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Practical Jokes in Restaurants

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
Every reataurant has something they do to break in the newbies. Just wondering if you guys would like to share some of your classics so we all can have a laugh to relieve some of the stress of the season. I'm talking about things like sending the new guy to a neighboring restaurant to borrow steam for the steam table or a left-handed saute pan, that kind of thing. Looking forward to some good laughs. Thanks in advance and Happy Thanksgiving everybody!
post #2 of 27
At TGIF... it was often enjoyable (not really responsible though) to tie baloons, gloves, small vegetables, etc. to the back of the newbie's aprons.

One would engage in conversation with the newbie to distract him, while another person ties the trash to the back of their apron delicately so he doesn't notice. The whole kitchen then keeps quiet and waits for him to finally notice he has something hanging from behind him.

We also would make sure the new guy takes out the trash, then lock the door behind him for a little bit.


I cannot support/condone our actions towards the new guy, as I was immature at the time, and I myself fell victim to some of the noob traps, but yeah we were definitely not professional/responsible when we did things like that.
post #3 of 27
At McD's (not exactly a restaurant...) we would break in new folks by asking them to do various things:

mop the freezer
scrub out the dumpster (with a handbrush and a 6th pan of water)
I think we went so far as to make them have to pull the grills/fryers and clean behind em their first night closing.

Needless to say it got bad.

As for where I am now (TGIF), we've only gone so far as blaming everything that goes wrong on the new guy (aka me...)
post #4 of 27
My favorite was to instruct the newbie to get the tools out of the drawer in front of the sink (obviously, it's only a false front) and then watch him/her try to open it.

Another, though not a joke on newbies alone, was to compete to see who could drop the most perfect pyramid of softened butter on the toe of someone's shoe without them realizing it. The winner was the one who dropped the "buttermid" that stayed on the shoe throughout the entire shift:D .

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post #5 of 27
get me a bucket of steam, or a left handed spatulia
"Laissez Le Bon Temps Roule"
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"Laissez Le Bon Temps Roule"
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post #6 of 27
All depends on how gullible they are, I guess. Had one apprentice who knew it all, nothing could shut him up. So, one day I got a hunk of puff pastry margerine, shaped it to resemble a schnitzle, flattened it, then double breaded it and lay it on a plate. Told him to be carefull with it as it was a sample and the Chef was to try it, so don't burn it, allright? Ah, the look on his face was priceless as he saw a pan full of greasy crumbs growing darker and darker.

About a year later we had a Chef saucier who was a bit more sadistic and had the same apprentice clean out the fryer "the easy way". "Look, you clear a consomme with egg whites, right? So, you just stir in a few eggwhites into the fryer, let the raft form, then lift it out, and Viola! a squeaky clean fryer." So off the apprentice goes and dumps in about a half liter of eggwhies into the hot fryer. In they go an nothing happens for a few seconds, then...Swamp-thing starts to emerge and foam, filling up the fryer, displacing some of the oil which is now trickling over the sides of the fryer. The "raft" grew to enormous proportions, as a souffle would rise, then collapsed, burning in the hot oil. That sadistic s.o.b. played it to end and gave thepoor apprentice heck for using so much eggwhite, took the poor guy all afternoon to clean up the mess....
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #7 of 27
From the sweet side,
Going back when things were not all PC. We would get some interns that were perticularly nosey about everything, even to the point of not paying attention to what they were doing.
If it got bad, we would gather around a bench and start pondering over a metal container. We would pretend to be taking very large sniffs of this product to see if it was ready for use. We discussed it in depth for minutes and then just walk away from it. Inside was ammonium Bicarb.
So needless to say, in 2-3 minutes, we would hear the intern hit the floor like a ton of bricks.
I know, really bad
pan
FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #8 of 27
These posts remind me of my hubby's days in the Marine Corp...he worked in a Helicopter maintenance/repair squad, and they would send the newbies out for a bucket of "Prop Wash" or ___ Ft of "Flight Line" :blush:

He gave the bucket joke a twist when he entered the high-tech world, and would send the new young trainees out to find a "Byte bucket" and collect all the spilled "bytes" in the data center -- LOL :talk:

Way off topic, but these things happen in every industry...

Cheers,

Micki
--o--o--o--o--o--o--o--o--
Micki, aka Pastry Maven

"Yom-yom-yooom, ze chocolad!"
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--o--o--o--o--o--o--o--o--
Micki, aka Pastry Maven

"Yom-yom-yooom, ze chocolad!"
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post #9 of 27
The "bucket of steam" is a really old Navy prank. We'd send a newbie on a bridge watch down to the engine room...

Which, depending on the ship, could be eight or ten blocks away and down eight or ten flights of stair... oops - ladders.

