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In a kosher restaurant today, must the mashgiach (kosher inspector) spend 100% of his time watching everything, or can he do some other work in the restaurant? How much work? I know this may vary from kosher agency to kosher agency, so multiple answers ("I've seen this policy in my town") are fine.

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5 Answers 5

I used to work for a few months as a mashgiach for a restaurant. The main issues I had to worry about were lighting the stove, putting eggs that needed to be boiled in the pot, and checking the vegetables (especially leafy vegetables and bunches of herbs). The cooking itself was done primarily by the owner of the restaurant and a couple of non-Jewish women he hired, so once that stuff was done, there wasn't much for me to do (technically, I could have just stayed in the kitchen to be sure noone was slipping some milk or bacon onto the grill, but I don't think any rabbi would expect that of a mashgiach unless there was genuine cause for concern).

Once I was done with my responsibilities in the kitchen, I usually helped set the tables, and when things got busy I would help clean off the tables as well (I guess they were worried about me dropping some plate that they never asked me to help SERVE the food).

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+1, nice personal anecdote. Question, why did you (and not someone else) put eggs in the pot? (If it was because of bishul akum concerns, then was lighting the stove insufficient?) –  msh210 Nov 29 '11 at 15:49
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@msh210, maybe it was a sepharadi hechsher. I'm pretty sure they do not consider lighting the stove to be sufficient for that purpose. –  Isaac Moses Nov 29 '11 at 16:40
    
That was indeed the reason; in Amsterdam, they have both an Ashkenazic and Sephardic hechsher. –  Barry Hammer Nov 30 '11 at 10:16

I've seen in my town (Jerusalem) that many times mashgiach is making thing that are related to kosherness of the food. Like checking lettuce and rise for insects and so on. I'm talking about restaurants with that are supervised by BADAT"Z kosher agency.

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In my experience, most agencies in america are strict in only allowing the Mashgiach to watch, or to do things that are related to his job, like washing lettuce, etc. Every kosher agency I have come in contact with requires a certified, trained Mashgiach to wash Lettuce, because, truthfully, it's not just washing the lettuce, it's also looking for bugs, and these bugs are VERY difficult to spot. Now, the reason why the bigger agencies in America only allow a watching Mashgiach is because, speaking from personal experience, it is exceedingly difficult to both work, and properly watch the kashrus of a place. (That being said it is also difficult to just stand around and not work, only watching the kashrus of a place.) These agencies do not want a conflict with which boss you should listen to. The best way, in my experience is to let the Mashgiach do his work, and any other work that keeps him from getting to bored, so he can pay attention better. Never overload the Mashgiach with work, and let him do things at a slow casual pace, so he can watch the kashrus, and at the same time get things done.

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Benjamin Kopelman, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks very much for sharing your experience! Please consider registering your account, which will give you access to more of the site's features. –  Isaac Moses Jun 5 '12 at 16:59
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I'll second Isaac Moses's welcome. You refer to your experience in this answer. Editing it to indicate what that experience is (for example, have you worked in the administrative office of a kashruth agency? have you been a mashgiach? etc.) would allow people a better understanding of the source of this answer. –  msh210 Jun 5 '12 at 17:11
    
I'm the mashgi'ach tamidi in a family-run restaurant, store, and caterer. I appreciate what Benjamin K. says about being over-loaded and having two bosses. On the other hand, being involved in the details of the kitchen gives me an enhanced perspective of what's going on. I catch things a mere observer would not be able to see. But, this is a small operation, not a big company. Still, for a small business, I think the mashgi'ach should be in there washing dishes, etc, since this lets him see important details. I often catch misplaced keilim before anything treif can happen to them or the food. –  Shemmy Jun 6 '12 at 11:39

I have seen Mashgichim taking care of the register.

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This has the benefit of ensuring that the money is as as kosher as the food. –  Ze'ev Felsen Jan 12 '12 at 7:44

It is very common for the mashgiach to be put to work doing things not related to kosher food preparation, including many tasks - register, cleaning, serving, etc.

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Hello Daniel, welcome to Judaism.SE, and thank you for your informative answer! Please consider registering your account, which will give you access to more of the site's features. I hope to see you around the site! –  HodofHod Apr 9 '12 at 7:34
    
I'm currently working as a mashgi'ach, and I never leave the kitchen. I wash pots and pans and hang around the chef doing things like helping him peel boiled eggs, etc, which is not directly necessary for kashrut reasons. The thing is, it's amazing how often I catch things going on while I'm busy with these supposedly unrelated tasks (such as nicked fingers bleeding onto the cutting board, or pareve pans that have wandered into the fleishig side of the kitchen, etc). –  Shemmy Apr 10 '12 at 1:16

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