Staph Meal blogger Joshua Albert is capturing the city's attention right now, receiving scrutiny from both those that detest him and those that hold him up as a champion of their cause. Here's more with the once-anonymous writer who's been striking fear in the hearts of abusive industry bosses everywhere.
On exactly where he’s from:
I’m originally from North Carolina. I’ve moved quite a lot. I moved to Philly when I was 19, was here for about six months, then left and came back a few years later after I lived in New York. I lived here for seven months, then moved again. This is the third time I’ve lived here and I’ve been here over a year.
On accusations he’s an attention seeker:
People have said I'm out to get attention. The idea behind building a website is to get attention and to get people to go to it. I never wanted the attention on myself. It’s stressful. I went somewhere yesterday to get a beer and within 20 minutes it was on the internet that I was at Village Whiskey.
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On the worst criticism he’s received:
I took down one comment about how I roofied someone at work. I’m a food runner. I don’t even deal with drinks. Anyone who knows me is bothered by some of the stuff that’s said.
On his convictions for public drunkenness and fraud, addressed in yesterday’s Inquirer article:
I was arrested at Barbuzzo for shooting a cop the bird. I was reading a book and having a martini and bicycle cops were out on sidewalk and I had to move my bag. I’ve seen them ticketing people for riding on the sidewalk and they were doing the same thing. It was a silly case, I fought hell out of it. And the standards for public drunkenness are absurd. If a police
officer goes into the courtroom and says you had slurred speech and
smelled of alcohol, that’s all they need.
I was convicted of a felony when I was 18. 17 years ago, I was an 18-year-old senior living by myself, broke, and found a credit card at YMCA on the locker room floor. I used it to fill up my car with gas and buy groceries. Yes it’s wrong, yes it’s illegal, but how is relevant [to an article about my blog]?
On why restaurant employees are so often mistreated:
If you go to your boss and say, “Hey, I don’t like way you treat me," Pennsylvania being an at-will state, they can fire you right there. People have idea this idea, “Oh, he’s a chef, he’s allowed to be crazy.” Or, “I don’t wanna tell people my boss sexually harassed me because it’s a small community and no one will hire me." I think people in the restaurant industry do build a reputation and it does get around. There are problems in every workforce, but I feel like more stuff in the restaurant industry is tolerated.
On who is Philly’s worst industry offender:
I actually haven’t quite gotten into it yet, but Chris Scarduzio. The company itself is disgusting, out of all the ones I’ve written about. All the sexual harassment allegations, the fact he’s married, the fact he treats people like shit, etcetera. The amount of time these people have been sued and the fact that people are still supporting them are disturbing to me. They’ve been sued so many times for different stuff.
On how the industry in Philly compares to those in other cities:
I think [mistreatment] is a little bit more tolerated here and I think that it’s a very, very small little city. For instance, I was fired from Amis not because of my of job performance at Amis. I was fired, to quote my former boss, for “not representing the company well outside of work.”
On the Georges Perrier / Shola Olunloyo lawsuit:
I don’t think that they will proceed with the lawsuit. I think there’s way too much against Perrier – it wouldn’t be hard to prove what I said was true. I don’t think the lawsuit will happen. Shola doesn’t even have a case, I’m not sure why he jumped on the bandwagon. Maybe he needs a new kitchen toy or something, but give the guy a break – he doesn’t have a restaurant. He’s bored.
On the “low blows” some have accused him of taking:
I think if the low blows are true, then why not take them? These people – Marc Vetri takes low blows publicly on his Twitter account, talking about making his line cooks cry and never want to work in the industry again. If you can take low blows at people, I can take low blows at you. And if you treat your employees crappy, then yeah.
On his future in the restaurant industry:
I’d like to stay working in the restaurant business right now if I could make enough money to survive, but on the flip side, it’s a little bit of a task to get a job right now. I don’t think the industry is too pleased. A bar actually offered me a job. They called and said, “You’re cool as shit. We’ll totally hire you.” Who knows, you never know what can happen. Someone actually even contacted me about doing a modeling gig. Right now, I’m just trying to get through the next couple of days, buy my groceries so I can eat and find a way to make money. I’m going with the flow.
Other places Albert has worked:
I’ve worked at Marathon, Snack Bar, Twenty Manning, R2L, Amis, a.kitchen – some of these places were a couple days. I just went in there and said, “Hell no. Not working here.”
And he doesn’t have something bad to say about all of them:
I got fired yesterday from my job as a runner at Bistrot la Minette. The situation kind of sucked, but I have nothing bad to say about Bistrot la Minette. I understand why I was fired. Other hand it sucked. I went to them four days before I was outed and talked to the chef-owner and manager and said, “I want you all to know I am Staph Meal,” because I figured that was as good as it could possibly could come out. They were like, “We support you, you don’t have to worry about your job. We support what you’re doing." Unfortunately, that turned out not to be the case and I think it was because of some of the nasty things said, mostly on comments on other posts. I understand why I was let go, but it just – that job security was really nice. My boss will say I was a great worker. It was really hard for him to do.