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Restaurant kitchen screw-ups/faux pas


Jambalyle
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I love reading the embarassing cooking moments and worst meal threads, but most appear limited to home or another's home. My most embarassing cooking moment was went I was working in a restaurant...

I made a whole batch of Creme Brulee/Burnt Cream desserts (3-4 dozen) using salt instead of sugar. Yup, someone had mixed up the bins and refilled the sugar bin with a 50# bag of salt. I prepared the custard, cooked it in its water bath, and refrigerated... ready for that evening's crowd. The first burnt cream that night was served with the sugar top carmelized to perfection, only to be sent back to the kitchen by a gagging customer. The chef was mortified and I gobsmacked when it was discovered what had happened. Lucky for me, it was the dishwasher or prep cook that got canned for dumping the salt in the sugar bin.

My ears just got red reliving the moment! OK, I'll sleep better tonight for living up to my mistake.

What's your story?

Sitting on the fence between gourmet and gourmand, I am probably leaning to the right...

Lyle P.

Redwood City, CA

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It was my first year waitressing, and I was working a banquet and carrying a tray between two long very close together tables. My foot caught in something, there was a shocked gasp and then the room of 80 something people went strangely silent. I had yanked out some poor old woman's oxygen! My foot had tangled in the cord connecting to her tank. In shock, I set the tray down, and somehow managed to plug her back in. My face was beet red. I was completely horrified.

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I love reading the embarassing cooking moments and worst meal threads, but most appear limited to home or another's home.  My most embarassing cooking moment was went I was working in a restaurant...

I made a whole batch of Creme Brulee/Burnt Cream desserts (3-4 dozen) using salt instead of sugar.  Yup, someone had mixed up the bins and refilled the sugar bin with a 50# bag of salt.  I prepared the custard, cooked it in its water bath, and refrigerated...  ready for that evening's crowd.  The first burnt cream that night was served with the sugar top carmelized to perfection, only to be sent back to the kitchen by a gagging customer.  The chef was mortified and I gobsmacked when it was discovered what had happened.  Lucky for me, it was the dishwasher or prep cook that got canned for dumping the salt in the sugar bin.

My ears just got red reliving the moment!  OK, I'll sleep better tonight for living up to my mistake.

What's your story?

so you don't taste your own food and let someone else take the fall.......

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do you mean other than noticing your band aid is missing.......years before gloves were common practice

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

garden state motorcyle association

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I once made a fake birthday cake out of cardboard, decorated with cherry tomatoes, capers and olives, for my boss's birthday. He was a priest, this was at a retreat house in front of a room full of aging nuns. I pretended to trip while they were all singing and there was this horrified silence. I turned to the kitchen door and said, bring out the other one, and someone came out with the real cake. Kind of like life imitating life, if you know what I mean.

I also did the salt in the chocolate mousse thing. My boss's wife(another boss, though the first guy mentioned is now married) asked me if I were going to taste the mousse. I said, no, if it mounds like this, it's fine. When she left the room I tasted it, and I had used salt instead of sugar.

And another time I sent a meal out for the editor of a tony horticultural magazine, the waitress said, Mr. Fibkins said no rice, I said, tell him the chef said he doesn't have to eat it. Seconds later, the real chef was in the doorway with the plate, shaking his head and saying, no pally, you can't say that.

Anybody that's worked in kitchens for any length of time has hundreds of stories.

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so you don't taste your own food and let someone else take the fall.......

They tended to get upset when you ate anything besides your "employee designated meal". And tasting the raw egg custard is not generally encouraged.

Edited by Jambalyle (log)

Sitting on the fence between gourmet and gourmand, I am probably leaning to the right...

Lyle P.

Redwood City, CA

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Salt caremalises?

The sugar used for the carmelized topping came from a different source than the salt contaminated sugar bin.

Sitting on the fence between gourmet and gourmand, I am probably leaning to the right...

Lyle P.

Redwood City, CA

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Something fairly similar is described in

this post: a new line cook gets a little overwhelmed by a large souffle order, so the exec chef steps in and takes over -- but doesn't check what the white stuff is, that he mixes in... Salty Grand Marnier souffles...

:smile:

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Something fairly similar is described in

this post: a new line cook gets a little overwhelmed by a large souffle order, so the exec chef steps in and takes over -- but doesn't check what the white stuff is, that he mixes in... Salty Grand Marnier souffles...

:smile:

At home we usually cook with fleur de sel. I recently bought some Kosher salt to make preserved lemons. I usually keep the salt in the box, but this time I put some in a little glass container. My highly trained, oh so experienced chef husband put some salt into his coffee thinking that it was sugar. Our six year laughed hysterically as her papa gagged on his morning coffee. She told him, "Papa the crystals are different. It doesn't look the same as sugar."

