or Connect
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Professional Food Service › Professional Chefs › What is the worst kitchen story you have?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

What is the worst kitchen story you have?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

So many chefs out there have a culminating story they love to tell.  Whether that is a nasty chef that did off the wall things and yelled and screamed daily.  Or some food abominations and crazy co workers.  I think the kitchens can cook up some of the best stories of all.

 

My story was when I first started cooking when I was about 15.  Everything was hunky dory until the executive chef quit and the sous chef took over.  She was literally crazy, she would yell and scream about nothing, you could not satisfy her.  She would throw pots and pans and kick people out of the kitchen.  I remember one time it was her responsibility to get dinner service ready and she specifically told us to not to prep because she was going to.  She got back 45 minutes from dinner service and started screaming at us about why we had not started everything for dinner service.  Oh the days....

 

“Bringing People Together Through Food”

 

Follow me on Linkedin

Reply

 

“Bringing People Together Through Food”

 

Follow me on Linkedin

Reply
post #2 of 16

Owner's stepson hired as restaurant manager, never worked in the business.

Seen red faced and angry while placing water glasses on a kitchen scale.

When asked why he looked so mad: "these are supposed to be 8 ounce water glasses, they weigh almost a pound! We're getting ripped off!".

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
Reply
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
Reply
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Just Jim View Post

Owner's stepson hired as restaurant manager, never worked in the business.

Seen red faced and angry while placing water glasses on a kitchen scale.

When asked why he looked so mad: "these are supposed to be 8 ounce water glasses, they weigh almost a pound! We're getting ripped off!".

Wow!  That is a good one!  How old was this lad?

 

“Bringing People Together Through Food”

 

Follow me on Linkedin

Reply

 

“Bringing People Together Through Food”

 

Follow me on Linkedin

Reply
post #4 of 16
My worst night of my career was this past Valentine's Day.

Sous cuts himself badly during prep, severs a nerve and a tendon. This puts us down 2 cooks, as another has the flu. I know things will be rough now, but don't panic, just work harder.

Other sous begins to help me. In the time it takes me to make 50 jumbo tortellini (including rolling my own pasta) they make a mushroom cream sauce. The guy spends most of his day screwing the pooch.

Just before dinner service, chef asks if we're okay, and we're as ready as can be, but there is trouble ahead. He says "good luck" and goes home. Poor choice.

Dining room has been greedily over booked from 5, straight through close. Immediately the line is swamped. My line cook starts to get shellshocked, this particular sous never works line and tries to call, while I try to play damage control over all the stuff that is missing as orders are coming in 3 times faster than they can go out.

First dining room seating has only 1 hour to flip a 3 course menu Valentine's experience before second seating, and the servers are getting stressed. Front end manager asks what the problem is.
"You greedily over booked, and I'm down 2 people" I respond.
"It was like this last year" she snipes back.
"No it certainly was not, I stood right here for the last 4, and never did you book like this, we're boned"

Food goes out as quickly as the small line can manage, my cook is taking basic commands, but still shell shocked.

I have servers standing at the end of my line crying, because guests are getting impatient, some just plain irate... Everyone is the most important on Valentine's day... hotel GM comes in to see the carnage and asks where the chef is. I say he went home, and wouldn't answering his phone. At this point, front and back start turning on each other. I holler over everyone that this is not the time, even with my own thoughts of packing it in... grab a rammekin of cold water and keep grinding.

5 hours go by. No one leaves the line. Comped out as much food as we basically overbooked.

At around 11:30, I personally thanked the entire front end for surviving, and headed home a burnt out wreckage.
post #5 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robbie Rensel View Post

Wow!  That is a good one!  How old was this lad?

Unfortunately, his mid 30's.

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
Reply
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
Reply
post #6 of 16

Every day at the diner was a nightmare... needless to say I lasted a month there and quit via email effective immediately.   There's not one thing there that stands out as the worst, it was just a terrible experience.  I was poorly trained and the owner didn't have time to properly train me and the staff said eff it because I was brought in as KM and they were passed over for the job, so what I learned there was how not to run a restaurant.

