worst kitchen-related injury?

Joined Oct 19, 2001
The 'worst kitchen mistake' thread got me thinking...

My worst happened when I was waiting tables. We were so far in the weeds it was unbelievable, one busser and one dishwasher had quit, and the food scraper was nowhere to be found. Dishes were piling up, even being stacked on the floor, someone spilled a ramekin of the oil-based salad dressing on the floor and didn't bother to clean it up...

And I come tearing in with a tray full of dirties, looking for the expo or a manager to tell them that table 213 still thought their steak was too raw, after being fired twice, slipped on the oil, stumbled, stepped on a plate, and went down in a pile of dishes, olive oil, and leftover food. Knocked my head on the grimy floor and was knocked unconscious.

Apparently, when I came to, the first words out of my mouth were, "is the steak still raw?"
Joined Mar 9, 2000
The worst injury I had heard of didn't happen to me, a colegue of mine had a second job at a COCO'S restaurant and told me about an incident that happened one night when someone forgot to turn off the deep fryers. The hood guy slipped and went in with both feet half way up the calves.:eek:

He was out of work for about 2 years and received about $500,000 on a settlement. They had to peel his sneakers off. A lot of people take for granted how dangerous a place the kitchen is.

Another colegue knew a baker who had his arm snapped by a HOBART mixer because he was trying to scrape while it was running. We have got to respect the equipment!
Joined Nov 21, 2001
the worst kitchen injury?.... hmm, could that be the time the fry cleaning machine hose slipped and poured 350 degree grease into my work boot? or the time the 1/2 sheet pan filled with hot bacon grease and in an inconviently placed single door convection oven slipped and covered my forearms with a few small burns? or all the cuts from slicers that owners were too cheap to maintain properly and were missing parts. needless to say they were always fixed after the fact. oh, the joys of the kitchen that they don't tell you about in college. ;) it's no wonder i needed to retire for a while :smiles:
Joined Nov 29, 2001
When my husband, Zombiechef, and I had a small takeout restaurant, we were the only staff. If one of us was sick, 50% of the workforce was gone.

One afternoon he felt ill, so he went home. It was near the end of our lunch business so I felt confident I could handle whatever orders materialized. An unexpected rush occurred and I had pans all over the stove.

I grabbed a pan to do a special, but little did I know the handle had been hovering over a lit burner. The handle was blazing hot. I held the pan out and opened my hand. The handle was stuck to my hand.

I wound up and thrust my hand down, and the pan finally clattered to the floor. I tried to open my hand, but the skin was "cooked" into place and I could only get it open part way. I grabbed a piece of ice and held it in the burned hand while finishing the order.

Later that afternoon, Zombie came in and doctored my torched hand. He put burn salve on it, bandaged it and rubber gloved it for me. Before long, I was able to open my hand all the way and the burn healed quickly. I'll never forget the sight of my open hand with the pan handle stuck to it!


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
I think all of us have experienced the hot handle. Funny thing is, we never really learn :) I've done it at least twice. I poked myself with an oyster knife once and it resulted in my hand swelling up for two days. THAT was stupid because we were in an oyster shucking contest.

Joined Sep 21, 2001
Chiffonade, I feel your pain. My worst accident (knock on wood) was on a busy saute night. I was in a hurry, and put too much clarified butter in the bottom of the pan. Then I got distracted for a minute, with the pan getting hot. The butter wasn't smoking, but VERY thin from being so hot. I threw in my fish, and the butter slopped over my forearm. I had my towel right there, and instinctively wiped the hot butter off my arm, taking 2 large chunks of skin with it. This was in the middle ofthe rush, so leaving (at least in my opinion) was out of the question. So, the one thing about this restaurant was their comprehensive collection of not-over-the-counter burn sprays. I don't remember the name of the spray I used, but it made the wound feel like I was icing it. I wrapped a towel around the wound, and finished out the shift.

Please, no digit-in-the-glass-of-milk stories, They make me queazy!
Joined Jul 24, 2001
Ok this thread is dreadfull.

Why do you want to remember those things?

BTW Does your insurance covers you?

According to the legislation , is the boss responsible for every accident that happens in the kitchen or not?
Is there a special law that covers accidents in the professional kitchens.
In Greece we do have the Law but we lack the professional kitchens...
Joined Nov 21, 2001
sometimes the restaurants insurance (workman's comp) covers you and then there are the occasions where you are.... let's say, contracting out your services for financial gain and your own health insurance covers the damage.
afra, i'm sorry but there are a lot of bosses out there like yours - hopefully you'll find a good one - or start your own business and then you can be your own boss. :)
Joined Nov 20, 2000
Afra I really don't like to generalize but sometimes you can't help it. There are great people and jerks everywhere you go, but it has been my experience that the chain restaurant/fast food manager is a breed on their own. Granted it is borne oft times from some of the employees they have to deal with (present company excluded) but this type of restaurant is pretty low down on the food chain and attracts a lot of people who just need a job, don't care about anyone, or anything including themselves. They can be a miserable lot. They don't show up, they show up late, they don't care about the product or the customers. They're dirty untrained, unwilling to learn but still the show must go on and ultimately it gets heaped on the managers shoulders who gets or doesn't get a performance bonus, who then gets to hear it from their GM when they don't hit their bonus who gets it from the territory VP who doesn't hit his bonus etc., etc., etc. You know what they say $^$%# flows downhill. There are of course people like you but there aren't enough of you to change things much. It's a grin and bear it situation until you get out. Just deal with it and learn all you can about what NOT to do!

