Your worst mistake, and what it taught you

Joined Aug 23, 2000
To this non-chef, from reading these message boards, it seems that becoming an excellent chef requires, partly, trial by fire.

What was the worst mistake you ever made on the job, and how did you learn from it to make yourself a better, stronger chef?
Joined Aug 8, 2000
I learned a lot of little things, really.
1) Do not go racing around the corner w/o checking to see if the oven door is up. Oww!
2) Don't assume a sheet pan is cool.
3) If 500 degree mashed potatoes are sticking to you leg, attend to that first over your turkey pie.
4) If you don't want your fellow culinary students to keep stealing your clarified butter, label it *yellow lipids* instead.
Joined Jul 18, 2000
i think one of the hardest things to learn is how to organise others. It is one thing to be given the gift of both common sense and organisation and another to pass it on.
Joined Aug 11, 2000
Really checking the list before doing offsite
catering....Especially things that can't be bought at a gas station.
Trusting your intution....whenever I've done an override it's not turned out for the better.
Knowing my limit and not going over....stress is an ugly thing.
Joined Mar 9, 2000
I think my worst mistake early on was to develop an attitude because I had some natural skills. After eating humble pie after a number of "ball droppings" I started to grow up.

There are a number of chefs with pretty big attitudes, some are perfectionists and treat their people very poorly, I believe the lives and well being of people are more important than food, even though there is a job to be done and at time individuals need to be corrected, disciplined,and trained people deserve to be treated with dignity and if one has natural talents or abilities a prima donna attitude needs to be agressively resisted. What Jesus said about treating others like you would want to be treated is the best rule of thumb.

[This message has been edited by chefjohnpaul (edited August 31, 2000).]


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Joined Oct 5, 2001
I can agree with that Chef Tiss. My biggest mistake was always thinking the grass was greener on the other side. Always going for a better place, better money only to be disappointed that I left. It has taught me to way the pro's and con's a lot more, and not to make my decision based on emotion.
Joined Jul 28, 1999
My Biggest mistake, was making things harder on my self then they really are as well has going in with a closed mind thinking that nobody else's opnion matterd but mine. But that comes with learing the ropes. And I learned really fast, that is something you dont do.
Joined Aug 27, 2000
I agree with the others here. Learning to be a good supervisor and trainer is the hardest. I did a lot of yelling when I was younger. Not any more. It doesn't solve the problem and makes you look like an *** . I had a cook start a fire one night and never even raised my voice. He learned more from that experience on his own than I ever could have accomplished by yelling and berating him.


Joined Aug 31, 2017
learning not to mouth off at my superiors even though they stuffed up learn't to keep my mouth shut and make em pay knowing your sections setup your dish went out ona hot plate
he asked you had he asked you knew top shelf left side behind the mustard knowledge became power became respect.
Joined Feb 8, 2015
You guys all sound so politically correct. I thought this thread was about your worst mistake and as chefs we all make them. It's not a thread about who or what you want to be or achieve. I'm sure some of you guys have disaster stories working in a restaurant. I'll start.

A fun/crazy one for me was working at a fine dining restaurant. We were doing a catering event, we had our own catering van with the restaurant logo. Were almost finished loading up going back and forth to the restaurant to the van. There is a methodone clinic 2 blocks away from the restaurant. We are bringing out the last box to load and see our van skidding out of the parking lot with back doors open and all our food all over the road! How do you explain that one to dinner party of fifty that was expecting it in 30 minutes.

There was my restaurant getting raided by the US Marshals in St. Thomas during dinner service to extradite my dishwaher on murder and armed robbery charges.

There was my only produce guy when I was cooking on a small island in the South Pacific that disappeared courtesy of the Chinese mafia and had to drive around an hour or two every morning from farm to farm buying what ever decided to pop out of the ground that day

As for my biggest mistake, on a 10 million dollar yacht, working crazy hours really tired and wanted to finish this chicken stock, it was late and also drinking rum, woke up to smoke and fire alarms, stock burnt to a crisp, everyone thinking the boats on fire. It stunk for 2 days and lots of apologies. Should of, could of, been fired

A chefs life is never normal and we all make mistakes, some bigger than others


Joined Aug 31, 2017
man i can't beat that.
never checked my dessert fridge properly when i was an apprentice i was there last night.
i know whats there etc etc

busy friday night desserts up got a peach anglise couldn't work out why plates keep returning,
keep comming back....hhhmmm
anglaise is fresh everything is good or was it.....
swapped with crab batter (same bottle looked the same and same everything bar the taste.

that day i learnt check your f***ing fridge
Joined Oct 31, 2012
My worst mistake? Wow, there have been so many. Here's one.
While making a large pot of gumbo for a local tavern as a temporary promotion, too much cayenne pepper (a very large clump) fell out of the bag and into the pot but as the gumbo was almost finished, the pepper stayed on the surface. My friend was helping me out at the time. He saw it and pointed it out. Rather than fish out as much as I could, I shrugged and stirred it in. Hottest gumbo on the planet. Delicious but searing hot. Even had two good old boys from Louisiana struggle to eat a full bowl.
Coulda, shoulda, woulda taken out the cayenne.
Joined Aug 15, 2003
17 year old thread lol. This thread predates 9/11...high school kids were born after this thread started.
Joined Aug 15, 2003
LOL, how did this even start back up?
Well, I keep saying it, but they really should lock all threads that haven't had new responses in, say, 5 years so that this stops happening. It happens quite a bit, old threads get dug up and replied to witch no hope of the OP or anyone else in the thread responding.

They would still be searchable (I assume) so that people can still gain info and read them, so advice/recipes/etc aren't lost, you just won't be able to bump a 17 year old thread to the top of the forum.

Anyways, maybe it's harder than I think to do or something, I dunno.
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