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Tales from the Crypt


Karri
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Premise:

A 23-year old young man excited for the first day of practicals in a 4*-hotel that shall not be named, in a city that shall not be named, in a country that shall not be named, on a continent that shall not be named, but for interests sake I'll give you a hint. It ends in frica.

After entering through the staff entrance with the waste room next to the receiving area, the walls covered in a bit of dirt, everything looking a little bit worse for wear...

Enter the bar, front-of-house looking quite nice, dark woods, dark iron pillars, high-back chairs. Very classy, but not overly 'cigar-lounge' feel. Staff all dressed in uniform going about their business, Bar Manager in a suit and tie comes to greet. Shows the way in to the back-of-house, the scullery and storage area. The door green on one side, the paint peeled off on the other.

First day of work is to be spent getting to know the cold and dry stores, how to make special coffees, going through the different wines, all seems well.

Shocker: Open the first lowboy, cutscene from a pirate movie, thinking that the scene is either of a hip-height refridgerator or a pirate's cave... Moss or a substance that mimics moss growing on the ceiling, the walls, the floor. Schweppes tonic cans, freshly restocked, shining at the young man like gold dubloons from a pirates cache... Wire rack too wide to properly store small cans, what used to be cardboard placed on wire rack. Consider carbon dating, might find the missing link in human evolution.

Closing the lowboy, young man thinking it's not so bad. First tray of glasses comes in, pack it in the plastic crate, open the dishwasher...

The young man almost drops the crate as he is greeted yet again by possibly the most authentic replica of an ocean vista. What is inside the machine is what looks like seaweed, perhaps the workings of a druid or sage who has grown tired of the machine revolution. The seaweed is growing from the nozzles on the ceiling, the ceiling, the walls; it seems to be growing out of the filter that can barely be seen through the brownish, black water.

Polite inquiry to Bar Manager about the date the water was last changed, response: enquiry about the need to change water, answer 4 months ago when the machine underwent routine maintenance. The young man takes his time, building courage, preparing himself for what is to come next, rolls up his sleeves, removes the plug and the filter from the machine -filter full of cocktail sticks- about to throw sticks away, when employee loudly questions young man's actions. Sidenote: "In an attempt to save the environment, the cocktail sticks shall soforth be recycled until no longer presentable". Young man, abashed, places sticks in employees hand, employee places sticks in bar. Young man sarcastically enquires about straws and garnish: Answer: "Straws are only given if you ask for one, fruit from drinks that are clear, such as gin&tonic, are to be re-used, other garnish is to be thrown away."

Young man rushes back in to the battle with the machine whose only interest earlier had been to wash glasses. Water draining slowly, young man removes rinsers and starts to unscrew the nozzles, one nozzle full of peanuts and seaweed, second nozzle full of hair, third nozzle full of cigarette butts, fourth nozzle full of...

Bar Manager interrupts young man, thanks him for his initiative, tells him to put the machine back together -for if there were a malfunction, the young man would be liable to pay for repairs-. Before even starting to clean the young man is forced to abandon the battle and leave the machine in the hands of fate.

Rest of the day spent trying to systematically remove images from brain; attempts: unsuccesful.

... It doesn't get worse, it doesn't get much better... Please share yours. To quote some wise man "What has been seen, can never be unseen",

The perfect vichyssoise is served hot and made with equal parts of butter to potato.

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Doesnt keep me up at night but does bring chuckles under my breath: walking into the dry storage room late one night at the end of a long multiple RF'd shift only to find the sous chef being "serviced" by one of the service staff. Kind of an embarrassing moment for all involved.

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Hahaha, late night service!

Cockroaches are one thing that I can not stand. They give me the biggest creeps. One guy told me a story about a hotel restaurant he used to work in in a city that ends in "ondon", that every morning when they came in, the first guy had to give the lockers a hard bang, and then a torrent of those brown little monsters would stream out of the lockers and disappear in to the cracks in the walls. He said there were literally hundreds...

Was blanching about 3kg of green asparagus a few days ago, went to get the ice for refreshing, came back and started ladling the asparagus in to the water, found a cockroach. Needless to say 3kgs of spoiled very expensive asparagus in the bin.

The perfect vichyssoise is served hot and made with equal parts of butter to potato.

