Monday, December 19, 2011

The Korean Street Truck Adventures: Chapter 3: Sanitation

The Korean Street Truck Adventures


TCS, SOP, HACCP,MSDS, FAT TOM...


If I hear another acronym this week I’m going to scream.


TCS, SOP, HACCP,MSDS, FAT TOM, and the list goes on and on. I’ve been swimming in a veritable alphabet soup this week all because of one issue that no foodservice operation can ignore. Sanitation.


Why the alphabet soup and concern with sanitation this week? ServSafe. ServSafe is a program from the National Restaurant Association that certifies a person in sanitation and safety issues and is nationally recognized. While ServSafe isn’t required for mobile operations by my local health department I decided to renew (you have to re-up every five years) my certification.


The material is pretty extensive, not just your garden variety “wash your hands and watch out for salmonella”. It has not been fun to study, for example, look up Anisakis or any other seafood toxin and you will understand why I’ve gone almost borderline vegan this week.

Ick .


Turn back the clock 5 years ago and ask someone what they think of eating food from a truck and usually the response was “a roach coach? No way! They don’t regulate those things like restaurants so you get sick if you eat the food.” The perception of food trucks has changed over the last 5 years, thankfully, and the laws are quickly catching up. Granted, there are some limitations since you can’t put an entire kitchen on wheels but that doesn’t mean today’s crop of food truck operators can’t serve food at almost the exact same standards that your local restaurant does.


So the last week has been filled with reading and re-reading about bacteria, cleaning, and proper temperatures for everything under the sun. As a mobile operator I’m faced with the challenge of how to manage all these things in a very non-conventional setting. For instance, unless you have someplace you can hook up a hose to, most trucks have to have a certain amount of storage for water for cooking and cleaning. This is in addition to the water heater required since your hand and dish washing water must clear 100F.


Then there is the little issue of the differences when it comes to how we handle food in the U.S. and how it gets handled in Korea. Things like kimbap and tteok, you would normally never put in the fridge or keep piping hot but according to my local food code I can’t just let it be at room temp. Now I need to figure out how I’m going to still be in compliance with the code AND maintain the integrity of certain dishes.


The good news is the class is done so I’m going to relax until then and make some hotteok this weekend. Bad news is all look like a walk in the park compared to my appointment next week with my lawyer to discuss legal issues.

The Korean Street Truck Adventures are the real adventures of a female chef that is starting her own Korean street truck business in middle-America. This is her true story. Names and locations have been omitted. You can leave Ms. L a message in the comment section of this post. 


Here are the other chapters in this series:

The Korean Street Truck Adventures: Chapter 2: Sexism in the Kitchen





Come take a cooking class or take a Culinary Tour in Seoul! http://www.ongofood.com
Join the Seoul Eats Facebook Group Page to keep to date with the latest events.