FSD Culinary Council

Chefs share ways they handled a kitchen disaster

Q: How have 
you handled a kitchen disaster?

A: The best reaction is the calm one. Sometimes it’s hard to remain calm when you find that only a little thought could have prevented issues like dropping a whole speed rack of salads or not checking the oven temperature and roasting the hell out of the souffle tartlets. First and foremost, never lose sight of guest satisfaction, then render the best possible solution quickly and professionally.

-Cameron Clegg
Executive Chef
Parkhurst Dining at Highmark

A: We had a catering for a pasta bar for 250 people, and within the first 15 minutes we noticed that they were going through penne much faster than the other two options. I had backup water on the stove to be proactive in case this happened, but my recent in-service with the staff on saving energy literally bit me in the backside, because a staff member had turned off the stovetop. I quickly put the dry pasta in a deep hotel pan, covered it with two times the water and steamed it for 10 minutes (stirring halfway through). We were able to get it out in time, and the customers never even knew there was a problem.

-Jennifer Leamons
Executive Chef
Sodexo at Carolina Health Care Stanly
Albemarle, N.C.

A: Several years ago, we had a sprinkler head fail over an oven in our main kitchen. If you have never experienced that, it is 25 gallons a minute of oily, rusty, stinky, dank water pouring down into every nook and cranny of your kitchen. In a 60-year-old building, finding the shutoff can be a challenge. It was 45 minutes before the fire department got it turned off.

-Eric Eisenberg
Corporate Executive Chef/Retail Operations Manager
Swedish Health Services, Seattle



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