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How about finding half a lizard in a case of washed and graded spinach? It wasnt the better half if you know what I mean. I also just happened to turn around in time to witness a cook "toss their cookies" into a neatly dressed flip-top of mise, nape-ing the lot with a chunky coat of gravy. Almost had a Stand By Me moment.

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I always thought that type of shit was a joke... Holy shit that's disgusting, MacDonald's aside but that is horrible!

The perfect vichyssoise is served hot and made with equal parts of butter to potato.

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As for me. I would have left that place. If the booses couldn't care less why should we. When the hotel I worked took over a hotel in an island in asia. I was posted there to help take over and rebuild the restaurants. The main breakfast area had a large sign from the local health municipal that the place was very clean and so was the kitchen. One day we had to come in early as there was a group wanted early breakfast. the minute we walked in the kitchen, we some some mice running on the sauce and table. We immediately remove the sign and did major cleanup.

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I always thought that type of shit was a joke... Holy shit that's disgusting, MacDonald's aside but that is horrible!

No joke. of course the cook was sent home, all of the food was thrown away and we madly prepped new items for service. As for the washed and graded spinach, our sales rep picked up the contaminated case along with the scrumptious specimen to share with his buyers.

I've also been present at a restaurant when an inebriated female stepped into the kitchen and "Mardi Gras Style" flashed us her jubilees to show us what she thought of our food. Needless to say, the kitchen was useless for about 90 seconds. Everyone just stood there staring at the door where a half naked woman was standing just a second before.

Edited by Jeffery C (log)
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Premise...

This is a great idea for a thread, and I like the drama in this first post :biggrin: It's a field I know little about. I'll be reading along avidly.

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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maybe not up to the current standard, but as a teenager, when once making a cake, i cracked an egg into the bowl which turned out not to be an egg but a fully formed baby chicken carcass in shell :wacko:. i think the unexpectedness was worse than the grossness inherent in the situation...

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... Ah, but you must have at least one little story... :wink:

Ha ha ha. Commercial kitchens ? No, the sum of my experience is one or two nights (ETA: in 1982 or so) as stand-in dishwasher in a family-run regional hotel (which did have a good rep for its food), when my friend whose regular gig it was couldn't make it.

Edited by Blether (log)

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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turned out not to be an egg but a fully formed baby chicken carcass in shell :wacko:.

doesnt happen often with commercial eggs as they have systems to reject fertilized eggs. I see it more often from eggs from local farmers, although all it takes is to place an egg in front of a strong light source to see if anything "significant" blocks the light.

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Late '80s family run deli with multiple locations, product name Ham Salad.

The construction of ham salad took a feww weeks because it started with a pail of water in the bottom fridge under the deli showcase. Into this pail of water were thrown the "ends" of all pork based deli meats, when there was enough for a batch of ham salad the moldy meat at the top of the pile was trimmed up and the whole lot dumped into a Hobart buffalo chopper. This was mixed with fresh bread crumbs, mustard, mayo, relish, seasonings, and red food color...Voila Ham Salad.

I refused to make this item and the owners responce to my opinion that we were going to poison someone was to boil the old meat before making the salad, and then eat heapng piles of it on rye bread.

It was frustrating to be in culinary school and working for an "old deli guy" at the same time

tracey

The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

"It is the government's fault, they've eaten everything."

My Webpage

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it started with a pail of water in the bottom fridge under the deli showcase. Into this pail of water were thrown the "ends" of all pork based deli meats

right idea, wrong execution. although the preservatives used in his deli meats probably gave it the shelf life of a twinkie

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  • 2 weeks later...

I...

am become god.

In my hands I holdeth the power of choice... The choice betwixt life and death.

Every day we cook live lobsters and I am the one to pick them. My limited knowledge on the topic did not prepare me for this... game... this twisted game... To choose between who lives and who dies; the fools, do they not realize they are dead nevertheless?

I always pick at random, maybe the one easiest accessible, but when I am bringing the poor little crustacean out if he puts up a fight, kicks his tail around, then I let him live. For I am become a monster, I only wish to kill the ones who have already been broken, who already are dead. Spiritually they have nothing left to offer, this metamorphosis, this change in me I do not like, so I have come up with a plan.

To soothe my troubled mind I have began a series of faux legal actions, I am the judge of my very own kangaroo court, I frame the invertebrate of something and I sentence him to death by boiling.

For example: One of the lobsters was traveling through Yemen by train from Saudi Arabia to Qatar, the customs officials inspected his luggage and found 20 grams of hashish. This lobster's sentencing date is pending requirement.

