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Toronto Chinese restaurant employee explains viral video of him scooping sauce from the ground

Click to play video: 'Toronto restaurant employee explains viral video of him scooping sauce from the ground'
Toronto restaurant employee explains viral video of him scooping sauce from the ground
WATCH: A Toronto Chinese restaurant employee is speaking out after video circulated on social media showing him scooping spilled sauce from the ground into a bucket, and then bringing it into the restaurant. He says the video does not tell the whole story and the sauce was thrown out. Tracy Tong reports – Dec 31, 2021

A Chinese restaurant employee is speaking out exclusively to Global News after a video circulated on social media showing him scooping spilled sauce from the ground into a bucket, and then bringing it into the restaurant.

The incident happened on Tuesday night outside Hong Shing Chinese Restaurant, near Dundas Street West and University Avenue in downtown Toronto.

Speaking in Cantonese, in an exclusive interview with Global News the employee in question, Zebin Lin, said “in my heart, I felt like crying,” after he found out the videos of him had been unknowingly recorded and widely shared.

He says the videos don’t tell the whole story. He had just picked up six buckets of sauce from the supply truck when he slipped. One bucket fell and spilled.

Speaking in Cantonese, Lin said there was oncoming traffic was approaching, so he tried to clean up the area as quickly as he could. He then left one empty bucket outside, but brought the rest of them into the restaurant, where he was told he would have to dispose of all the product.

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“When he came in, I said don’t worry about it, all these buckets have to go,” said Hong Shing’s owner, Colin Li, adding that quality control is of utmost priority for the restaurant.

Elisha Pommainville, who was in her vehicle nearby, says she started recording on her phone when she saw an employee scooping up the sauce from the ground with his hands.

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Most searched terms on Google in 2021

“He went to the back to grab the cart with the sauce, and he was walking and it fell,” Pommainville told Global News. “At first I was just like, that sucks. But then when I saw him start scooping it up. I was like, he’s not really doing what I think he’s doing.”

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The series of videos were first shared on Pommainville’s Snapchat account, and then on Instagram.

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They show an employee with several buckets on a cart, cleaning up sauce and putting it into buckets, and then carting the buckets into the restaurant through a back door.

The videos went viral after it was shared on an Instagram account with about two million followers.

“I’ve eaten there. My children have eaten there. A lot of my friends eat there. So, it was more so just to let people know like, this is what I seen. This is what happened. It’s awareness. It wasn’t for clout. It wasn’t to destroy a restaurant,” Pommainville said.

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Li says since the videos were circulated the restaurant has received community support, but also has received a lot of hate calls and online harassment.

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“A lot of hate calls coming to the restaurant saying about how unsanitary we are, plus a lot of racist comments leading up to that,” said Li.

“I have to keep fighting this narrative for over two decades now, saying how Chinese restaurants are unsanitary and dirty.

“We work really hard to make sure that no one really feels like that, from me building my social media to show people I’m very transparent in my kitchen. I show on social media literally every angle of my kitchen, so people can see what’s coming out and what’s coming into the restaurant. So that’s why this incident is really hurtful.”

Li says neither Pommainville nor the owner of the Instagram account reached out to the restaurant for context before posting the videos. The Instagram account owner declined to comment.

Pommainville says she did not feel it was her place to approach the restaurant that night, and that she did not anticipate the hateful commentary that resulted from the videos.

But she does not regret posting the videos.

“I encourage those who still want to … to definitely support the business because the goal of the post was not to have people boycott it, it was just to let people know that this is what I encountered that day. This is what I’ve seen. They can make their own choice.”

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