Your worst nightmare....

1
1
Joined Jul 4, 2018
When I was coming up through the ranks I had the very common experience of working for a real nightmare of a chef. The guy was an excellent chef, and actually pretty fun to hang out with when he was sober. But, he really put me through the paces. On one night I was learning how to flip something in a saute pan, and this guy made me toast a piece of bread, put it in a small saute pan, and walk up and down the line flipping the toast over and over. I had to do it a hundred times before I was allowed to clean up and go home.

Anybody else have some wild learning experiences?

------------------
Best Regards,
 
5,486
927
Joined Oct 10, 2005
Yeah, salt.

I had just started a 3 year apprenticeship in a 400 yr old hotel in Lucerne. First year apprentices had to “dry the salt”. Chef would buy these 50 kg bags of salt, but it was wet, almost the consistency of sand at the beach edge. We would have e to scoop the sand into roasting pans, dry the salt out in a low oven over night, then break up the cake into chunks. The chunks were then ground down in the vegetable mill attachment of the huuuge floor mixer.

Me, being a Canuck and foreigner, questioned the practice. I tried logic with the Chef, who was 3 years away from retirement. I told him the weight loss was almost 10% when you factored in the water loss, what stuck to the bottom of the pans, and what got spilled on the floor. Then I gave him the price for 1kg pkg. at the Migros, a large retail grocery chain in Switzerland which was almost 5 cents per kg cheaper than what he was buying the bulk stuff for.

The old( deleted) told me to never question him again, but he also stopped buying those stupid 50 kg bags of wet salt though....
 
658
276
Joined Sep 26, 2017
I didn't know you're supposed to dry the salt until just now.

The sel gris I have is super wet and always frustrated me with every use.
 
2,238
515
Joined Feb 17, 2010
The guy I worked for in LA doing movie catering was a huge ball buster, a perfectionist, he demanded very high standards from everyone, especially me. He showed up everyday at lunchtime unannounced on one of five trucks to check EVERYTHING. We did white tablecloth tables with fresh flowers, food on china. He would criticize flowers that needed a bit more water or if he couldn't fault anything with the food, would go back out and look for fingerprints on the s&p shakers. We had a few nock down drag out fights over the years, with a chair throwing episode in the office one night after I worked an 18 hr day.

He was also a very generous person. Rented a big house every year for all the employees and family in Lake Tahoe for two weeks during our Christmas break. Took us out singularly and as a group for great meals in LA. Birthday present, something nice. One year I got an Omega Seamaster watch.
He leaned on me for the more difficult jobs, I appreciated his confidence in me. I was offered a profit sharing opportunity with a small buy in just to make sure I wa onboard, principal fully returned in four years, profit sharing was about $2500 month.

He was a nightmare to work, but instilled a lot of good habits in me, we remain friends to this day. I was in LA a couple years ago, he invited me to stay at his place for a couple nights to save on hotels, took me out for Good Sushi in Malibu and to go out on set where his son was cooking and is now one of the chefs. Lots of memories.
I still hear him in the back of my head on occasion when I'm taking a shortcut.
 
2
0
Joined Jul 6, 2018
Not so much a wild experience, but when I was younger learning any of the quirks or neurotic tendancies of a new head chef could lead to some heated one way exchanges. You just have no idea what can make one professional to the next off the handle. Now I’m the crazy chef with crazy triggers. Lol
 
3,213
658
Joined May 5, 2010
I was a banquet Chef in DC and was prepping for a large one, one afternoon. There were pots and saute pans going, people prepping , and the usual controlled chaos, when all of a sudden the power went out for 12 seconds. That was enough for the heat from the various pans to set off....you guessed it, the Ansul System. Oily foam everywhere. All over the pans, the pots, the stove, the floor....every where.
SIGH!

Somehow someway, as I recollect, we pulled the evening off with a little help from friends at other accounts.
 