Mike :lol:
travelling gourmand
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travelling gourmand
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post #10 of 27


I had to resurrect this thread because we all have a good story to tell......So some 35 years ago I'm running the kitchen and Wheeling the rush (That's inside Expo to you kids) at the local  "Ground Round"...ya way back.....It's a saturday night and we are packed with a waiting line out the door already going into out third service of the night.....just to break the monotony of the hellish night it was.... I see the busboy out of the corner of my eye at the end of the line. I yell over to him "Hey you, run downstairs and get me a box or steam and Hurry, the night depends on you!" I think nothing of it and continue my thing on the line..about 25 min later I see the waitstaff pissin' off at something, yelling at the dishwashers....whatever, I'm in the middle of a rush can't deal with their BS. Well another 20 min goes by and I see the GM standing at the end of the line with a sneer on his face and his arms folded. We are restocking the line for the final push and he yells out. "Ok...who sent the busboy downstairs for a box of steam?" Not knowing what happened, I yell back "Hot Steam or Cold Steam"... "What the hells the difference smarts" he yells back....I respond "Well the Hot steams in the Red Box and the Cold Steam is in the Blue Box!!" Well.....apparently the young busboy didn't realize it was a joke and searched frantically for a box of steam...It freaked him out so much..they found him downstairs crying his eyes out because he couldn't find it and he thought he ruined the night..lol....Meanwhile no one was bussing the tables and the waitstaff had to do it and that's what they were pissed off at. Well at the end of the night I of course got pulled into the office and got read the riot act up and down and all around. On my way out to apologize to the waitstaff and tell them I'd never do that again..(Ya right) The boss grabs me and says if you ever do that again I'm writing you up...off the record....funniest friggin thing I ever saw!!! and patted me on the back....Didn't laugh about it then but a month later at a party that everyone was at and had a few in them.....we told the story again and everyone there was in tears laughing after everything was said and done......almost as funny as when one day I got some stuff packed in dry Ice and in the middle of the rush I put the dry ice in the soup warmer out front and it did it's thing....ya..I stopped the waitress with the fire extinguisher before bad stuff happened...

post #11 of 27

I consider pranking a form of bullying. It's a type of workplace hostility. I would not choose to work for nor patronize a business that tolerated such behavior.

 

And I'm embarrassed to be a moderator of a group of people that condones the behavior. 

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #12 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by phatch View Post
 

I consider pranking a form of bullying. It's a type of workplace hostility. I would not choose to work for nor patronize a business that tolerated such behavior.

 

And I'm embarrassed to be a moderator of a group of people that condones the behavior. 

Bullying can be identified when context is defined. 

 

Pranking can be bullying, but a prank is not by definition, defacto bullying. 

 

Pranking in a dynamic of dominant - subdominant/ subservient can be harmful, especially if the context warrants it. 

 

All it takes is for the person to say no. I didn't think it was funny. It should stop after that. 

 

Some people also believe pranking in commercial kitchen settings is a rite of passage. In some cultures this is necessary to be accepted by the group. 

 

No, I'm not a social scientist or psychologist, but play one on the internet. 

post #13 of 27
It's all about power. I can think of no context where it rises to professional behavior.

If your culture uses it for acceptance, change your culture to a more mature one
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #14 of 27


ease up..it was it was 30 years ago.....j t b is correct...there are certain rights of passages that happen in a kitchen. it forms bonds and everyone gets a laugh. "Go find the kitchen stretcher" or "Hey when your're slicing onions on the slicer, put a piece of bread in your mouth so you don't tear up" just to name a few  It's NOT Hazing it's a practical joke and it happens once or twice. To me, bullying is a constant attack on someone and doing mean things....but If you want to consider it bullying, well feel free, Odds are you'd be perceived as kind of a wuss if you ran to your chef and cried about it. I think this is an example of how the world had changed and gotten weaker over the last 30 years. There is no more sticks and stone will break my bones but names will never hurt me. 

post #15 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Justa Chef View Post
 


ease up..it was it was 30 years ago.....j t b is correct...there are certain rights of passages that happen in a kitchen. it forms bonds and everyone gets a laugh. "Go find the kitchen stretcher" or "Hey when your're slicing onions on the slicer, put a piece of bread in your mouth so you don't tear up" just to name a few  It's NOT Hazing it's a practical joke and it happens once or twice. To me, bullying is a constant attack on someone and doing mean things....but If you want to consider it bullying, well feel free, Odds are you'd be perceived as kind of a wuss if you ran to your chef and cried about it. I think this is an example of how the world had changed and gotten weaker over the last 30 years. There is no more sticks and stone will break my bones but names will never hurt me. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by phatch View Post

It's all about power. I can think of no context where it rises to professional behavior.