 

Worst experience ever... I had just started at the breakfast place when the AKM did a no call no show.  I opened and I did what I had to do and then went on prep and the next thing I knew the 8am guy was in and it was left to him and I to run the line.  We got slammed that day and one of the owners saved my life when he asked me if it would help me if he came into the kitchen and worked the meat grill and all I said was "please?" and while we were in the shits for a while his presence definitely helped alot.  That AKM got fired, and it wasn't long after that the KM left, and then my former KM and I took over and ran the kitchen.  

OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
Reply
OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
Reply
post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pancake house View Post

My worst night of my career was this past Valentine's Day.

Sous cuts himself badly during prep, severs a nerve and a tendon. This puts us down 2 cooks, as another has the flu. I know things will be rough now, but don't panic, just work harder.

Other sous begins to help me. In the time it takes me to make 50 jumbo tortellini (including rolling my own pasta) they make a mushroom cream sauce. The guy spends most of his day screwing the pooch.

Just before dinner service, chef asks if we're okay, and we're as ready as can be, but there is trouble ahead. He says "good luck" and goes home. Poor choice.

Dining room has been greedily over booked from 5, straight through close. Immediately the line is swamped. My line cook starts to get shellshocked, this particular sous never works line and tries to call, while I try to play damage control over all the stuff that is missing as orders are coming in 3 times faster than they can go out.

First dining room seating has only 1 hour to flip a 3 course menu Valentine's experience before second seating, and the servers are getting stressed. Front end manager asks what the problem is.
"You greedily over booked, and I'm down 2 people" I respond.
"It was like this last year" she snipes back.
"No it certainly was not, I stood right here for the last 4, and never did you book like this, we're boned"

Food goes out as quickly as the small line can manage, my cook is taking basic commands, but still shell shocked.

I have servers standing at the end of my line crying, because guests are getting impatient, some just plain irate... Everyone is the most important on Valentine's day... hotel GM comes in to see the carnage and asks where the chef is. I say he went home, and wouldn't answering his phone. At this point, front and back start turning on each other. I holler over everyone that this is not the time, even with my own thoughts of packing it in... grab a rammekin of cold water and keep grinding.

5 hours go by. No one leaves the line. Comped out as much food as we basically overbooked.

At around 11:30, I personally thanked the entire front end for surviving, and headed home a burnt out wreckage.

Sounds like a horrific night, there is no stress like that.  The only thing that could have gone worse is if your dishwasher would have broken or your dish guy walked out.  We had that happen once and our executive chef soon realized how important the dishwasher is.  Great job on pulling it together!

 

“Bringing People Together Through Food”

 

Follow me on Linkedin

Reply

 

“Bringing People Together Through Food”

 

Follow me on Linkedin

Reply
post #8 of 16

This is more a restaurant story than a kitchen story although it was my first ever restaurant opening as the Chef.

 

It was about 26 years ago when (almost to the day) a friend and I took over a restaurant on St. Simmons Island, Georgia  The place had been abandoned over 6 months earlier when the power had been shut off, mid shift. From the looks of things, everyone just walked out in the middle of the shift. I say this because everything from Saute pans on the stove, food in the steam table, walk-ins, freezer, even food and drinks on the tables remained sitting right where it originally was. They all walked out. Now add 6 months of decomposition! Took 2 roll-off dumpsters, 150 gallons of bleach and 3 months to get the place cleaned enough to earn the health certification. Ah....those were the days......mid twenty's running a restaurant located on Coastal Georgia! Shame it didn't last. Freighter Ship took out the Draw bridge from Jekyll Island to the area and added 60 miles to the drive. Not doing any business, the partnership I was in tanked quickly and was gone in a year. Ironically, me leaving was what saved the business. That second salary was the difference and my friend kept the place open until he was killed in a car wreck a couple years later.

post #9 of 16


Totally been there Pancake House.

