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Phantom Gourmet comes to Upper Crust's defense: Tells state to keep its hands off illegals

Basic argument: How can you have any meat if you don't hire your illegals? Scroll down a bit on that page for the Phantom's rationale.

Patrick Maguire has more.

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Comments

The whole rationale is fail.

Maybe it is finally time to raise the MA minimum wage for servers to that of other employees? Might make the work more attractive to people who are documented and not unpaid family members.

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Are the undocumented workers really doing the server work? I would assume most of the illegal workers are untipped workers in the back.

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The Mass. "minimum" wage is $8.00 per hour; the other Mass minimum wage, the one for tipped employees, is $2.63.

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Phantom Gourmet: I'm sorry to tell everyone, but without illegal aliens, there is no restaurant business. Hurting this company, or any company, is not really what our state needs right now.

Wow, so breaking the law(s) and treating your employees like numbers is tantamount for a successful business. Yeah, that makes sense.

Whats next, don't expect dry-cleaning unless we let illegally make 8 year olds operate the washing machines?

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Sounds like Phantom Gourmet is going to need a little perception management in the near future if this gets out...

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So I guess it's fine to underpay your employees and violate all sorts of labor and immigration laws as long as you are a higher class restaurant. Somehow I don't think the same food snobs would be rushing to the defense of you local Quiznos or Sub franchise if those businesses were doing the same thing.

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The problem isn't who Upper Crust hired, but rather how they treated their employees. Unfair labor practices are wrong whether the employees are citizens or not.

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No illegal aliens, not mistreatment of illegal aliens. Deportation - it's a win-win.

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No reality, no real life problems. Idealism or Drug Abuse - its a win win.

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If they were paying the state mandated wage, then why the need for illegals in the first place?

The answer to the immigration problem is enforcing workers rights and wage laws in this country. Make it impossible for douchbag CEO's to hire cheap, undocumented labor, and everybody wins. Demand drys up, and companies will get more skilled workers.

It'll work better and is much cheaper to implement then 7,000 miles of fence and border patrol.

Because that would fix the issue, the GOP will refuse to do it. They'd rather harness the bigotry and racism of "illegals took our jerbs" to rally their xenophobic base.

Also, I'm pretty sure Upper Crust is using H-1B Visa's, which technically makes them foreign workers, not illegal immigrants. Either way they're scumbags (Upper Crust), and will never see a dime from me again.

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A family friend owns a dunkin donuts. 10 years ago, he employeed and paid illegal aliens at the minumum wage. He hired illegals because they worked harder than your American worker that would work that same minimum wage job. I believe the same rational applies to many of those in the restuarant who hire illegal workers. They are paid the minumum wage, but are not always paid over time.

I also believe these foreign workers at restuarants are illegal, and do not have Alien work cards and are not permenant Aliens.

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Fine by me. That's saying a lot if businesses want to hire foreign workers because they do a better job and work harder then the local work pool.

I still think that immigration officials need to go after businesses that are doing so, because they're ultimately the problem. They're creating the huge demand for foreign workers. It's going to be filled no matter what anyone else does. We simply will never be spending the 10-20 trillion dollars needed to effectively close and patrol the thousands of miles of coast and land border.

Hell, we can't even find the time and money to inspect more then 5% of the cargo containers coming into our ports.

Anyways, if CEO's they want laws relaxed, they need to work towards immigration reform that allows a greater number of foreign workers. Get behind a path to citizenship, and way to make workers legal, and push it hard. Economics isn't a zero sum game, and pitting workers against each other ultimately hurts everyone.

As for Joe American, if you're being outworked at the same price, you need to do some soul searching rather then complain about the darkies taking yer jerb.

My family stepped of a boat in Boston, migrated to Leominster at the turn of the 20th century, and worked hard to make a life in America. All they had to do was sign their name in a book, and pass a physical exam.

It's time this country get back to it's roots. We're all fraking immigrants.

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...complaining about the 'darkies'? Buddy, it's 2010 and we're not in the deep South.

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Facebook friends with the Phantom?

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Which you would know if you: a) read the kind of comments I post on the Phantom's Facebook page, which remind the Phantom's followers that there's a world out there beyond the lowbrow crap the Andlemans so profitably hype, and like my comment quoted here below regarding the Upper Crust issue; b) read Phantom hagiographies of mine this one: http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/2009/04/chowhound-ver... and c) read the awards I've given the Andelmans in my blog's annual Devil's Dining Awards, like this recent one:

The Horror Behind the Mask Award: to the Brothers Andelman of The Phantom Gourmet, a local restaurant-review TV show. No, it’s not for polishing the knobs of their advertisers: even their dimmest viewers recognize that the Andelmans are shameless whores. Rather, it’s the phony gusto with which the boys smack their lips on-camera over the fatty/starchy fare in which the program wallows: cupcakes, ribs, chicken parm, anything deep-fried and drenched with syrup, gravy or melted cheese. The truth is that Dave is a fitness fanatic, Mike a vegetarian, and Dan (judging from the places I routinely ran into him when he lived in town) more fond of tony fine-dining establishments than dripping steak bombs and glazed donuts. It’s like discovering the Red Sox color guy is secretly a Yankees fan: *the Phantom loves arugula!*

Of course I follow them on Facebook!

