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Bianca Knows Best ... And Stops a Rogue Chef

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Dear Bianca,

Help! My roommate is trying to start a restaurant out of my tiny apartment kitchen!

He was operating a small do-it-yourself food delivery service out of a friend's house, but she kicked him out when he refused to clean up his dirty dishes. I figured he'd quit, but I came home from work one night to find a 50-pound bag of potatoes and an equally massive bag of onions on the living room floor. He said he needed the food to create the meals he'd be serving out of our kitchen.

I told him no way and he grudgingly agreed. But two days later, he was in the kitchen cooking a dish to deliver to a regular customer. What can I do to convince him that I'm serious?

— Not-So-Hungry Roommate

Dear Not-So-Hungry,

For starters, you should tell your roommate that what he's doing is probably illegal. Most health departments require inspections for small businesses using home kitchens, and he may even need a license to operate.

In some places, health departments require home kitchen cooks who sell their food to use a separate kitchen with a certain number of sinks and easily-cleaned walls and counter surfaces. Pets aren't allowed in the cooking area (and in some cases, even the same house). Those folks are pretty picky.

If one of your roommate's customers finds a hair or some other nasty thing in his food, he might decide to report the business to the Tennessee Department of Health. And then you and your roommate would be in big trouble.

Not only would they shut his business down (which would be fine with you, I'm sure), but you could possibly be evicted from your apartment if the landlords are assholes.

Your roommate may not even know that what he's doing is against the law, so try talking logically to him about it. If he still refuses to close up shop, I think you have a pretty good reason to kick him out.

Oh, and when he's gone, donate any food he leaves behind to a local feed-the-homeless operation like Food Not Bombs.

Got a problem? Bianca can solve it. Send your problems to bphillips@memphisflyer.com.

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