My experience was a carbon copy of your Valentine's Day fiasco only it was Mother's Day brunch which coincided with Duke University AND the University of North Carolina commencement ceremonies. It started at 9 AM and didn't stop until 11 that night.

Totally inexperience FOH manager took every reservation that came in regardless of whether we had that many seats in the restaurant available. Total chairs in the resto- 250. Total reservations walking in at 10 AM-325. Now where are those 75 people supposed to go?

www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

Reply

www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

Reply
post #10 of 16

i have horror stories i dont know wether to laugh or cry about it.

The restaurant i work at, has these Company launches deals, which is fine and all, but this monday morning i was in charge of making the hot meal for the day, which was a tart with chicken, i go to our fridge to find the chicken beast that i was going to use i see the covered in blood, it must have been like that for atleast 2 days cause the blood, was sucked into many of the chickenbreasts. i go to my headchef and tells him that the chicken breasts are ruined/filthy/contaminated. he just says oh they are fine just get going, i was so embrassed that i had to make food that could actually kill someone,

in my opinion is completely unfair to your customer to serve them food that only would be worth feeding pigs with, but as i have no control over the daily production i just have to Nod and smile and continue working.
 

post #11 of 16

NIckon, if you feel that the chicken is unsafe and you are being forced to cook it, place an anonymous call to your local Heath unit and complain...

OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
Reply
OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
Reply
post #12 of 16

ok so ofcourse I have my fair share of horror stories as well. My number one horror story may have taken place when I was just a baby in the kitchen. It was my first cook job and we were slow this particular day, not to mention I worked a slow station to top it off (pizza station in a fine dining restaurant) that said the sous chef who I swear hated my existence asked me to make a small diced mirepoix for soup for the next day. It had to be every bit of 3 or so gallons of mirepoix I chopped. This being my starting point my knife skills left a little to be desired to be nice to myself lol. I small diced the celery no problem. Small diced the carrots no problem. But the amount of Onions and their strength made me get teary eyed so I started chopping them any which way to get done faster. When everything was chopped I mixed them all together to try and hide the chunks of onion. Sure enough when I brung it to the sous chef he screamed at me for messing up the onions and made me clock out and pick out as many of the onions that I could pick out from the mirepoix. Needless to say I learned my lesson and got a lot better with knife skills after that day. Also learned not to cover up my mistakes admit to them and try to fix them not try to hide them and potentially get myself into more hot water.. I hated that sous chef that day going forward but later I began to appreciate him for the lesson he taught me. And I realize I was the bad guy that day not him. Hope I run into him one day to share that story with him and see if he remembers it and thank him for the lesson

post #13 of 16
One of the roughest nights of my career turned into a game changer for me. About 7 1/2 years ago I was working a country club about a year out of culinary school as the interim sous chef. Interim as in it was a small town and the previous sous chef had recently gone to jail. The club had hired a guy to manage independently so it had turned into a shady business. We were all paid under the table except for the chef. We were paid what we should be getting paid after taxes but it was all off the books. Because of this, finding someone who was to replace the previous sous chef was not easy. I was also going to school full time, as well as working full time. 
 
There was Friday night the chef was going out of town. I had been the interim at this point for a couple of months. I was a competent enough line cook and could hold my own at this point.  On a Friday night, we usually had the chef, me, and one other cook/dishwasher on duty. Shouldn't have been a problem. The chef told me that a cook who was very good as well from the manager's other restaurant in town would help out that evening. So far everything seems fine.
 
I get in to the restaurant after class about 3 1/2 hours before service was to start. The other cook was supposed to arrive at 4:30, an hour before service. I had already finished a great deal of prep the night before so I should have had enough time. SHOULD have had enough time. That's when things started to happen. I got in and my several ingredients for the weekend specials had not come in. The manager had also come by and had taken a bunch of my mise en place over to his other restaurant. Shot to the gut number three, I found out at 4:00 that my dishwasher got arrested for fraud. I try calling the other dishwasher but since it was his night off, he had taken a trip with friends and was 2 1/2 hours away and drunk at a party. After spending 15 minutes I didn't have to spare on unsuccessfully finding a dishwasher for the night, I throw myself into prep, trying to catch up and improvise the specials. My entire game plan was screwed up and I'm trying to recover. I'm working in my mind how to double on the saute station, expediting, and washing dishes, at least the pots and pans. The kitchen is small so it seems feasible. 
 