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I was waiting table in a hotel facility. Huge party 100+.

Some idiot gets up (I told him I was behind him) while I'm trying to pour coffee and slams into me. The whole pot goes down the front of this very buxom lass in a white low cut dress. I grab a napkin shove it in a water pitcher a start patting down her clevage. I look up and her date, I think it was her husband, asked me if I was enjoying myself. I look at my hand think oh @#^& !

I froze for a minute. Dropped the napkin and walk right out of the place and into the nearest bar.

She was nice about it. I can't say the rest of the table was though. Boy did that day suck.

**************************************************

Ah, it's been way too long since I did a butt. - Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

--------------------

One summers evening drunk to hell, I sat there nearly lifeless…Warren

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At my sister's eighth grade graduation dinner, at a nice prime-rib type restaurant, with many kids at the table, the waitress, carrying a huge tray with many glasses of milk, spilled the whole thing all over my grandfather. I wasn't there (or if I was, I don't remember it, since I was 4 at the time, and not exactly privy to the reparationsn made), but I think they paid to clean his suit. I would hope that they comped something from that meal. I'm sure the waitress was mortified; fortunately, my grandfather had a good sense of humor.

"I just hate health food"--Julia Child

Jennifer Garner

buttercream pastries

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What is "gobsmacked"? :hmmm:

Surprisingly enough, it isn't in Merriam-Webster, but it means essentially the same as "flabbergasted." Other synonyms at "amazed," "incredulous," "dumbstruck," etc.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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  • 1 month later...

Are stories as a guest okay?

About ten years ago, my SO and I went to Bath, England for a trip. While there, we stayed in a nice B&B. (This was before "Flirting with Disaster" affirmed my dislike of B&B's.)

Anyway, this was a beautiful, huge old house owned by an old couple that ran the place. The Mr. was an old British Naval officer - and one of these insufferable people who says "don't call me Mr. Smith, just call me 'Admiral.'" Grrr.

So the first morning I get up for breakfast. I'm a few minutes ahead of Leslie so I go down to the dining room table. Nothing on the table but empty plates and a big pitcher of orange juice.

I sit down and the Admiral starts regaling me with stories of the history of the table. Family heirloom, survived two wars. He can't shut up about the freakin' table! I'd have thought Arthur himself had chopped down the tree.

Finally, Leslie comes to the dining room, bumps a leg (as if on cue), and spills the orange juice all over the Admiral's table. You could almost hear the acid eroding the finish. I thought the Admiral was going to have a stroke (though Lady Admiral quickly had the situation under control).

I could hardly control myself as I tried to help clean up. Leslie had no idea what was wrong with me, as I had tears rolling down my cheeks from holding in the laughter. Had to splain the set-up to her later.

We were pretty much stealth guests, the rest of our time there!

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Here's a good one from this past weekend. I'd gone out to Sacramento for a friend's birthday party. She'd picked the place, but had never been, but picked it based on the criteria of having food and live music.

First off, the bar we were supposed to meet at first didn't open until 7pm (on a Friday!) That should have been a sign that the evening was cursed, but we bravely soldiered on, and after everyone had gathered, we went into a divier bar next door to the restaurant for a drink before dinner.

So we get into the restaurant - we are the first customers, as it also opened at 7pm. This place has only been open a couple of months. Waitresses are dressed as "saloon girls" in black corsets and short black skirts. Fishnets are, apparently, optional. :blink: Our waitress, a young woman, probably no more than in her early 20's, and probably in her first waitressing job, explains the menu:

For a fixed $19.95 price, we got a three-course meal, with salad (with "house-made" Thousand Island vinaigrette :hmmm: ), a choice of BBQ baby back ribs, served with cornbread and coleslaw, chicken pasta with fresh vegetables (which that night were canned artichoke hearts and mushrooms), or shrimp scampi. Our table ordered the variety of stuff, so some of everything appeared at the table. I ordered the ribs.

Salad was a sad display of iceberg lettuce slathered with a mayo-based dressing, two or three kidney beans, and one beet slice. Not especially great, but considering how hungry I was, edible.

Dinner arrived, and they brought me the shrimp by mistake. Shrimp skimpy might have been a more accurate description, since there were only 5 average-sized shrimp on the plate, along with a pile of what turned out to be INSTANT mashed potatoes, and sauteed mushrooms, which, by the looks of them, were what went into the pasta. My neighbor ordered the ribs, as well, which came with a slice of toasted French bread (no corn bread), and seemingly dry, with no sauce). The pasta looked OK, though bland. My ribs arrived about 10 minutes later, as everybody was finishing up their entrees.

