& COOKING ARTICLE
kitchen can some times be a dark place! Inanimate objects
can come alive and unimaginable things can go wrong.
Disaster can strike at any time making any chef or enthusiastic
cook go weak at the knees . . . enough to make a strong
man use the F word or need a stiff drink to steady the
are stories of some of those kitchen nightmares! Many
thanks to all who have contributed.
Nightmares of Gemma Driver:
- don't cut corners when preparing snails. Thinking
that most of the procedures I had read seemed overcomplicated
(purging, starving, initial boiling, gutting, salt
and vinegaring, boiling in stock for hours), I followed
a recipe that cut out several stages of the snail
preparation process. The resulting gristle-in-copious-slime
effect was inedible. I still tried to eat it of course,
(unsuccessfully) but the experience put me off snails
for a few months!
Driver ~ Food Writer
Nightmares of Alan Spedding:
took part in a prime time television cookery show.
Part of the fly on the wall documentary involved
me spending the day training at one of the countries
top restaurant kitchens, shadowing the head chef and
second chef around all day.
cut a long story short, during dinner service, my
job was to help plate up the starters of Tuna Tartare
surrounded by a ring of lambs lettuce petals. Anyway,
I was only managing to plate up one portion as opposed
to the second chef's three portions. My lambs lettuce
just wouldn't lay flat on the plate. They kept curling
up and looking untidy. Only when I was about to give
up did I notice the chef's special technique
for getting them to lie flat on the plate . . . a
little spread of saliva on each one! Just like licking
a stamp! I watched, mouth open, speechless and amazed
. . . and it worked too! It was horrific and needless
to say I didn't add this to my list of kitchen techniques.
next day I shadowed the head chef (name withheld to
protect my life). It was canapé time and crab
samosas were the highlight of the menu. The tip must
have been catching on! If you have ever seen anyone
rolling their own cigarettes and licking the paper
- top tip of the day this - that's how the head chef
got the crab samosas to seal well . . . a quick lick
of the tongue . . . I never returned for a meal!
Nightmares of Alan Coxon:
the head chef responsible for one of the largest four
star hotels in Europe, looking after 1,098 rooms and
around 3,000 guests on full occupancy, not forgetting
the non residential guests that increased figures
to around 4,000 customers per day, I was constantly
faced with challenges.
main reason for these challenges was the fact that
there were only 480 seats available in the main dinning
room, all the food was cooked fresh on the a la
carte menu, and needless to say everyone preferred
to dine around 7:30pm to 8:00pm for dinner.
shortage of seating led to hundreds of people queuing
this was not bad enough I was permanently operating
twelve chefs short of my full compliment due to challenges
within the personnel dept and their recruitment processes.
As the restaurant was bursting and the queue backing
up as far as the eye could see, most frustrated guests
would opt to return to their rooms and order room
Logical to many people but unfortunately the kitchen
that looked after the main dining room also looked
after room service as well. If this was not bad enough,
room service was equally short staffed having only
three waiters to look after the 1,098 rooms. The hotel
was so big that once a waiter was dispatched with
the food it would take them 15 minutes to reach the
average room followed by a 15 min return journey with
no satellite kitchen en-route. Needless to say room
service needed to be booked days in advance for any
hope of obtaining any service whatsoever!
If this was not bad enough the new high-tech kitchen
had the latest safety sensors, ensuring that a complete
gas cut off switch was triggered at the slightest
draft! When the gas cut off it naturally needed a
specialist to reconnect the system and to return the
kitchen back to full scale action. The whole process
taking around thirty minutes.
one off gas outage could be understandable but this
sensitive pipe would leave us stranded three to four
times an evening, causing all the imaginable upsets
in the process. With 4,000 customers begging to be
served, no staff and then no gas, life could not get
With food orders pumping out of the points of sale
system, rolling out like toilet roll, I as management
had added responsibilities such as being a member
of the first response team, who in case of emergency
was called out to investigate with immediate action
any potential fire risk.
As I left my gasless kitchen and screaming guests
I would race fanatically towards the room to assess
the situation, all of these I am pleased to say turned
out to be false alarms, sadly the battles encountered
within my own domain were real and can only be described
as none other than real Kitchen Nightmares!
Coxon ~ food archaeologist and celebrity chef
Nightmares of Gayle Hartley:
love baked potatoes, especially cooked on the fire
until the skin is crispy and the insides are perfectly
squashy. Combined with butter and cheese it is heaven
long ago we were barbecuing and I was sick of boiled
potatoes or potato salad so I thought I'd do baked
potatoes. The coals were too hot to cook them from
scratch so I started them off in the oven to be finished
off in the hot BBQ coals.
the potatoes were almost done, I wrapped them in foil
and put them under the BBQ grill to crisp off while
we were cooking the meat. The meat took slightly longer
than expected but it didn't matter as I like my potato
skins crispy. After about half an hour of cooking
we served up the meat and I got out the potatoes,
took them into the kitchen and unwrapped them . .
. there in front of me were six little black tennis
balls! The potatoes had shrunk a little and burnt
but I thought I could just scrape off the black bits!
I wish! When I tried to cut one in half the whole
thing just disintegrated in my hands. They were all
the same so we had tomatoes instead!
Traditional Spanish paella - no problem! Humble baked
potato . . .
. . there are more to come!
you have a kitchen nightmare to contribute then email
19 July 2007
Hub-UK : firstname.lastname@example.org