The day we had a banquet going on for 1000 and we had a power blackout. I wanted to commit suicide. Thank heaven I was in NY and we had gas cooking. We put 5 arm candleabras on each table and pulled it off. Elevators did not work and guest left down emergency lit stairs.
It wasn't my disaster, but my neighbor's. She put a pan of eggs on to boil, forgot about them, and started driving to the community center. She remembered when she was more than halfway there, so she continued on, and called me from the center to go turn the stove off.
The pan had boiled dry, the eggs had turned to sulphur, and the house stunk to high heaven. Fortunately, the pan didn't get hot enough to melt, and the house didn't catch fire. I opened all the windows and doors and sprayed air freshner all around. It wasn't too bad after a couple of days.
that blackout banquet reminds me of this story I read about a restaurant in France. The theme was to help people understand what it would be like to be blind, so inside at the tables it was pitch dark.
Working at Sabatinos , an upscale Italian Ristorante in Toronto. Cannabis was the flavor of the day, and I'm 18. Chef asks me to make Brusshetta, no problem its in a bowl covered with saran.I begin jerking bowl up and totally enthralled by the tomato mixture hitting saran and falling back. I spend about 2or3 mins. in a euphoric awe doing this over and over.So the Matri de (i don't know how to spell that word) walks into the kitchen, and I hate this guy with a passion; I quickly turn towards him as I'm rotating bowl of Brusshetta clockwise and up, calling him "Hey Mario" my arms swinging back and then rapidly forward... I really thought that the saran would hold that mixture and of course to the utter shock that it didn't,yet laughing to see man covered from waist to head in brusshetta. The laughter lasted very briefly as I hightailed it through the kitchen, out the back door being chased by a mad man flailing a boning knife, threatening to kill me. Not returning to work that night or any thereafter
My first time at the helm of a kitchen, my chef was away for the week during reading week but I was only 2 months in on my first kitchen job. Was waiting for a long long time for the bus to get into work but it never came because the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) decided to go on an illegal wildcat strike meaning no notice. As soon as I heard, I booted for work as it would have been a 4hour walk on a Monday when we get all our orders. I was afraid all my frozens where gonna be gone by the time I got in plus I had a number of caterings. Ran past a known hanging area where cabbies go while off duty, empty. After an hour of fast-walking, a good samaritan picked me up and drove me most of the way to work, just a good 10min walk. Most of my orders was fine, turns out all the caterings were canceled for the same reason I showed up for work late.
I can name quite a few more but this was my first scrape with disaster so its got a special place in my heart.
My worst kitchen disaster happened while I was in Washington DC working for Marriott,
We were prepping for a large banquet, all the stoves were covered with pans and pots of food cooking at various stages when the Ansul system went off covering everything with that foam.
We were 3 hours from service. The kitchen was ordered closed by the health department. Management called in employees from other accounts to wash walls, the stove and all the equipment. The banquet for that evening was prepped in another kitchen 5 miles away and brought to the back door of our place just in the nick of time. In the 3 hours the kitchen was totally cleaned to satisfy the health department. Guests never knew what happened.
A common issue where I work is that some of our catering requests gets mixed up with other requests on other days. I was made aware of a simple request for cookies and fruit trays for 250 people but I was told it wasn't for another couple days. Next day, got through a rough day of lots of caterings and there was only 2 of us working on them so I was starting my clean up while my helper started setting up next day's catering. She looked at that 250 person cookie and fruit tray catering and noted the date, it was for that day in less then 1hour. Between the 2 of us, we managed to get it done and ready in just over 30mins. I had frozen cookies but only 2 working ovens, I also thankfully ordered enough fruit to assemble the trays, I also had to pull whatever other help to deliver them 2 buildings over. Suffice to say, I was beat yet surprised how fast we managed to avert this near disaster.
One a long time ago... 2nd time I cooked a whole turkey in Weber Kettle for thanksgiving dinner for 12. I didn't own a meat thermometer, and under cooked the turkey, it was not good...
More recently... We do a year end dinner for the family about 16-17 people at my sister's house, I do all the cooking (thus I have to haul like a cater a lot of stuff), and we try to make it a bit formal served in courses. Clam chowder has been a regular on the menu for several years, the first couple of times I made it fresh, but with limited kitchen space and help, I decided last year to cook the chowder the night before and heat for the meal. I finish the chowder at about 2 or 3 am in the morning pour into the large storage container turn to put into fridge, as I am sitting on shelf somehow it slips, I attempt to catch the container and knock half the hot mixture into the open fridge, under the fridge, all over the kitchen floor. I was very tired and wanted to go to bed get some sleep for the big meal later that day, but now I have to spend an hour plus cleaning out the fridge, floor, etc. I ended up making the clam chowder at the meal same as before. One problem I couldn't get enough fresh clams so had to resort to some canned, most didn't know the difference, I did.
Not mine, but my sister's doings. My sister borrows my mom's relatively new car (she has an old car, but it's unreliable for long distances) to move out after the school year from Austin to Houston. She apparently cleans out the fridge and puts some of the things in a small cooler. During the trip, things get jostled around and stuff gets thrown out of the cooler. She misses a bag of marinated meat (Vietnamese style so think fish sauce) and it goes unfound for a few days. I go to try and shampoo and vacuum to help out the smell and find a bag of brown mush. Few days of Texas summer + meat and fish sauce. Yuck..
My youngest brother started school last fall so with the incentives to buy new economic cars, my parents decide to buy a new Corolla for them to take to Austin. Only a month or two of driving the car, they go grocery shopping. My mom inquires about milk that was on the shopping list and they said thought they had paid for it and left it at the store. Guess what they found a few days later.... also during the summer.
So many to choose from - blew up the oven (resulting in the oven blowing me across the kitchen and burning off all the hair on my face and arms), numerous fires, dunked my hand in the fryer (then tried to run cold water over it, but the water was hot. Incredibly, I didn't get a blister or a scar from it), blew up the microwave, blew up the pressure cooker, and probably a lot more whose memories I've managed to suppress.
Trying to make Mole Negro for the first time....toasting the various chili seeds.....and chilis....burning eyes...smoke....hot seeds popping in my eyes...smoke out...bad.....all day and it was horrible.