And now for the best part, the cook that's supposed to be helping me hasn't shown up yet and its 5:00. I start panicking. I call the manager at the other restaurant and ask where Clint was. He's puzzled at the question. He then realizes "oops". Clint didn't have a car so I had to go pick him up. He was at the other restaurant. It's only 5 minutes away, but that's still about 10 minutes of lost time. On top of that, still have to fill Clint in on all the specials, as well as tonight's unique working arrangements.
 
I can't give a lot of details of the evening because the night was mostly a blur. I remember though it did not go smoothly. We were overbooked. I worked my stations while Clint picked up grill and fry. At one point a waiter was nice enough and came over and would work the fry station between tables to give us a little relief. It was one of those nights that everyone has had where the ticket line gets longer and longer, the evening goes slower and slower, and food just doesn't seem to be going fast enough. Finally around 8:00, the manager walks in I tell him to start doing dishes since I'm still in the weeds without me doing dishes.
 
Eventually the last orders get out. Tickets times were not fast, but everyone got fed. The night ended with me passing out with a cup of coffee at an empty bar. I felt horrible and that I had let the chef down. The one bright side happened the next night. The chef was back in town and Saturday went down with no incident. After service, he came up to me and said I was the new permanent sous chef. He said that I had a nightmare of a night, but I didn't back down or give up. He'd seen people walk out in that situation but I had kept going and didn't complain, just cursed under my breath a lot. That's why he was giving me a shot at the position. 
 
I look back now and kind of chuckle that one of the worst nights of my career turned into a huge turning point at the same time.
post #14 of 16

Hey Chef's, I am very sorry to bother you, but this thread came to my attention, as it has to do with my Thesis Topic 'The Value of Professional Cooking in Ireland'. 

I am a final year Culinary Arts student. The intention is to conduct research regarding the Value of Professional cooking in Ireland, under the supervision of Patrick Zaidan. If you are currently (or have been recently) employed in a Hotel or Restaurant (Brasserie etc.). I need your help! Please no canteen cooks, as this research focuses on Chefs employed in Hotels and Restaurants only.

 

I would be more than grateful, if you could spare a few minutes of your valuable time to participate. 

This questionnaire will approximately take 5 minutes.  All responses will be treated with due respect.
 
The link:
 
 
Thanking you in advance,
 
Lara.
post #15 of 16

While still working in Canada a cook that was not liked very much went on holiday and left his knives.  One clown in the kitchen needed a boneing knife so he ground down the cooks 10 inch chef knife.  The funny thing, the knife worked great, nice big handel and firm blade.  I called the clown a clown and never even let him touch my knives at all.  The cook came back and quit the next day while cursing everyone in the kitchen.  I quit 2 weeks later.

post #16 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kostendorf View Post

While still working in Canada a cook that was not liked very much went on holiday and left his knives.  One clown in the kitchen needed a boneing knife so he ground down the cooks 10 inch chef knife.  The funny thing, the knife worked great, nice big handel and firm blade.  I called the clown a clown and never even let him touch my knives at all.  The cook came back and quit the next day while cursing everyone in the kitchen.  I quit 2 weeks later.

Kostendorf, that is nuts, I cannot believe that!  But...he should have never left his knives there.  At least put them in a locked tool box.

 

“Bringing People Together Through Food”

 

Follow me on Linkedin

Reply

 

“Bringing People Together Through Food”

 

Follow me on Linkedin

Reply
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Professional Chefs
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Professional Food Service › Professional Chefs › What is the worst kitchen story you have?