If your culture uses it for acceptance, change your culture to a more mature one

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by phatch View Post

It's all about power. I can think of no context where it rises to professional behavior.

If your culture uses it for acceptance, change your culture to a more mature one


Looking at your profile...there is no indication that you are in the food service industry so correct me if I'm wrong. That being the circumstance, you wouldn't understand what we are talking about and your perception would differ from someone who has spent time in a kitchen. If you haven't worked in a kitchen, maybe this in one of those topics on the board you should steer away from if it bothers you so? Yes, you're entitled to your opinion, but your commenting on something outside your rhelm of understanding and comprehending......just sayin'

post #16 of 27
I've seen pranks in many places I've worked. I chose not to stay at those places long.

There is no way to justify your humor at someone else's expense. Think about it. You're inflicting harassment shame and embarassment for your entertainment.

Just saying.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #17 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by phatch View Post

I've seen pranks in many places I've worked. I chose not to stay at those places long.

There is no way to justify your humor at someone else's expense. Think about it. You're inflicting harassment shame and embarassment for your entertainment.

Just saying.


Seriously now...with respect to you position here...do you not have a backbone?...You just shot down every comedian that ever stepped foot on a stage..Ribbin' someone and having a laugh in a kitchen is a bonding trait.... as it is in EVERY blue collar job. Even in offices they play pranks...with your perception life would be wicked boring. I've given and taken in my life with no harm done. Like I said if it's bullying meaning a constant attack on someone until they freak out...that's a different story. But to have some fun at someones expense...ya so? How many jobs have you gone through if you don't mind me asking'?

post #18 of 27

Hasty generalizations don't reflect reality. 

 

There are pranks that are considered bullying, and pranks that are in good fun among peers that enjoy each others company, social psychology aside. 

 

A distinction needs to be made. You cannot blur the lines and call all pranks bullying. 

 

Sorry Phatch, I simply don't agree. Maturity and professionalism has nothing to do with it. I've been in extremely professional settings where practical jokes break the tension.

 

I do agree however, that in this particular case, it was probably uncalled for. It's clear this person was susceptible to be fooled by a box of steam.

 

I don't condone making fun of people that aren't amenable to it, and that responsibility lies with the prankster.


Edited by jake t buds - 4/12/16 at 1:23pm
post #19 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by jake t buds View Post
 

Hasty generalizations don't reflect reality. 

 

There are pranks that are considered bullying, and pranks that are in good fun among peers that enjoy each others company, social psychology aside. 

 

A distinction needs to be made. You cannot blur the lines and call all pranks bullying. 

 

Sorry Phatch, I simply don't agree. Maturity and professionalism has nothing to do with it. I've been in extremely professional settings where practical jokes break the tension.

 

I do agree however, that in this particular case, it was probably uncalled for. It's clear this person was susceptible to be fooled by a box of steam.

 

I don't condone making fun of people that aren't amenable to it, and that responsibility lies with the prankster.


Lets keep in mind it was 30 years ago....as far as the victim of the prank. He laughed his ass of at the party we had a few weeks later and it came up,. He eventually became a prep cook under me then a line cook ..... and eventually a sous chef......and he too pulled off a few dooooozies in his culinary career. He now owns a place in the northwest and we still speak to this day and every time we speak we laugh again. Pranks as long as they don't hurt anyone will always be a part of bonding and becoming the strong team it takes to run an efficient operation. I'm sorry if some folks feel different...odds are you probably wouldn't have made it in any of my kitchens and odds are you probably wouldn't fit in and be unwanted anyhow. Box of steam....lol

post #20 of 27

There is a time and a place for everything. I am a big tease, love stupid jokes, and having fun.

 

The "prank" took a member of the team out of commission for 45 minutes on a busy night. It effected the person it was played on. It effected coworkers. It effected guests. etc. etc. etc. Bottom line, it effected the business. It was neither the time nor the place.

 

I have no sense of humor and zero tolerance for actions that negatively effect my business. At the very least, the perpetrator would have a note filed in in my mental employee files..exhibits poor judgement.

 

As to rites of passage, forming bonds, etc, I think Groucho Marx summed it up best in a letter to a Hollywood club that sent him an invitation to join, "I don't want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member."

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #21 of 27
Most comedians i find unfunny, yes.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #22 of 27

I kind of agree with phatch...there is nothing wrong with having some fun at work and joking around. Practical jokes, however, often dive into the realm of mean spirited bullying and inefficient use of resources. Not to mention un-professionalism. 

