This is the story of the head cook in the kitchen at the Bamba on Alexander Street, an upscale Bistro. For the sake of this story we will call this man “Chuck”.
The Bamba Bistro:www.bambabistro.com
Chuck runs the kitchen at Bamba, is in charge of the kitchen staff, designs the menu and cooks much of the food being served there, but Chuck is not a clean man. Below you will find photos of an apartment inhabited until recently by Chuck, I should know because I own the building. Chuck was a tenant of our company for about 20 years and in that time has never been a particularly clean person but we never really knew he had gotten this bad until about a month ago. The building he has long lived in for the past year has been due for a city inspection and based on past experience we knew Chuck was going to have to clean up his apartment a bit if his unit was going to pass. Some years ago we encountered a similar situation with him at a previous city inspection, but the problem was small at the time, mostly stacked 12 pack boxes ceiling high and some grime. During that incident he asked for our help to clean up, and we gave it to him without hesitation, you see Chuck is a charismatic guy, a real character. We looked out for him, worked with him through hard times he had financially, extended him every kindness possible over the years, but as it turned out this meant very little to him in the end.
We informed Chuck of this impending inspection and that he would have to clean up to standard for it, not really knowing what kind of landfill like mess he was secretly hiding in his apartment. He assured us he just need some time to get it together, repeatedly. We further and further delayed the inspection, but to no avail. He simply refused to do the work. When it did come time that an inspection date was set, he assured us again he would be ready for it, although there were no outward signs of this. Inspection day came, and mysteriously the inspector did not show up at the agreed upon time. We called to investigate and were told that “someone” had called in and said that “the landlord was sick” so the inspection had been canceled. Confused we informed them that we made no such call, were NOT sick, and were waiting at the property ready to go, but it was too late. The inspection was rescheduled for the following week. We confronted Chuck about this “landlord is sick” call and he admitted to calling it in, saying he had to “protect himself”. We of course told him that all it did was delay the inspection, and he countered with the statement that he had “moved out”. Sure enough the keys to the unit were at door when we went to see if this was true. Chuck was gone, his horrific mess remained and on top of that he owes us some back rent.
Upon closer inspection, as you can see from the photos, his self imposed living conditions were truly shocking. How could anyone live like this? Why would they do this to themselves? There is garbage, rotten food and beer cans piled 3 to 5 food high. All of the plumbing was clogged or buried under trash. There were many jugs of urine and the bathtub was filled with human feces. The smell was a mix of rotten flesh, stale cigarettes and piss. How could he let his living space get this bad?? I understand that he was embarrassed and didn’t want anyone to know about this, but I also know that if it had not been for this inspection disturbing his lifestyle, he would still currently be living in this mess. It’s easy to say that there is some undiagnosed or untreated mental illness at play here, and that may very well be true, but the general consensus among those who know the man is that he is 100% capable of cleaning up after himself but that he is simply a lazy, dirty man who just does not care. Does not care about his living space, does not care about us having to now deal with the mess he has made and does not care about the people he is serving food to on a daily basis. Which brings me to the point of all this; the people he is serving food to on a daily basis.
A week before writing this, I wrote a letter of concern and emailed it to the management of the Bamba, including photos. I briefly outlined the situation and my deep belief that as Chucks employers they needed to be aware of this man’s lifestyle, after all he is the one cooking and serving their food to their customers. My letter got absolutely no response from management.
I did however get a message from one of the subordinate cooks at Bamba who is a friend of my brother. He asked me for a copy of my letter and the photos and was going to put it in with his notice as part of the reason he was dissatisfied working there, hoping they would listen to him because they were clearly not listening to me.
Who knows what will come of all this with the management of Bamba, what decision, if any, they will make on the subject of Chuck being in their kitchen, but I still really believe that this information needed to get out. People should know who is cooking their food and if the management knows and does not react or respond, well then it’s on them as well. The truth will out.
written by Juda Nevadomski