A good night’s service depends on the right flow. With so many moving parts, from supply, to prep, to staff in place, mise en place… there’s a lot to manage to make sure every plates hits the pass at the right time and at the right temperature.
So there are some things that that interrupt the flow of the shift. Orders that are off the menu, or changes that can mean a chef has to change his whole way of doing things. Chefs are multitasking so even a small disruption can have a knock-on effect. Some dishes are pretty straight forward to make for a chef, and some are just a pain. We trawled some Reddit threads to find out exactly which dishes chefs hate to make the most.
If you’ve ever had to shuck oysters in a kitchen then you know what a challenge it can be. Repetitive, difficult and dangerous. They can’t be done in advance so it’s a wonder they’re ever on the menu at all. This poster recalls his oyster hell:
“Oysters. Place I used to work at offered 50 cent oysters on the half shell, or all you can eat for $30. I can still hear the chit machine printing my hell. Shuck one dozen, shuck 3 dozen, shuck 12 dozen. I used to collect the tiny oyster crabs each shift, and me and the other cooks would each pick one, and race them to see who was buying the first round each night.”
Chefs have feelings too. That’s right, it’s all very well cooking something that’s already been killed but when you have to cook it live and kill it yourself, it’s another things entirely.
“I used to hate cooking fresh lobsters at Red Lobster. I would have to get it out of the tank and stab it in its fucking neck, rip its stomach open, and cook it. Which by the way, It gets cooked in a microwave on steroids, unless you order it grilled.”
Hot sugar, is dangerous, and if you have to run across a busy kitchen with a pot full of lava, it’s an accident waiting to happen,
“Sugar work. I actually really like sugar work in a quiet empty setting but this never exists in a commercial kitchen. I guess I wasn't so passionate to do much in my home kitchen so my experience was always dangerous and crazed… Sugar burns are terrible. Grabs onto your skin and sticks… Worked at a James Beard award winning restaurant. I have indented scars on my arms and hands; I still miss it.”
“Liquid sugar is basically napalm,” is about right.
As a customer, you might not think that ordering a cheeseboard is going to rile the chef, but there are so many little bits and pieces that don’t get used in anything else and they have to be lovingly arranged
“Nothing is more annoying than having to get a cheeseboard out in the middle of a busy service,” writes one poster.
“If you work in a cocktail bar and that's really all you do, I'd imagine it's tolerable. But if you have 20-25 items on your menu, and your charcuterie board has 8-10 cheeses and 6-10 meats it takes too much valuable time to prepare each board. Times that by 20/30 boards a night, plus preparing other meals, and timing the food perfectly during dinner rush is a mess."
"And I'm with you; if I'm out to eat and I see charcuterie on the menu, probably 85% chance I'm ordering it. They're almost always really tasty and most places have great product on the plates. But preparing them is a hassle.”
The problem with quesadillas is all the different ingredients, all prepared at the same time.
“When I was a cook I used to hate making quesadillas. We made them in skillets and I only had 6 burners to cook everything in my part of the kitchen with. When groups would come in and order 4 quesos and some other dishes and I would get yelled at because I took longer than the 15 minute window we were given drove me mad sometimes. Yes they are easy to make. Just they take up to much space and cause a back up of tickets when they come in bunches.”
Think of the poor catering chefs preparing for huge events and parties. Everything they do is at scale, even the really annoying stuff.
“I'm a catering cook and we have a number of things that are rather annoying. Any sort of passed "puff", because pâte á choux is a pain in the ass. Squeezing 500 dabs of it genuinely hurts. Roasted veg. 15 hotels pans of raw veg just gets boring to make. Fruit displays. They take a while to prep, and no one eats them. Prosciutto wrapped blue cheese filled dates. Yes, they are delicious, but I have to make 400 for your 200 guests and a lot of people don't eat dates or blue cheese. Anything skewered. Again, a lot of labor. I'm sick of spring mix, goat cheese, apple, cider vin salads. Can we get a new trend?
A simple sandwich that can mess with a chef’s head.
“Po' Boys. Any time they get put on the menu, i prayed no one would order it. It takes up both halves of the fryer, buttermilk gets everywhere, the buns had to steal space from Kitchen 2 on the flat top, and it all had to be assembled on time (and if you had to make anything else for the same order!).
They take a lots of little tiny ingridients i have to go all around the kitchen to get and arange in a pleasing way, and because its not a high seller Its not feasable to prep them.
Well Done Steak
For a lot of chefs, cooking a steak until it is burned is sacrilege.
Well done steaks. Please if you are going to make me ruin a nice cut of meat don't complain about it. You asked for it to be cremated. Just order chicken! Or even eat a car tyre, that's probably got better texture to it than a well done steak. Also a complaint when the food isn't ready in 5 minutes because you wanted the steak well done.. idiots!
Everyone can relate to the headaches caused by cleaning, peeling and cooking shrimp.
“I hate cooking anything with shrimp. After cleaning hundreds of pounds of shrimp over my cooking career, the smell of shrimp makes me cringe. It's hard to clean shrimp with gloves, so I used my bare hands. The smell stuck to my hands.”
Such a popular food, nachos can throw a spanner in the works for a chef.
“Honestly as simple as it sounds, nachos. When it's Saturday night, you have 40 tickets containing 150 different meals, stopping and taking the time to put together a plate of nachos just screws up the whole rhythm.”