No slaw. No cornbread. What I'm guessing they did was to remove the shrimp from my plate and stick on the ribs because I had the instant mash and mushrooms that the shrimp people had had. My ribs? They had sauce. And were raw. Not rare, which would have been odd enough. But raw. :sad::blink: Oh, parts of them were cooked, but of the 4 ribs on my plate, only one was even close to edible. I made do with the mashed potatoes and mushrooms.

When the waitress came to clear my plate, she asked me how everything was. I said, very nicely, that my ribs were raw. She took them back into the kitchen and came back out about 5 minutes later and asked if I wanted them cooked more. :blink: Huh? No, thank you. Just bring me dessert, and let's get this over with. (the live music was awful as well).

Dessert? Well, wouldn't you know that it was just as special as the rest of the meal: two rock-hard oatmeal raisin cookies with a scoop of ice cream in between. The kind of vanilla ice cream that won't melt after 25 minutes on the plate. Can't eat it with a knife and fork. If you pick it up with your fingers, and bite down on the cookies, ice cream squishes out the other side.

The only saving grace of the whole evening was that they did remove the cost of my meal from the tab, and all of us had such a horrific time that we could laugh about it once we'd left.

I'm sure this place is doomed, and I did feel bad for the servers and what was passing for kitchen staff. They seemed to have a rather busy bar crowd that accumulated while we endured dinner, and I thought that if they just did bar food (buffalo wings, onion rings, nachos, that sort of thing), they'd be far better off because actually trying to cook anything was a huge bust.

And my friend is never, ever allowed to pick her birthday spot again. :biggrin:

"I just hate health food"--Julia Child

Jennifer Garner

buttercream pastries

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First waitressing job. Second week into it.

My table ordered a round of drinks, 3 beers, a shot and a glass of red wine. Now being rather inexperienced I didn't balance the drinks on my tray quite right. And I certainly didn't take them off in the proper order because all of a sudden WHOOPS, red wine spilled all over a very well dressed young man at the table.

I was mortified and wanted to cry. Red wine stains you know. He was so very sweet about the whole thing. Told me not to worry about it, he had an extra pair of pants in the car. One of the girls at the table (former waitress) even gave me some tray balancing tips while he ran out and changed his pants.

I told him I would get the manager and I would pay for his dry cleaning. He would have none of it. I told the manager anyway and we comped his meal and the red wine. He personally left me a tip that equalled the cost of his meal & then some and a note that read "Don't sweat the small stuff".

I am so grateful for his kindness that night. I know it could have been a very bad situation with someone else. I was still very embarrassed as the whole dining room saw what happened. I heard about that from the other servers for months. :hmmm:

Today is going to be one of those days.....

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Reminds me of my first experience with the waiter's friend and a lousy merlot: sliced and removed the foil, inserted the screw, latched the pivot arm, and pulled and pulled and pulled and needed leverage and placed the bottle on the edge of the four-top table and pulled and pulled and ...

... opened the bottle very, very suddenly.

:huh:

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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The new 2 stage waiters corkscrews won't do that. I gave up my Laguiole and put it in the drawer when I got a 2 stage. http://www.newyorkfirst.com/gifts/m038.html

Edited by winesonoma (log)

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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I made a whole batch of Creme Brulee/Burnt Cream desserts (3-4 dozen) using salt instead of sugar. The first burnt cream that night was served with the sugar top carmelized to perfection, only to be sent back to the kitchen by a gagging customer.

We had a similar experience, except the chef who was on pastry that night tried to top the brulees with salt before caramelizing them: big mistake.

She then sent the (literally) bruleed custard out to the guest: bigger mistake.

Salt caremalises?

No - it burns. (see above)

Forget the house, forget the children. I want custody of the red and access to the port once a month.

KEVIN CHILDS.

Doesn't play well with others.

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Birthday dinner at a poncy resto in Toronto's Gay Ghetto. I remember the words of my dining companion....well if it's made and run by homosexuals it's bound to be primo!

yeah right.

I decided to go with the "special" duck breast wild rice french lentil thingy -no price listed "market price" that was it.

He ordered a Tuscan style steak - with a multimushroommedley.

I received my duck - I politely waited for my dining comapanion to receive his meal

and about 10 minutes later, I suggested that if his meal wasn't ready they should return mine to the kitchen (and to whomever had actually ordered it earlier)

and return with both meals together.

But of course.

10 more minutes pass.

I drink my oversized under-liquored mojito-style drink sans mint, and lime and featuring frankly something akin to Fresca.

At last dinner arrives.

My original duck camped under the heatlamp for 15 minutes and now just short of cremated.

His steak had magically transformed into bacon wrapped scallops.

F*&%c almighty!

The drinks were $28.00

But the real insult was my market priced duck -$45.00

I can't remember if we were comped or not.

Lesson never trust a stereotype!

Life! what's life!? Just natures way of keeping meat fresh - Dr. who

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