Worst Kitchen Mistake

Joined Mar 9, 2000
OK, another chance for us to expose ourselves and be honest for the sake of entertainment and to show we're human. What is one of the worst mistakes you've made in the kitchen?

I'll start, when I first started with Hyatt, many a year ago, I wanted so hard to please the chef so I volunteered to make a big batch of carrot mousse (the warm kind, poached in timbale) I ruined 25 pounds of carrots by purreeing the mixture using cold
manufacturing cream. Two buckets full of whipped cream with chunks of carrots, OUCH! Things only got better from that point as you can imagine.;)
Joined Nov 20, 2000
My first internship from school at the Grand Hotel in Washington, DC. The Sous Chef Leng, a guy from Cambodia had me break down about 60 chickens for employee meal. I was to then roast them on sheet pans. After that we would make "dipping sauce".
After breaking down, pinching a nerve in my elbow (that to this day I can feel) roasting the chickens, putting them in hotel pans and cleaning up, I went to Leng and asked okay, what's next? He said "now we make the dipping sauce". I thought cool, I love oriental cooking. Maybe a soy based sauce or a sweet dipping sauce. Visions danced in my head. He asked "where are the sheet pans?" I told them I brought them to the dishwasher. He hit his head and said NO! We need them to make dipping sauce. I said I know. How. He said (in a fairly thick oriental accent)"With the dippings from the pans, you know dipping sauce"!!! You mean DRIPPING sauce from the DRIPPINGS?!?!Oh s_ _t! Score 1 point on Lengs "s_ _t list."
Joined Nov 20, 2000
2nd mistake, same kitchen. We made hamburgers from fresh ground Top Round. I was told to break down a 40# round and grind it for burger. I set up the grinder and spent the next 90 minutes trying to grind expensive Top Round into burger meat with the plate on backwards! The Chef wondered what was taking so long, but I guess he just thought I was slow. Until Leng came up. I figured this meat just sucked and was full of gristle and sinew and stuff. It was coming out like pasty toothpaste in weird squiggly strands. Leng reset the machine correctly, and I ground the last 5# correctly. It looked a lot different than mine!! Point #2 on Lengs s_ _t list!:rolleyes:
Joined Mar 4, 2000
I might have posted this in the past, but it still rates as my most horrific kitchen mistake. I was 19, working in the pastry kitchen at the NY Hilton. I was creaming about 8 lb. of very cold butter in a 20 qt. mixer. I should never have walked away, because in about 3 minutes, the mixer had shimmied it's way to the edge of the table, and went crashing to the floor. The shop was without a 20 qt. mixer for the next week, and it was all because that new girl wasn't watching her butter.:eek:
Joined Oct 28, 1999
When I was 18, I was working in a top-shelf restaurant in Pittsburgh. I was told to brown the top of the foccacia that had just been layered with sage and paper thin slices of potato. I popped the tray under the salamander. Walked away... Talked to the dishwasher... Talked to the saute guy... Wiped down my area... Remembered the tray, about 15 minutes later. :eek: The "Towering Inferno" comes to mind. Not that the foccacia had been burned to a shriveled crouton, but the smoke coming out of the 7'4", 350# chef... immediately after I paniced and pulled the tray out of the salamander and set it down on his hand.
I never, ever walk away from a 'loaded' salamander to this day!
Joined Nov 20, 2000
This has the makings of a very funny thread. Might I add one more? Before I went to school I was the evening cook at a local hospital. We had an industrial electric element broiler. The type that the whole top is red and flaming instead of rows like a gas one.
I was going to broil a sheet tray of hamburgers and I put them under the broiler. I didn't think about the gallon of flammable grease that was collecting on the pan. Just shy of flash point the F&B Director, an old English fellow with a gimp and a temper walked by. I pulled the tray out and as they taught us in science class the addition of oxygen to a flame created a towering inferno as well nearly catching him on fire as well. He hopped back and in a very flustered English accent said something like "are you just going to stand there or do something"? I was in a bit of shock but luckily didn't throw water on it. Instead I grabbed salt I think (thank god it wasn't flour!!!) and doused it as he walked away grumbling. I kept my job but not without a significant amount of help from the Chef! Learned a lesson though, I did!:bounce:
Joined Feb 21, 2001
This happened at home, my new home, when I had the family over for thanksgiving. I was making popovers and put a little bit too much grease in the pans. the batter pushed the fat out, it caught fire, and imitating a chef who used to pour milk on the smoldering cheese from the onion soups on the broiler, I poured milk on a grease fire. they could see the orange glow from the flames pouring out the top of the stove from around the corner in the living room. I stood there paralyzed, thinking there goes my investment. My brother, who owns the other half of the duplex, leaned over and shut the door, eventually smothering the fire.
Joined Sep 21, 2001
When I was a teenager, and had just started in restaurtants, I had a date with this girl from work. She thought I was the best cook at the pancake house... Anyhow, she loved oriental food, and I thought I would try to impress her with my "cooking knowledge". I grew up with canned chow mein, and we might "spice it up" by adding frozen peas or something like that. I had no clue as to how to make a stirfried anything, but of course that didn't stop me. And I wouldn't tell her.
I go to the grocery store, grab the canned bean sprouts and water chestnuts and as I grab the canned chow mein, I decide I'll make some sort of tasty seafood thing. So I buy a piece of Dover Sole.
She arrives, I have a table set, cheap wine, the whole bit. I heat up a skillet and start some oil to heat and put in the sole. It spontaneously disintegtrates into this goo. So I throw in the veggies. Now I have fish goo covered veggies. I plate it up and we sit. She takes one bite, downs the glass of wine and smiles politely. I get the message. We went out for burgers!
Joined Dec 12, 2000
one time I sliced about 80 or 100 portions of ham, and didn't realize till the next day that there was a layer of wax paper on the ham, so I went to the manager and told him, guess what I had to do.... I had to take every portion of ham, sliced paper thin I might add, and tear all the edges off, without losing too much meat.
Another time I went into the cooler to grab a couple of buckets of spaghetti sauce, so I could put it in the steamer to heat, well about an hour later when I took the sauce out of the steamer, I found out that someone had put a lid marked spaghetti on a bucket filled with pancake batter.
oh yeah and I flooded the soup area a couple of times, I had just emptied the soup of sauce that I had made, then I was filling the pot with water so it could soak until the dishwasher got around to scrubbing it, the first time I just left the tap on and went for coffee (talk about brain dead), the second time I think I was organizing my storage areas in the basement.
within the last six months, I accidentally overflowed the deepfryer filter, that was a blast, and took a wheel barrow of kitty litter and over an hour to clean. someone had changed to oil, and forgot to pump the old oil out of the filter, so I come along, open up the filter switch to clean my fryer, walk away to get my cleaning tools, come back to the mess. and I got blamed for it, by the guy who left the filter full, 'because I should have looked'.
Joined Mar 9, 2000
I forgot 2 square heads of braising lamb shanks in the oven over night. Bye Bye lamb, Hello best lamb demi you ever had! I yelled out,"I worked long and hard on these things, and THIS IS THE SHANKS I GET!" bada boom. At least it broke the tension of the moment.:eek:
Joined Jul 24, 2001
We were having my mother in law for Sunday lunch in our house for the fist tiem after our marriage.