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It's all about the Upper Crust! Commercials and appearances on the show showing off their horrible pizzas. The Andelmans are nothing but shills for the people who advertise on their show. Ever eaten at Emma's or the Halfway Cafe? Yuck!! F the Upper Crust, I can't wait until Regina's or Papa Gino's buys them out.

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Two faceless, bland chains that haven't seen a frozen ingredient they didn't like buying out a chain known for fresh ingredients and creative pies. Outstanding. I'm not a fan of UC's exploitation of labor and haven't eaten there since Ms. Abelson wrote her piece, but Papa Geno's and Regina's are the definition of assembly line, cut rate, bad pizza enjoyed by suburbs with little Italian lineage or city dwellers who haven't finished their undergraduate studies and are too stoned to know the difference. My hope is that they're sold one by one using the W. Rox model -- keeping the recipes and room to experiment and losing the shady labor practices.

P.S. DVDOFF, there's an Elio's cooling in the toaster oven for you.

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umm..there we go. Excuse me, were you trying to characterize me as someone who doesn't know good pizza? I stand on both my Italian heritage and my dining experiences at Circle Pizza, Galleria Umberto, Santarpio's, Brown Jug, and dozens of small, family owned pizzerias in and around New England and beyond.

Papa Gino's and Regina's, like the UC, are both locally owned. The difference between them is that Papa's and Regina are not under investigation by the State labor board and to my knowledge, ever have been. Both Papa Gino's and Regina have longstanding ties to the community and have been enjoyed by me and my family since I was a kid. The UC only seems to have ties to one man,Jordan Tobins, a weaselly little creep who stole the recipes of others to make his fortune and when the money started to come in, that's when his morals flew out the door. I've tried their pizza once while waiting for a movie at the Coolidge, and I do prefer Elios' to it. If that's your idea of good pizza, then you show yourself to be that which you described in your little diatribe as "too stoned to know the difference". Take it from someone who just finished a great pie and is stoned and does know the difference.

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we could go at this all day. My family is from Newark's "down neck" Ironbound neighborhood and from North Newark's Broad Street, the latter of which shut down one of the city's biggest traffic arteries to celebrate Italy's World Cup win four years ago. We both have Italian heritage, so what does that tell us about our pizza knowledge? Not a damned thing.

There are gentlemen from Naples running pizza shops in NYC right now that would laugh at what we call pizza. Keste, Frannie's, Motorino... they're all updating the old pizza formula and changing the game from the oven up. Santarpio's, Umberto, Ernesto's: They're all fine places and Ernesto's is a personal favorite, but they're not bringing anything new or even exceptional to the equations. They're just good pizza places in a bad pizza town.

Upper Crust may not be to your liking, but it's the only chain that even tried to tweak the standard formula. Oddly, their namesake crust was usually the worst part of the pizza -- a hacky stand-in for genuine wood-oven or coal-oven crusts. Their ingredients, however, were a cut above and something that couldn't be found on pies anywhere in this town. MC Slim JB made this point about poutine months ago, and it holds true for pizza as well: Just because it's not made the way you've "always had it" or in a way that varies from convention doesn't mean it should be denied a place at the table.

That said, Regina and Gino's -- while local -- are average at best. Sometimes average is just fine: I enjoy the average pies from many of my neighborhood's pizzerias on a regular basis. However, an above-average offering from Same Old Place or Primo Brothers is always preferable. I won't go to Upper Crust because of Mr. Tobin's misdeeds, but that doesn't make other, lesser chains more appealing. If anything, it only makes me more attached to the small, one-shop locals and their superior product.

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Import people from the third world for service jobs.
Export jobs to the third world for manufacturing.
How's that global economy thing working out for you?

Tea Party dingbats cry for fiscal responsibility while giving the wealthiest a pass on their income. Heil Bush.
Left wing loonies encourage open borders, increasing the labor pool as the domestic job pool continues to shrink. Obama Akbar.

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Seriously how do you follow this guy?

He compares Bush to Hitler and then Obama to Osama (or Admiral Ackbar).

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La Rouche,

You never follow them. You just point and laugh.

