While we will pretty much try any food once, from
a Cheetos-only restaurant to peanut butter and pickles, we also pay attention when someone warns us against foods we should avoid. And, as it turns out, plenty of our favorite eats, like coffee, sushi, and even Bloody Marys have instances where they should be studiously avoided. After all, when Gordon Ramsay tells us not to eat something, we listen — partially just to hear the iconic disgust in his voice. Though, once you've heard them, it's hard to get his soundbites out of your head.
Whether it's food quality, safety, or just an overall ick factor, here are nine foods industry insiders and celeb chefs warn against eating in the wrong place or at the wrong time.
Photographed by Ted Cavanaugh.
At restaurants after the weekend is over
, and even before the memoir that would make him a household name, Anthony Bourdain shared some of his most famous advice in a
1999 article for The New Yorker
: Don't order the fish. Well, unless you're ordering it over the weekend. Most chefs order seafood on Thursday, hoping to sell most of it over the weekend. By Monday, it's been "n kicking around in the kitchen... under God knows what conditions" for up to four days.
Photographed by Eric Helgas.
What: Hollandaise Where: Brunch Another tried-and-true piece of Bourdain wisdom? Stay away from hollandaise. In Kitchen Confidential, he lets diners in on a secret: it's never made to order, and sits around all day. More unsettling, he also writes "Bacteria love hollandaise." Hollandaise's common pairing, Canadian bacon, Bourdain points out is probably only served on the weekends, and paints a vivid portrait of breakfast meats that have been "festering in the walk-in" for days.
Just about anywhere that claims to sell it
Kobe beef is reputed to be the best in the world: true Kobe beef can only come from the Hyogo Prefecture in Japan, and must be certified to meet certain standards like marbling of fat. Comparatively few cows are certified Kobe, and even fewer are exported. To date, only
nine restaurants sell it
in the U.S. That doesn't keep restaurants across the country from banking on the prestige of the Kobe name, however, especially since Kobe is only trademarked in Japan.
Inside Edition expose in 2016
found restaurants selling beef under the Kobe label ranging from steaks that could cost $350 to sliders, burgers, and hot dogs. Best case scenario, you might actually be getting Wagyu beef. Worst case scenario, it's just standard beef marked way up. But even Waygu beef might not be what it appears. The name literally just means "cow from Japan" and is
also unregulated in the U.S
. Beef with a Waygu label might be from Japan, Japanese cattle raised in Australia or the U.S., or the result of cross-breeding Japanese and American cattle.
Photographed by Janelle Jones.
Soup du Jour
Out to eat
The always-opinionated Gordon Ramsay shared a piece of advice with
Town & Country
about one food he always cautions against:
the soup du jour
. As he put it, “It may be the case that it’s the soup du month.” If you really want the soup special, he recommends asking what yesterday's special was — that way, you know you're not just getting food from the day before reheated.
Photo: Getty Images.
Coffee or tea
On a plane
Another food Ramsay studiously avoids is any food, at all, from a plane. As he
told Refinery29 earlier this year
, "I worked for airlines for ten years, so I know where this food’s been and where it goes." Frozen food aside, however, there's
another thing that might be even a bigger risk
: water. If you ask for a cup of water during snack service, its probably coming from a bottle. But tea and coffee is often made from water in tanks on the plane, and just how often and how well those tanks are cleaned isn't regulated.
Photo: Getty Images.
In an essay for GQ, chef and world traveler David Chang revealed
how he does room service
: the simpler bet is normally better. "No matter how nice the hotel, the guy cooking your food is not the best cook in the kitchen," he writes. In fact, he counsels on ordering the chicken fingers off the kid's menu if everything else is "risky." The exceptions, he says, is a few fancy AF spots like The NoMad in NYC and Blackberry Farm in Tennessee, or really busy, large hotels where room service is common, like in casinos.
piece for Spoon University
, a former Trader Joe's employee shared one thing she was told never to eat while working there: the sushi. "It's not made in store and it sits in a box from production to your shopping bag," she writes. A sushi chef who gamely agreed to try various supermarket sushi
sums up the experience
this way: "Wow... I literally can't say anything."
PHOTOGRAPHED BY MOLLY DECOUDREAUX.
If it's not brunch
A beloved brunch cocktail, there's one reason some bartenders might counsel against ordering it any other time of the week. In an article for Mashed,
a former bartender shares why
: "Even a restaurant that makes the best Bloody Marys in town only has the correct mix fresh and ready to go during the brunch and breakfast hours," Kitty Jay writes. Other times of the week, you're probably just paying for a cheap Bloody Mary mix.
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Right before closing
In a list of the drinks baristas typically avoid, one i
ndustry insider explains
the fairly obvious reason why drip coffee late in the afternoon or close to closing is a bad idea. It has nothing to with food safety, just freshness. "The chances of your barista making a new carafe a half hour before the store closes are slim to none," she says. If you want a fresher cup, its a better bet to order a drink that is made-to-order, like pour-over or an espresso drink.