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What was the dirtiest kitchen you have ever worked in??

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

For you Chefs and Cooks out there please tell us the very worst,dirtiest, and broken down old kitchen you have ever worked in?? There has to be a few of you out there that have had very poor work conditions...
post #2 of 17
I can't say I've ever worked in 'dirty' kitchens (one was pretty bad when I started, but got cleaned up nice). I have however worked in some kitchens with old, broken down equipment. Ovens that don't close (and are off by 50-100 degrees), a grill with a hole in it, Pepsi fridges as line coolers, broken appliances, broken drawers on under-counter coolers, etc... A kitchen is only dirty if the rest of the cooks are dirty, and I won't work at those places.
post #3 of 17
I never worked in one. After the interview I'd ask to take a peek at the kitchen, if it was a nightmare, I'd decline. If I was hired for a management postion, I'd re-negotiate the salary, and get it cleaned up in a hurry...
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #4 of 17
what is dirty. i smelled bad yeah , pits. so what is dirty? my kitchen stinks, and lets not forget the black spots on the floor. the kitchen help (thank god,they know what a shower is) they live on mommies dime.

atleast they are learning about the customers:bounce:
post #5 of 17
the worst was one of the first jobs i had right out of J&W - they only cleaned the meat saw when the maggots started crawling out of it. yes, that was quite a few years ago, and the place is no longer in existance. or the place were the owner was so cheap he tried to sell the fish as fresh after 7 days ( i carried it out in front of his friend, the fish guy and he recieved a great lecture) or the place where the drip pit under the salamander caught fire on a regular basis....
post #6 of 17
I'd agree with food pump. Before interviewing I always ask to see the kitchen. If its dirty or I can see the crew isn't doing right I pass. I have worked in my share of kitchens with old quirky equipment. I have in my earlier days worked in a couple of kitchens that weren't spotless, but cleaned up well after spending a couple nights cleaning after everyone else went home. The dirtiest kitchen I've ever worked in was probably about 12 years ago. I moved to a new area- it was a really small town and nobody was hiring. After looking for a few days I finally got a foot in the door as a dishwasher. The people that owned the place were running the place into the ground and were slobs. Luckily, about two weeks later a couple of cooks I had met turned me onto a job at a nearby resort. Two years later, some friends of mine bought the place and hired me to cook for them. It took 6 or 7 of us about 5 months of long days before opening the place for business to get it acceptable.
post #7 of 17
I hate to admit that this is even in my work history, but I once worked for a pseudo Irish pub joint that served luch and dinner. It's called Old Bag of Nails. I saaw the kitchen before I agreed to take the job thinking I could change things. I lasted four months. There were so many food handling infractions that I would hear people in public talking about the place and I would butt in to their conversation and tell them not to eat there. Fortunately it was only a secondary job I used as a supplement to my primary job at a Cameron Mitchell Fish Market which paid way more money. It's not all bad, though. That bad experience encouraged me to get up of my *** and go to school so I could move up faster.
post #8 of 17
My very first cooking job was at Cub Scout weekend camp out. So the very first thing we had to do was to clean all the equipment and get the facilities ready before the food deliveries arrived. Since the lodge's kitchen was used only intermittently, there was always a good bit of sweeping and wiping down to be done. However, I was totally unprepared for what waited for me at the griddle.

The fraggin grease traps where filled to the brim. Now, this is a good 60" or so griddle and had these monster grease traps, and they weren't just filled with oil. They were chock full of little burned bits of food and grit. Keep in mind, all of this had been fermenting for the 2-3 months prior.

I had to scrub those things for at least a half hour before I could look at them without gagging. I also ruined my spanking new ChefWear pants by spilling some of that noxious grease on them. The rest of the weekend was pure gravy!
post #9 of 17
Worst kitchen I ever worked in was a little Fried Clam house on the coast of Maine, 8 fry kettles on one wall and 3 feet behind you were 3 stock pot ranges for boiling lobster and no windows!!! Stacks had so much grease buildup it dripped on your head. Spent one summer because next summer it was a charred hole in the ground
Chef Steve

Chef Steve
Chef Steve

Chef Steve
post #10 of 17
hmm, working as an agency chef, i see plenty of places.

One place i worked at, hadnt been refurbished in at least 40 years and had unqualified staff everywhere. One example was seafood being left out for service - 6 till 11pm on benches in the open air or stored uncovered in fridges in collanders. On top of that, being told how to cook a steak, but i digress. Coolroom entrance was about 5'5" (im at least 5'11"), One chopping board for the entire service (never washed just wiped with a teatowel), oil all over the floors, minimal benchspace, cockroaches, stuff just thrown into coolrooms (no exclusions for cooked and raw meats veg etc.