BTW Katbalou I love your Avatar The Tick!


Joined Nov 24, 2000
Well I just broke my wrist about three months ago.It was the first time in years I slipped and fell on a floor so I guess the odds played out.
I think one of the worst things I ever saw happen was a friend trip with a pot of hot fryer oil and have it come down on his head.The best part was that his long hair prevented any permanet scars.


Founder of Cheftalk.com
Staff member
Joined Oct 5, 2001
Oh isn't this thread one all of us can relate to in one way or another? It just goes to show you how dangerous this job is and that the long hours are hard work can impair your judgement. Ok the worst I ever heard was my cousin who was working over the large stock pot at our uncle's restaurant. He was taking out beef juice and putting it into 5 gallon buckets for beef sandwhiches. He had buckets all around him and as he was lifting the one he was working on down he thought he was stepping over the buckets instead he stepped into a bucket. When all was said and done he had skin graphs on his ankle and over 250 stappels in his foot. I saw his foot later after the stapels had been removed and it looked like ground hamburger.

To all cooks, take your time and be safe.
Joined Apr 19, 2001
To quote my friend Steve Erwin - a la the croc hunter!

Any groupie out there who thinks working in a pro kitchen is 'glamorous' ought to read this thread! :eek:
Joined May 26, 2001
Because, dear Athenaeus, as Chef Bourdain has pointed out, we all have to prove how tough and macho we are (girls included). It's a badge of honor, to prove that we're serious about putting up with the horrible, dangerous conditions for our "art." Am I embarrassed to admit it? You bet. But there it is.

Also, believe me, once you tell other people about having stuck your hand into the buffalo chopper before the blade stopped (boy, was I lucky on that one -- only needed 7 stitches instead of losing a thumb!), the story becomes a cautionary tale and neither you nor your listeners will ever do anything that idiotic again. The point that Nicko makes is dead on: take your time, be safe. And try to learn from others' mistakes.
Joined Oct 13, 2001
Hey folks , I remember 2 bad accidents that realy stand out in my mind to this day . I had just taken a job as chef at a country club
out in the boonies and the kitchen was on propane gas . My a.m.
cook came to work and the old wolf oven was broke and needed to be lit manually . He turned the oven on to 400 and then discovered he did not have a match so he went looking for one .
15 minutes later after finding matches at the bar ( and what else I wont comment on ) he returned to lite the oven . Well the bang that followed took all of his hair and he was lucky not to be blinded for life . My kitchen was closed for 2 weeks and the club did a total remodel but man always remember safety first .
The other accident was a FOH waitress who was reaching for the aluminum foil which was on a shelf about 2 feet over her head . When she pulled the foil to cut her piece the whole thing came down and the cutter just about severed her thumb . Remember folks always be safe . Of course thats just my opinion.........
Joined Aug 10, 2001
Well...this thread makes my injury sound petty, and unimportant, but when I fist started out (im still in my first year) I had bad posture with my guiding hand, and I lost half of my fingernail (and some useful flesh with it) on my forefinger. I now have no scar, and it didnt even hurt (the knife was sharp) but Now I have good posture, and I take alot more time doing things with a sharp knife. I fell lucky never to have witnessed anything like this, but the most numb skull thing I ever heard of is this guy putting a lime (whole) in a deepfryer for fun...needless to say there was a huge "pop"and hot grease everywhere. The most boneheaded thing about it was that he didnt even lose his job!
Joined Oct 15, 2000
I tell this to new kids over and over. Kitchen accidents happen because you're not paying attention. Yes, I've hurt myself in the past and will do so in the future. but it will be because I'm not paying attention. Accidents in the kitchen make me mad because they can easily be prevented. PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU ARE DOING!!!!!!!
Joined Mar 9, 2000
Paying attention is so important. Our executive steward used to have a poster, "China Doesn't Break, It Gets Broken". Watch what you're doing and be careful, the kitchen is a potentially hazardous enviornment.
Joined Jul 24, 2001
Suzanne you are hard on your self :)

It's the same in every profession.

I remember how proudly I was walking in the court district the first time my car was burnt by oponents in a case!! :p

I will put in my office this motto of the China that doesn't break but get's broken. It's very wise.
Joined Sep 28, 2001
I myself have had numerous stiches and burns, mostly minor.

The two most memorable are the one time I got 3rd degree burns from the fryer. I was wiping down around them when the heat lamp slipped into it. I almost caught it before it hit, but when it did my hand was close enough that the grease splashed on it. When I wiped it of quickly on my apron the skin and a good amount of flesh came with.

The other is another oven story. I had several prime rib in my ovens. When I checked them most were about half done, with the exception of the ones in the oven that wasn't lit. I turned off the dial and called out for a lighter to do the pilot. Most ovens have a safety that turns off the gas when the pilot is out so I didn't think twice. When I lit it a ball of flame engulfed me. The cook standing to the side off me said it went out past me about 4 ft. I luckily managed to put my arm up over my face and recieved only a couple of minor burns on my face, but I lost my lashes, eye brows, and a good amout of my hair.:eek: :eek:

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