2,454
738
Joined Feb 8, 2009
I had a Food Service Management Company and Catering Company. I was in the process of doing a Demo Wok entree on my buffet for a group of my clients at a local hotel. There were about 40 people at the function. The banquet room had high ceilings so I wasn't really worried about setting off alarms. Needless to say a plume of steam shot up from the Wok and set off the fire alarm just as my clients are going through the line. It didn't bother my clients at all. they just kept on coming through the buffet like nothing happened. In about five minutes the Fire Dept in full gear come walking through the tables looking at my clients wondering why no one is leaving. The Hotel is evacuating all the hotel guests and everyone is standing in the parking lot. At this point my clients are coming back through the line for more food. I'm getting dirty looks from the fire chief, the hotel manager and the rest of the fire dept. The Manager came over to me and said " The Fire Chief would like to speak to you in the lobby" so I followed him out. The Fire chief looked at me and said, don't ever do that again.
I asked my clients after the function was over if they were mad about the fire alarm going off. Their answer was " Not at all it was fun and broke the ice" The food was great. Needless to say what could have been a disaster turned out great. I never did another function at that hotel again........ChefBillyB
 
2,238
515
Joined Feb 17, 2010
I was a banquet Chef in DC and was prepping for a large one, one afternoon. There were pots and saute pans going, people prepping , and the usual controlled chaos, when all of a sudden the power went out for 12 seconds. That was enough for the heat from the various pans to set off....you guessed it, the Ansul System. Oily foam everywhere. All over the pans, the pots, the stove, the floor....every where.
SIGH!

Somehow someway, as I recollect, we pulled the evening off with a little help from friends at other accounts.

That reminds me of a similar thing. We were prepping for a banquet for around 200, we had separate kitchens, upstairs for the restaurant, downstairs all banquet rooms for around 450. The hood had been serviced overnight, everything was on, steamer, kettle, 8' hot top, 4' broiler, four stacked convections. I was cutting steaks, there was all kinds of stuff out in various areas, prep guy was making about 800 rolls for the day. The caps start popping off then about ten seconds later powder shooting out of the nozzles.
Turns out the service was guy put a lower temp fusible links in the ansul system. Everything a total loss not to mention the cleanup. We did manage to get the dinner out.
 
53
16
Joined May 13, 2017
probably when i did my internship i got thrown onto the grill when i suck at cooking steaks. ontop of that my mentor didn't even help me he just stood their watching me and after my first order my steak was overcooked so i got my butt chewed out. not fun getting your butt chewed out on the first day of work especially when your inexperienced on a certain station when cooking certain foods.

that restaurant i worked for wasn't really pleasing in general. always got yelled at for the dumbest things when i tried to help.
 
2,145
630
Joined Oct 31, 2012
There have been so many nightmares I'm having trouble choosing just one.
I never had an Ansul system go off but I have put out several kitchen fires.
The first time I was working the line in a small bar/restaurant and right in the middle of service the ancient broiler/salamander lit up like an inferno in the tiny kitchen, blowing flame and smoke like we were in a movie. Thank God there were two large fire extinguishers right at hand. I emptied both before getting the fire out. We did a fast clean up and went back at it, minus the broiled items. The customers never knew but the owner finally replaced the broiler.
After that, every place I work I make sure to know where the fire extinguishers are, even if I'm not working the line.
 
3,152
1,022
Joined Jul 13, 2012
Wow - this jogs the memory and not all pleasant ones either. I co-managed a BBQ joint in Detroit in the early 70's. The owner was a very bad businessman who eventually took the money and ran, but got caught and did a stretch. I had cashiers making change for mimeograph $10 bills, a souse who was a junky and would lock himself in the bathroom, shoot up and nod off, an ex con who did a stretch for passing counterfeit money, a delivery guy who shot a kid who tried to rob him with a BB gun . . . I could go on, but . . . the horror . . . the horror.
 
Top Bottom