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of that magnitude!!

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No idea if the poster is a LaRouchie but outside of the hyperbole, he's not too far off-base. Even immigrant supporters can admit that having the presence of 11 or so million people who are too afraid to fight against labor abuse (because they have been converted into something less than human -- "the illegals" like India's "untouchables" or Broadway's "Fantastick's") has a depressing effect on the wages of unskilled positions.

It could be that if we were to really face the causes of our problems and not just the symptoms we might be noticing that alot of our problems really started kicking in we found ourselves buying crap at Walmart for a fraction of what we've ever paid for it in the past. "Vertical integration" can result in cost savings, but not as much as straight-up unsustainable, immoral exploitation of human and natural resources in producer countries (the US produces precious little these days, realistically speaking).

You want to address immigration issues pay attention to the reasons why people are leaving their countries for here. And before you believe the reasons that Faux News gives you (this country is obviously Nirvana because we've worked hard for ALL we have, and their countries are obviously shitholes, because they're incompetent and lazy), ask yourself why many Brazilians are heading back.

Discussing immigration is difficult because you can't do it without talking globalized economy and the unsustainability of the US (perceived/aspired) standard of living. It's like talking about European immigration in the 19th century and not talking about famine or war.

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I agree with your thinking on this.

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Why they come here (and head back) is actually pretty simple: economics and dignity.

When I was doing kitchen temp staffing work, I saw firsthand just what a load of shit the whole "job-stealing immigrant" thing actually was.

First, let's just set aside the code here: when Fox News says "American citizens", they mean "white people". The same white people who, when told being a high school dropout with no ServSafe or other certification meant they weren't qualified to do anything other than bus tables or wash dishes, often used charming phrases like "n***** work" or tried to act like we were both in the White People's Club and surely I could pay them twice what the black guys and the Mexicans were making because they earned it.

Secondly, I dealt with a lot of people shocked that they'd gotten through a work-day with a full paycheck at the wages they were promised without being assaulted or sexually propositioned.

I don't think my time at that job represents the full immigrant experience by a long shot, but it was rather enlightening.

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If these employees are so essential to how business is run, then you'd think business would be for changes to immigration laws so they could hire them legally.

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Some are, some aren't. It depends on the business and whether or not the owner is hiring illegals because he can't find anybody else or hiring illegals because he can pay them a dollar an hour and they won't complain.

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The Andelman's will whore themselves out to just about anyone who has a couple of bucks to advertise on their show. The fact that a neo-con wannabe like Dave Andelman is going to bat for the Upper Crust shouldn't really come as a surprise, nor should the fact that they use illegal labor come as an earth shattering shock. If anyone on this board honestly believes that there is a single restaurant in greater Boston that doesn't have an illegal Brazilian/Colombian/Irish in the back then I have some beautiful ocean front property in Worcester I'd love to sell you......

The real crime here is that the Globe turned this tale of "human exploit" into a liberal sob story. Identity fraud, tax evasion, improper documentation, and illegal labor practices are criminal offenses. Start arresting restaurant owners and deporting illegal immigrants and you'll stop this behavior once and for all. Perhaps once everyone is playing on a level playing field these pizza parlors can justify charging $20+ for a pie.

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Again, the cheapest way to deal with the problem is to make force businesses to comply with the law, with heavy fines and jail time for their CEO's and enforce that.

If there's no demand, there's no jobs, and there's no reason to move. Ultimately, it's all about jobs, it always is.

Again, unfortunately for Republicans, forcing business to operate legally under any rule of law is Socialism. So you can kind of see the impasse here.

Deportation isn't the issue because they'll just come back, they already will, just talk to a Border agent / ICE agent and they'll the'll you the same. Jail isn't the issue because the taxpayer will pay 5X the cost to prosecute, throw him in jail, where they'll learn there's much more lucrative black market businesses. Trying to patrol and block the border is financially impossible.

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If you read 'Kitchen Confidential', you learn that the kitchen side of many (if not most) restaurants features a large number immigrants both legal and illegal. It's a fact of life.

As far as UC is concerned, their moral transgression was violating the State's laws on compensation and work hours. Seems this is legitimate gripe to me. They can't necessary track down the background of every dishwasher they hired, but they need to treat them as equals at the very least.

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This comment in the FB thread, by someone named Mc Slim JB, nails it: "It is true that many restaurant[s] hire undocumented workers. The issue with The Upper Crust is not in hiring them, but exploiting them. Caught doing it once, and now accused of continuing that pattern. We know they're your sponsors, Phantom, but let's not pretend folks don't know that story here."

I think the Phantom Gourmet has exposed himself. He's never been a "food critic." He's a hired gun.

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