I wanted to impress her of course so I chose a typical Greek dish , I knew she loved to have and she wpuld appreciate : Yiouvarlakia.

This is a kind of meat balls with rice, tomato sauce and cooked in a casserole.

According to my recipe just before you place them in the casserole you sprinkle some flours all over them.

By mistake instead of flour I took the caster sugar....

They were smelling so great and when we sat at the table she tasted first. She is a very nice lady and she didn't tell a word...
I was the next to taste them and they were so sweet that at the beginning I thought that they were salty... Imagine...

Nick who is not as polite as his nice mother when he put one in his mouth he started laughting like crazy ...

My poor mother in law didn't want to upset me and she refused to give me her plate and she had them ALL !!!!

At least she didn't ask for the recipe...

Joined Nov 21, 2001
i really shouldn't be laughing at these posts. as yesterday i was just htinking about stupid mistakes when i realized that the fresh pot of coffee i had just brewed was really tea. seems my significant other had thrown a package of loose leaf(unlabeled) up next to the coffee. i couldn't figure out why my coffee didn't smell right until i poured a cup. :p oh, well i threw the rest into the gingersnaps i was making and they're probably some of the best i've made yet!!! ;)
Joined May 1, 2001
In my experience, bread in a broiler or salamander has two states: raw and charred. It goes from the first to the second the instant your attention wanders.:mad:
Joined Oct 15, 2000
I've posted this before so let's just say it involved throwing a large quantity of bourbon on a very hot flat-top to "show off a bit" for the customers.(open kitchen) Needless to say, it took awhile for my eyebrows, moustache, etc to grow back. As for the customers, I believe "terrified" would be the correct term to use. :eek:
Joined Jan 26, 2001
Standing next to the opening oven door. You should see my scar.

And yes, Virginia, skin does in fact bubble when you get a third degree burn.

Of course, the burn also killed the nerves, so it didn't start hurting for a week.

Bad combo- hot things and an absentminded chef....

Joined Mar 9, 2000
Never order flambe' from a Maitre'D with no eye brows;)

One of our broiler cooks tossed an entire bottle of lighter fluid on the mesquite one day. It took a while for facial hair to grow back, he looked like he had a really bad sunburn for weeks. Of course the joke was that his cooking was measured on the Scoville scale.
Joined Dec 16, 2001
okay, i can top it, all...beleive me almost nothing can top this,
okay, we have ovens with their own hood systems, like a combi, and im placing ducks in to render on convection, well something drew my attention away, you know busy friday night and im int the back of a show kitchen, running food to the line studs, so i basically walked away, well the battered digital oven ran on convection at four hundred, way too hot, and burned the ducks, no problem, except the hood systems all have an accompanying fire detection system, which isnt a problem , you know the alarm goes off and you shut the dam thing down, well there is a hitch , see im in a resort here, its late, almost ten oclock at night, and all three of our restaurants are full, with a wait, and the resorts three hundred rooms are sold out to full capacity, so now, as this dumn sh*t new guys sets off the smoke alarms, every guest must be evacuated fifty yards from the resort, and all gas shut off, mandatory visit from the fire department and police with their accompanying ambulances. well after the fireman go in and go over the system and talk witht the chefs and managers and explain what happen, everyone is free to go back in and recook all the now free food for the twoo hundred pissed off free wine drinking diners, the chef was impressed with my work ethic and decided to let me live and keep my job...i wont tell what i had to do to keep it but the chefs and all told everyone that dust in the elevator shaft set off the alarm . that was two years ago, everyone that worked in the resort has gone, i remain, and in the time i have been there, i have never ever agin, burnt a single thing.
Joined Mar 9, 2000
I know the smoke problems, at the Hyatt we had a ventilation shaft leak and whenever we smoked chicken in the mesquite broiler the hotel fire alarm would go off and the fire dept would come. We finaly got it fixed but I suggested to the GM at the time that we should take a pic with the fire dept and run an ad for Hyatt's famous "5 Alarm Chicken". Well,......I thought it was funny....:rolleyes:
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