5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.
Kitchens are naturally scary places: there are open flames, an abundance of sharp knives and vats of boiling oil.
With Halloween lurking just around the corner, Jesse Mallgren of Madrona Manor in Healdsburg, California, gets in the spirit of things by sharing a few horrific tales from the culinary crypt.
Five of the Worst Things I've Seen in a Restaurant: Jesse Mallgren
1. "Kitchens are generally a testosterone driven affair. I once worked for a sous chef who would drop a towel on the floor and ask female staff to pick it up so he could look at them bending over."
2. "All meat served in a restaurant must be inspected by the USDA. My second week at a job, I came in and a skinned whole deer was hanging in the walk-in. The longtime maintenance man was an avid hunter and under the former chef he was allowed to age his kill. Within fifteen minutes of looking at the deer hanging in the walk-in, the health inspector walks in and says, “So you like to serve venison?” I answered “I love to buy whole animals” and somehow got away with it."
3. "I worked for a short time at a restaurant that was next to a large field. We would have the occasional field mouse in the dry storage looking for something to eat. The mice got into a sack of flour and the owner wanted us to sift out the mouse poop. That was my last day."
4. "Fish is an expensive perishable produce. I saw a chef freeze fish that was going bad and try to cook it frozen so he would not have to throw it out."
5. "Some chefs complain about vegetarians. I do not mind cooking for them in fact I find it an interesting challenge. I worked for a chef who put chicken stock in all vegetarian food. He said, 'They will think I cook the best vegetarian food they have ever had.'
I had a raw vegan guest recently. I ran up to the garden for a few tomatoes still warm from the sun, juiced the tomatoes, blended the tomato juice with raw cashews, lemon juice and a bit of garlic and made a raw vegan creamy tomato soup that was delicious."
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