opened the door and a grim looking person flashed the dreaded card. Naturally, back then had I known it was them I would have staged a freak flood / power cut / terrorist attack / rapture rather than open the door. Now however, it was not a slap on the wrist from my boss I was risking, but the very existence of my own fledgling business. And there was no create-your-own-rapture kit to hand!

To make things worse, I had no idea what to expect. This was not an industrial kitchen with nicely day-dotted food in order in the fridge and carefully labeled cleaning products ordered from the same supplier as every other commercial kitchen in the world seemed to buy from. I clean with Flash kitchen, and although I try to clean out the fridge, I can’t get my darling housemates to day-dot their leftovers. Most of the time I can’t even get them to eat them before they start growing! What exactly do the authorities expect from a small home-catering business anyway?

Thankfully, the inspector was really friendly, and was fairly understanding about the challenges of working in a shared kitchen. We mainly chatted, which surprised me as I had kind of expected her to snoop around a bit and try to find dirt or something. I guess with hindsight, the most important thing is that I understand how and why to follow certain practices day to day, not that I can present a clean kitchen for a one-off inspection. The only things she really wanted to see was the fridge, my cupboard, cleaning products and training certificates, which were all fine, thankfully.

In the end I got a very satisfactory 4 stars; the inspector said she’d like to give me 5 but unfortunately because of structural weaknesses in the kitchen, she couldn’t. Since sadly I’m never going to get my Landlords to rip up the wooden floors or put in an extra sink, I think I’m going to have to be content with that.

Even though it was a bit stressful, the experience was actually reassuring in a way. It’s nice to be given a piece of paper that confirms that you do know what you’re doing, and to know that next time, I don’t need to google “how to create your own tsunami” the night before!

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