Basically, i told the agency that my name is never to be linked to that place again.

Another place i worked at had almost the same situation, plus old equipment and a serious lack of teatowels. This place never seemed to get cleaned that often or that well, all made worse by the twin factors 1) the restaurant manageress was an ex waitress who married the owner and; 2) the previous job i worked that day was an industrial kitchen within a pharmaceutical plant (now they are clean - no exceptions)
"Nothing quite like the feeling of something newl"
"Nothing quite like the feeling of something newl"
post #11 of 17
The worse place i ever worked, It was an old mansion that was built about 1899 that had been made into a restaurant. The line was on the main floor, old, greasy outdated equipment. In the summer it got so hot you could set a pound of butter out and it would be melting in minutes. In the winter you could see your breath. The prep kitchen was in the basement. Not a remodeled basement, but old rock walled foundations. We had a steam kettle and convection oven down there. Plus the walk in and freezer. When we had a full house, the floor drains would regularly spew out sewage and wastewater. The kitchen staff was so jaded to all the problems there that they just laughed it off. Me, I was in school and needed a job that worked around my schedule. As soon as I graduated from school, I was out of there.
My life, my choice.....
My life, my choice.....
post #12 of 17

fear the chicken

I worked in a place that mainly centered around chicken. One thing they made was a breaded tempura style chicken (the method of which they had totally backwards but I was unable to convince them so) The breading the chicken was put in was used until the container was used up. Meaning : there were pieces of chicken from previous days left in there. They would reuse the batter so many times that the carbonation was long gone, but not the random pieces that got dropped in there. I would toss everything and make new,(even though I was still trying to get them to make it correctly) but they would left it until I made new again. This was the absolute grossest thing on top of leaving chicken out for hours, not leaving dishes in the sanitizer, the moldiest ice machine I have ever seen or hope to see. I did not know mold could reach such disgusting and pinkish-gray levels. I actually got fired from this place because I lost it one day in seeing the squalor around me and just being so fed up. Needless to say, I did not really care!
post #13 of 17

Spaetzle in a closet

Once I worked for an awful woman named Helga. It was my first experience working in a cafe. She owned the building and in the back on the ground floor was her apartment and she rented out to students to top half of this building.

Her sweet dog April hung out in the hallway just outside the kitchen, watching the cooks and hoping for scraps. Ther ewas no actual stove in this cafe, just burners, except for this one gas stove she kept in the back in her apartment in what used to be a closet. There I was, making the most delicious spaetzle, in a closet, with a gas stove, with no ventilation.

I never really thought about how dangerous it was - I was only 20. But looking back, I could've easily gotten into some kind of bad situation.

So, that's one of the worst experiences I've had.
post #14 of 17
When I was 14 I got a job washing dishes at a Chinese place where the aunt of the owner (the aunt did prep) would pound out chicken breasts with the spine of a heavy book, on the floor, while smoking a Winston.

Please take some time to wrap your head around that concept, for it is profound.
post #15 of 17

Just dirty

Hello Everyone New to the forum, the worst place for me was dairy queen, I worked there for a while in high school and haven't returned since....
Also wanted to share with everyone some helpful links

Thanks look forward to hearing some helpful cooking tips!:chef:
post #16 of 17
my job is a nightmare.

its been around for 34 years, mind you. it's a famous NYC restaurant.

my oven is crazy, will change temp without warning... the doors will swing open during service (just wierd)... the pastry kitchen is located 30 feet from the steam kettle (can we say humid), no dipwell or running water in my station, broken floor mats, no ventilation or exhaust, and my lo boys will break down everyother day, not to mention the random leaks.

and why haven't they fixed it? oh yeah, the owner is too busy spending money on trips around the world. and then my paycheck bounces.

love it.
post #17 of 17
The first kitchen I stepped into was a nightmare - tiny, beat up equipment, grime, roaches noticeable even in the daylight. It is a reasonably priced lunch destination in SF, classic French. Long story short, I spent my last day there boning out quail that sat at room temp for almost 16 hours, went slimy and was being circled by flies. Those birds got grilled off and served. Not wanting my first gig to be at a place that took wild liberties with even the most basic safety and sani laws, I thanked the chef and left. It was quite an introduction to the industry. Every kitchen since, however, has been well maintained for the most part. Definitely some roach issues where I am now, but the exterminator is in once a month.
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