The executive chef at celebrity restaurateur Daniel Boulud’s eatery db Bistro Moderne testified in Manhattan federal court Monday that he had no idea how a surprise ingredient landed in an unfortunate diner’s $32 plate of coq au vin.
“You can’t always see objects in the food," chef Kendall Linhart said on the witness stand, explaining that he likely served 300 meals on the night in question last year.
Retired lawyer Barry Brett is suing the midtown restaurant saying he swallowed a metal wire from a grill brush that was hidden in his chicken entree.
Plaintiff’s exhibit No. 1 is a Chinese-made wood block wire brush that Brett’s attorney, Elizabeth Eilender, says was purchased on the cheap from a local hardware store, instead of a specialty restaurant supplier.
Brett nearly died from the resulting infection, his lawyer Eilender said in opening statements.
Linhart claimed under cross examination from his attorney that it’s a complete mystery how the wire ended up in Brett’s dish.
Linhart said the coq au vin is cooked in a heavy pan called a rondeau, and not on the cast-iron grill that’s cleaned with the offending wire brush.
“The chicken is not prepared on the cast iron grill?" the restaurant’s lawyer, Paul Bottarri asked.
“That’s correct," Linhart replied.
Brett’s lawyer suspects the bristle fell into the chicken pan, which was stored near the dish pit area where the cast iron grilled was scrubbed with the faulty wire brush.
Chef Linhart admitted that he “‘never specifically inspected" the brush his staff had picked up at a local hardware store for the requisite National Sanitation Foundation seal.
He also said he didnt know that the federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning in 2012 about using wire brushes in food preparation.
The restaurant’s attorney is banking on a technicality to defend the case.
“There are no regulations about using a brush on a grill where chicken isn’t even prepared," lawyer Paul Bottarri said in his opening remarks. He added that Brett is to blame for the infection because he waited four days to go to the hospital for emergency surgery.
“Common sense would tell you that if he had gone to the hospital on Saturday or Sunday night he would not have had a life threatening infection," Bottarri argued.