Dangerous Cookies and a Cockroach Fetish: Restaurant Horror Stories

In Depth

Welcome to Behind Closed Ovens, the series where Kitchenette takes a look at the most absurd stories from the most absurd industry in existence: food service. As always, we begin with one of my own stories (or at least one that happened to a co-worker):

A friend of mine was a restaurant manager for years before he went into back-of-house concession work because the pay was better and the job was less stressful. At one Italian place where he was managing, there was a server no one liked (there always is), who we’ll call Ted. This server was the sort of guy who’d grab prep food as the cooks were making it in the back, without asking and with absolutely no remorse.

So a prep cook we’ll call Denny was in the back prepping a sheet of cookies, and Ted grabbed an already-set wad of cookie dough every time he came through the kitchen, being quick enough to do it each time when Denny wasn’t close enough to physically stop him. After the fourth time, Denny had had enough, and grabbed a tube of wasabi paste, making sure to use about half the tube in one wad of dough situated right at the edge of the tray closest to where Ted would be coming through.

When the ambulance arrived, Denny figured he was in real trouble. Luckily, Ted never ratted him out despite the ER visit. Maybe he was terrified of the other things Denny could do with a tube of wasabi paste.

From Kinja user intheweeds:

“I had just started working the hot line and on this particular night, I was alone for a bit working the grill and we had a special that consisted of a whole grilled trout amongst other things. It was very slow that night (which is how the new kid ended up working the line alone in the first place) so I had time to make it really nice. I was so proud and I handed it to the server and he humored me by agreeing it was ‘the best trout ever’. He took it out into the dining room and a few seconds later I hear this violent yelling. A few seconds after that the yelling gets closer and the saloon doors to the kitchen fly open and standing in front f me is a very angry suit followed shortly behind by the maitre d’. He smashes the plate on the ground in front of me screaming that I’m a lazy piece of shit and that we are ripping him off, etc. etc..
The reason? His whole trout had a head and tail and I was too lazy to butcher it further for him. This was seen as a cash grab(? seriously.) and he was insistent that we had tried to rip him off. It’s funny now, but I was terrified at the time. It was the only time I have ever been so glad I was so armed. He got thrown out obviously and I unfortunately did not get to use my knives and hot oil in their alternate capacity as weapons.
Anyway, I lost that job. One day I showed up to work and the entire kitchen was gone. Like literally. It was in ruins. Apparently the owner had pissed someone serious off and they had left a bomb in a briefcase by the back delivery door. We didn’t get laid off, obviously, we just had no jobs anymore. A fitting end.”

From Kinja user CunnyBird:

“I was working at an Italian wine bar and tapas restaurant on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. One slow, rainy evening a gorgeous woman came in and sat at the bar. She was a dead ringer for Marion Cotillard. I recommended the Montepulciano; she ordered a glass. Not talkative. She was grading a stack of essays. I gave her a refill. Just as she reached for her replenished drink, an enormous cockroach skittered around the base of her glass, across the paper she was marking, and disappeared down the bar.
I panicked, but before I could get out an apology, she looked me in the eye with a big grin and took a massive gulp of wine, and, inexplicably, spent the rest of the evening trying to get into my pants. I think I discovered the only woman in the world with a cockroach fetish. And she was hot.”

If anyone has a crazy food industry (it doesn’t have to be restaurant) story that they’d like to see shared on Behind Closed Ovens, please don’t hesitate to e-mail Kitchenette at [email protected].

Image courtesy of the Restaurant of the Flies, and also Kinja user intheweeds.

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