While he's proud of the recipes that produce his tasty ribs, chicken and baked beans, Kefalidis, who hails from London, Ont., said proper food storage and handling are at the top of his priority list.
The issue of food safety made headlines last month when 200 people got sick after eating cronut burgers, or hamburgers sandwiched on a donut-croissant hybrid, at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto.
It turned out there was staphylococcus aureus in the maple bacon jam adorning the cronut burgers.
Kefalidis, who spoke to Northern Life last weekend during Downtown Sudbury Ribfest, said he's put measures in place to ensure nothing like the cronut incident ever occurs at his stall.
Beyond ensuring his staff is trained on food handling, he said the proper equipment is key to providing customers with a safe product.
He said the trailer he uses is worth more than $100,000, and has a built-in refrigeration unit, back-up power source, and hot water and grey water tanks.
The five other ribbers at Sudbury's Ribfest all had pretty much the same setup, he said. “Everybody's professional here,” Kefalidis said. “Nobody doing any homemade job. Everything is to the code.”
Wherever Crabby's BBQ Shack goes, Kefalidis said he faces inspection from the local health unit. “I had an inspection yesterday,” he said. “The health inspector is very happy.”
Melissa Antaya, who works at Texas Rangers, another one of the rib stands set up at Downtown Sudbury Ribfest, also said she thinks food safety is key. She and all the other workers at the stand have their food handling certificates.
“It keeps people on the right path, just so we're all aware of what is proper protocol,” she said.
Downtown Sudbury executive director Maureen Luoma, who organized Ribfest, said she's not really concerned that a “cronut” situation could happen at the yearly festival.
Not only are the stands inspected by the health unit, but the ribbers are pros who wouldn't let food safety up to chance, she said.
“The festival food and the ribbers, this is their livelihood,” Luoma said. “This is what they do. They make sure everything is in order, and they're required to for every community they go to.”
Cindy Rocca, manager of food safety at the Sudbury and District Health Unit, said when a food vendor wants to set up at a festival, they have to apply in advance for a special occasion food service permit.
Then a health inspector will phone them up to discuss “food safety matters like the transportation and the handling and the food,” she said.
During the event, the health unit will inspect food service stalls. Rocca said the vendors at Ribfest were inspected each day of the festival, and as far as she knows, there were no issues.
While talking to vendors in advance and inspecting their stalls on festival weekend is time-consuming, “it's worth every minute that the inspectors put in,” she said.
As a food safety manager, Rocca said the cronut burger story definitely grabbed her attention.
People in her position are supposed to ensure nothing like that ever happens, but if it does, they have to make sure that the source of infection is tracked down so it doesn't continue to affect people.
“I thought 'Oh no,'” she said. “You kind of start to wonder why it happened, and what could have prevented it from happening.”