Tagging along with county restaurant health inspectors, KTVK-TV Channel 3's crack news team regularly brings viewers horrifying footage of what's really going on in Valley galleys.
But right under its own nose, the station's kitchen-cam crew has somehow missed what appears to be the most eyebrow-raising pantry probe of the year.
The potential offender? None other than KTVK personality Jan D'Atri, who, for more than a month, has been harboring a goat in the food preparation area of her Scottsdale restaurant.
Only 12 weeks old, D'Atri's pet pygmy is no stranger to publicity. Earlier this month, the animal and its picture were featured in an Arizona Republic item in which D'Atri tells columnist Dolores Tropiano the goat is "the love of my life." Likening herself to "Dr. Dolittle," the goat's surrogate nanny even boasts that she's bottle-feeding the baby beast herself.
But what the star of Channel 3's A Brighter Day (a Saturday morning craft fest) neglects to mention--or Tropiano fails to ask--is where much of this livestock wet-nursing is taking place.
For the answer to that one, look no further than the kitchen of D'Atri's Cinema Paradiso, a small Italian restaurant located at the southeast corner of Scottsdale Road and Shea Boulevard. According to one source close to the situation, the bistro's been doubling as a barnyard since D'Atri got the creature earlier this year.
Last week, New Times spotted the goat in the kitchen through an open kitchen door. On two other occasions, the animal was penned in a portable kennel just outside the door with a litter box nearby. Another tipster claims to have seen the goat tethered to a rope that allowed it to walk in and out the kitchen door.
Reached for comment Friday afternoon, however, D'Atri claims that the goat has only visited the restaurant on one occasion: following a vaccination at a veterinarian's office.
Even in the face of evidence to the contrary (see photo), D'Atri vehemently denies that her restaurant is the goat's home away from home and the place where the animal actually spends much of its time.
"No, I don't keep a goat in the kitchen! God, no--of course not," says D'Atri, who insists that the goat spends its days at a nearby animal clinic--even though a New Times staffer informed her the pet had been photographed out in the alley behind the restaurant that very day.
Sounding increasingly baffled as the conversation wore on ("I don't see what the story is here"), D'Atri did concede--in theory, at least--that it's probably a good idea to keep animals away from areas where food is being prepared for human consumption.
A possible health hazard? "Yeah," answered D'Atri. "Of course."
Assuming the goat hasn't left the building before the health inspectors drop by next time, she'll get no argument from the Maricopa County Environmental Services Department: Unless, like a Seeing Eye dog, they serve some useful purpose, denizens of the animal kingdom are verboten in American food service establishments under federal, state and county laws.
David Ludwig, head of the county's environmental department, claims that to the best of his knowledge, none of his inspectors has ever run across a farmyard critter like the one stashed in D'Atri's eatery.
But asked what would happen in the hypothetical event that he did uncover a goat, Luwig says, "That'd be a problem. We'd want that removed immediately unless the goat [had a purpose under the Americans With Disabilities Act]. If I found [animal urination and defecation] in an open kitchen prep area, I would be very concerned."
Baa, baa . . . baack to you, Patti!
Contact Dewey Webb at his online address: [email protected]