This opens up the possibility of accusing other lobsters for the deaths of the previous ones, which would make all the previous ones I have killed in a way the fault of others...

But nothing helps, I am nauseated, I do not like to do it but I have to, for it is a part of my job. Who am I to choose who lives and who dies? What gives me the right, and always I project my own mixed emotions in to those bright black beady eyes and I see indefinite sorrow...

The perfect vichyssoise is served hot and made with equal parts of butter to potato.

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  • 8 months later...

While in college, I worked the front of the house in several famous restaurants in a city that ends with Orleans, and despite the name of the city, its actually a very old place, especially the french quarter. You could have a crew of exterminators on staff working 24/7 and you would still see cockroaches and mice/rats far more often than you should in an eatery. I understand hurricane Katrina kind of cleared out the problem, but back in my day there would be a mouse running through a busy dining room at least once a week, and if you were the last person in the place at night you were sure to make some "friends"

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I've seen a kitten sized rat or two in the basement of a former place of employ that had an old sewage drain underground behind it that ran directly down to the river about 4 blocks away. The rats would literally chew their way in through the concrete walls. One jumped out of the bread bin one night and landed with a resounding THUD and waddled away because it was so fat. :shudder: I let out such a blood curdling scream the lone bartender upstairs thought I'd encountered an axe murderer downstairs.

The mice were of normal size, but incredibly bold. They'd come out in the middle of lunch service and scamper through the dining room in broad daylight. I once had a customer tell the very flamboyant busboy about a little "friend" underneath a nearby table. He put his hands on his hips and said in his best outrageous tone, "Well you didn't FEED him, did you???" I was laughing so hard I couldn't fire him. It was just too funny. The look on those customers faces is one I shall never erase from my mind. :laugh:

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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I worked for a while in a barn that was converted into a giant restaurant in Stanley KS. The barn is gone now, replaced by million dollar + mansions, but back in the day it was farmland. It's amazing the amount of food pumped out of that kitchen. The exterminator came every two weeks just to try to keep the roaches under control. On exterminator day, we had to sweep them up every 10 minutes or so to keep them from piling up too much.

My other nightmare came on the night that I first watched Hell's Kitchen. I had a horrible dream that those morons were my kitchen staff.

That's the thing about opposum inerds, they's just as tasty the next day.

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I haven't worked in food service since I was in high school, more years ago than I care to remember, and about the worst thing I recall is ashes dropping off the cook's perpetual cigarette, which never left his clenched jaws, into whatever was on the grill or stove. He never flinched. I just didn't eat.

I was at a trade show at the Cobo Center in Detroit once, walking toward an entrance around the corner, and passed the loading dock to the concession/kitchen area. Out of the open loading dock door strolled a very fat four-legged creature that I first thought was a possum, because I've never seen a rat that big. I stopped dead still; I was between him and the street, with a park and the river on the other side of the street. Had he turned in my direction we would have seen if my swimming ability would've gotten me to Windsor, Ontario, because while there is not much in this world of which I'm afraid, a rat is the one thing that reduces me to abject terror.

Probably a good thing I don't work in the back of the house anywhere!

Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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I drove behind a restaurant in a strip center. The prep guy was chopping chicken on the back stoop next to the trash and grease dumpsters. NOT on a chopping board on a prep table but the actual concrete stoop. He had two piles of chicken laying on the concrete, one whole and one of pieces.

Very busy place and highly rated by the locals. Always crowded. I never ate there.

Dwight

If at first you succeed, try not to act surprised.

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... chopping chicken on the back stoop next to the trash and grease dumpsters. NOT on a chopping board on a prep table but the actual concrete stoop. He had two piles of chicken laying on the concrete, one whole and one of pieces...

They do that at one of my favourite places in Thailand - weird the first time you see it - in the tropical heat, too - and it sure made me think, but I still eat there every time. The whole gang does and we've never had a problem.

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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  • 1 month later...

This still makes handle fruit deliveries very, very gingerly. Beautiful summers day, started the day by having a long lunch with friends and arrive at work to do some easy prep before opening for an amazing bar shift in the sun. Too bad I opened a fresh case of limes to find a very alive, very upset, very deadly spider.

Also finding a human tooth during refurbishment under the some wall skirting from a bar fight that apparently happened 20 years prior made me a touch queasy.

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