We all mess up in the kitchen, whether professionally, or simply at home. Hopefully, if you’re a professional chef, these mistakes are extremely rare, and well, you feel pretty bad for making them – not to mention the eternal ribbing you get from your chef buddies. They won’t let you forget it, no way.
Well spare a though for these poor Dutch chefs, who have committed some of the most epic fails in the kitchen we’ve come across – the tomato soup fail is a classic – as told to Munchies. Puts things into perspective doesn’t it? Head on over to Munchies to read more – when you’ve stopped laughing.
“I came into the restaurant on Sunday and the kitchen smelled like burnt bodies. I can’t describe it any other way. We always rush to close on a Saturday night so we can all have a beer together. That previous Saturday night, we started to make meat stock, which has to simmer on low heat throughout the night. But my co-worker forgot to turn the flame down, so all the liquid had evaporated and the bones were all sticking together at the bottom of the pot. I was so glad the place hadn’t burned down, but definitely punished the guy who was responsible by making him clean out the pot" – Jonathan Karpathios (Vork en Mes)
“When I first started working in a restaurant, I worked at the dessert station. One evening, we served lemon sorbet with merengue. The merengue needs to be caramelized. I spent the whole night caramelizing with salt instead of sugar, making our sweet desserts savory. I have to add that I had very little experience working in a kitchen, so I didn’t notice that caramelizing with salt wasn’t really working. One of the members of our wait staff told me that the merengue looked a bit funny. When she found out what had gone wrong, she couldn’t stop laughing. I was so embarrassed. Not one guest had complained. Perhaps I invented salted caramel that night” – Gina Verheij (Toscanini)
“We also messed up once while doing a catering job for one of the biggest banks in the Netherlands. We had to make raw juices and one of my co-workers dropped three buckets full of raw beet juice—about 8 gallons of it—on the floor in the lobby of this really fancy building. Every guest had to enter through that space and it looked like we had slaughtered a cow in there. The marble floors, the doors, the ceiling—everything was covered in red juice” – Jonathan Karpathios (Vork en Mes)
“We ran out of bordelaise (a demi-glace based sauce with bone marrow) and I figured I’d quickly make some more. Below the oven, there is a small freezer where we kept the bone marrow in a black plastic container. I grabbed the container, took a handful of marrow and thought I had put the container back in the freezer, but put it in the oven instead. After four minutes, my chef and I looked at each other and wrinkled our noses. What was that smell? When I opened the oven, the trays were covered in black, sticky threads. We put the four trays in the dishwasher, cleaned out the oven, put spare trays in and got back to work as quickly as we could" – Joaquin van der Vliet (Rose’s Cantina)
“A co-worker had just made 16 gallons of fresh tomato soup. After it had cooled down a bit, he wanted to put the pot in the walk-in fridge, but lost his grip and dropped it. Tomato soup covered the ceiling, the walls, and the door. Everything that had been white before was now red. It was hilarious to everyone present in the kitchen at that time, but a lot less funny for the people who had to clean it up”– Lennart De Kruif (Brasserie St. Jan in Sluis)
“I worked in a restaurant in Amstelveen. The final job of the night was cleaning out the fryers. It involved opening a small faucet, which allowed the grease to drain out of the fryers and into the receptacle underneath. Then you closed the faucet and filled the fryers with water and baking soda. After turning them on, they basically clean themselves. One night it was my turn, but I had forgotten to shut the little faucet, and the water and baking soda came in contact with the old grease. Hot oil, water, and baking soda work beautifully together: within minutes the kitchen was filled with a thick layer of greasy foam. I’m not sure how it all works, chemically speaking, but this stuff came up to my ankles and once it starts going, it doesn’t stop. At 1 o’clock in the morning, I had to clean the entire kitchen" Joaquin van der Vliet (Rose’s Cantina)
“I have also seen a co-worker give a group of people 21 panna cottas with mayonnaise instead of crème anglaise ... One person said they didn’t really understand the dish they just ate, but all of the others happily answered that their dessert had been delicious. Gross!” – Joaquin van der Vliet (Rose’s Cantina)
These are tough times for chefs and restaurant professionals around the world, but there has never been a better time to seek advice and help around a number of topics affecting hospitality workers. Here's a round-up of some of the most useful resources for chefs.