 

I mean, Justachef, you are basically bragging about how you made someone cry 30 years ago.... sooo, cool? Good for you?  :rolleyes: 


If chefs and cooks ever want to be taken seriously as a profession and respected by society, these types of things need to get phased out. Luckily, I think they mostly are. 

post #23 of 27


well I guess when you're 20 years old you just don't think about stuff like that......but the fact of the matter was it really didn't negatively effect anything in the long run..nor did it negatively effect customers...it was not premeditated and everyone got al uagh out of it...no harm done....Guess backbones were tougher back then...lol...so the outcome of this is I'd never work for you and you'd never work for me because I allow that stuff in the kitchen....and i've never seen anyone physically hurt by a prank...so Carry on.....

post #24 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Someday View Post
 

I kind of agree with phatch...there is nothing wrong with having some fun at work and joking around. Practical jokes, however, often dive into the realm of mean spirited bullying and inefficient use of resources. Not to mention un-professionalism. 

 

I mean, Justachef, you are basically bragging about how you made someone cry 30 years ago.... sooo, cool? Good for you?  :rolleyes: 


If chefs and cooks ever want to be taken seriously as a profession and respected by society, these types of things need to get phased out. Luckily, I think they mostly are. 


gotta lighten up and read everything that was written not just what you feel you want to...bragging...not at all..but if you need to twist an manipulate something to suit you need...go for it...LOL...Try not to make something out of nothing....

post #25 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Justa Chef View Post
 


gotta lighten up and read everything that was written not just what you feel you want to...bragging...not at all..but if you need to twist an manipulate something to suit you need...go for it...LOL...Try not to make something out of nothing....

 

Meh, not really. Your post if full of lol's and back pats, sounds like bragging to me. Not sure how I'm twisting something if I took it at face value. 

 

I'm happy this happened a really long time ago and is (hopefully) being phased out of the industry. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Justa Chef View Post
 


well I guess when you're 20 years old you just don't think about stuff like that......but the fact of the matter was it really didn't negatively effect anything in the long run..nor did it negatively effect customers...it was not premeditated and everyone got al uagh out of it...no harm done....Guess backbones were tougher back then...lol...so the outcome of this is I'd never work for you and you'd never work for me because I allow that stuff in the kitchen....and i've never seen anyone physically hurt by a prank...so Carry on.....

 

Has nothing to do with backbone or the thickness of skin, has more to do with professionalism and respect. I've worked in some world class, tough as nails kitchen, screaming chef, the whole deal. Gotta be tough to do that. But those chefs only yelled when it was warranted, didn't completely brain me or pick on me, and respected me enough to not waste my time with childish pranks. And, oh yeah, taught me a lot too.  

 

You said yourself he perpetuated the cycle in one of your other posts. No one was hurt physically, I guess. You say everyone got a laugh out of it, by which you mean everyone other than the kid who was crying downstairs. And great, he went on to keep working for you. I guess the ends justify the means. But he also went on to contribute to the shitty "bro" locker room culture of the kitchen. How many kids did he go on to "prank" in his career? Can you vouch that all of them were cool with it? 

 

Like I said, I take comfort knowing that this type of BS is slowly being phased out of the professional kitchen. I've got too much work to do waste it on stuff like that. 

post #26 of 27

Thirty years I worked for a chef that loved to prank waitstaff. From years of working hot lines he had no feeling asbestos lined fingers, every night he would bare hand an oven hot plate to a wait staff member, who would immediately yelp and set the plate down. He got a huge laugh out it, but it didn't negatively effect anything in the long run, no harm done, backbones were tougher back then so the wait staff rolled with the punches and life went on.

 

Actually, backbones weren't tougher, people wanted to keep their jobs so they went along. The owner didn't want to upset the chef and possibly lose him, so he went along. One night I had enough and I backed the chef into a corner and let him know in no uncertain terms what I thought of his behavior. Later on the owner thanked me and said it was about time that someone stood up to him.

 

Yeah, those were the good old days,... we were just one big happy bonded team having fun!

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #27 of 27


yes..my mentor chef was this little 5 foot Sicilian nutcase that would scream and shout ...throw pots and pans at you...wicked old school.....but at the end of the day would put his arm around you and take you out for a beer. I learned a lot from him and was happy to be part of it all. Everyone has their stories and everyone has their feelings about it...it's not about the end justify the means thick or thin skins and you can run your kitchens the way you want them. Pranks had been being pulled in kitchens for literally century's....These days I guess there are a lot of liberal weenies who frown upon it....all's well and good for them, but things will never change...whether it be a kitchen, an auto body shop, a construction site even on sports teams whether you like it or not it is the right of passage and they will continue to pull pranks....I bet you all hate Gordon Ramsey. Is what he pulls on TV and how he portrays kitchens really the way it is in every kitchen...I don't think so....LOL

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