CHICAGO (WGN) — Online food deliveries have exploded during the pandemic. But when you place your order, do you really know who is cooking your dishes?
In one case, a Chicago delivery driver said he retrieved prepared meals from the kitchen of a suburban apartment. He asked to be identified only by his first name, Kurt.
“I thought it couldn’t be legal,” he said. “I was afraid that someone would get sick from the food.”
Kurt notified his customers and the Cook County Public Health Department. The kitchen has been ordered to close.
City and county officials said they haven’t been inundated with complaints about unlicensed meal prep sites or illegal so-called “ghost kitchens,” but the law is clear. The preparation of food for sale is not permitted in a private residence.
In Kurt’s case, he had meals at an apartment complex in unincorporated Cook County near Des Plaines. The seller was called “Blackbird” online, although it is not affiliated with the Michelin-starred restaurant of the same name, run by chef Paul Kahan. (This restaurant is now closed.)
A Cook County spokesperson declined to comment.
The meal preparation site near Des Plaines is not believed to be still in operation.
The owner told County in an email, obtained by WGN, that he would stop selling food and remove his menu from Uber Eats.
In an email, a spokesperson for Uber Eats said the company requires all restaurants — even ghost kitchens — to comply with local health, safety and licensing guidelines.