Employees reveal 14 gross things that they’ve seen happen in restaurant kitchens
When you think about it, it’s kind of amazing how much trust we put in restaurants.
We allow strangers (albeit professionals, hopefully) to prepare our meals in relative obscurity and we just choose to believe that nothing bad has happened to the food on our plate.
Anyone who has worked at a restaurant has seen things that should put us off of eating at restaurants without open kitchens maybe forever, but well, who is actually going to swear off dining out?
Below are some of the wildest things chefs have witnessed working in professional kitchens — the gross, the gory, and the unbelievable.
Keep in mind that because most of these come from Reddit and Quora, INSIDER was unable to independently verify the claims, but they sure are fun to read.
“The head pizza dude took off his apron and walked out.”
“The owner of the pizzeria I worked at walks in and sees a burnt pie in the trash, takes it out, pulls the cheese off, puts it on my pizza table and says ‘reuse that! Cheese is expensive!’. The head pizza dude took off his apron and walked out. I just threw it away once the owner left.” – Redditor FudgeTosser
“I would have to smash my hand against the machine to get the yellow jackets out long enough to make someone a whole drink.”
“Worked in food at an amusement park. You know the drinks fountains? Yeah well you are supposed to cover them or else bugs will get up in the spouts in an open-air food place. We didn’t, and yellow jackets and ants would live in there until we started pouring drinks.
“I would have to smash my hand against the machine to get the yellow jackets out long enough to make someone a whole drink.” – Redditor This_IsNot_A_Drill
“I found a fly smushed down in the dough I was about to use.”
“I worked making pizza at an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet chain, and was just remembering one time where I found a fly smushed down in the dough I was about to use. I told the manager about it, he picked it out and told me to use it anyway. I ‘accidentally’ dropped it on the floor right then and had to throw it out.” – Redditor cn2092
“The chili that we made was nothing more than vegetables with old hamburgers that were cooked a bit too long.”
“The chili that we made was nothing more than vegetables with old hamburgers that were cooked a bit too long or simply left on the grill too long. The idea didn’t bother me too much until I saw someone pick up a hamburger that had fallen on the floor to be used in the chili. In the restaurant’s defense, managers did not see it happen.” – Redditor eyekwah2
“If someone dropped an uncooked pizza on the floor, they’d pick it up and just toss it into the oven.”
“I used to work in a kitchen. Nothing too bad happened. But if someone dropped an uncooked pizza on the floor, they’d pick it up and just toss it into the oven.
“Same with frozen burger patties. But if it was already cooked, we’d throw it out. Or my coworker would eat it.” – Anonymous Redditor
“They took used guacamole bowls, didn’t wash them, put in more guac, and sent them out.”
“My favorite thing that happened was the day I quit. They took used guacamole bowls, didn’t wash them, put in more guac, and sent them out. This was done because the owners refused to buy more bowls and the head chef was not okay with us waiting to clean them, so I left.” – Redditor notahipster
“Most of the cooks were smokers, but couldn’t smoke on the clock, so they would dip instead.”
“Worst I saw was a trash can that was located right next to the grill. Most of the cooks were smokers, but couldn’t smoke on the clock, so they would dip instead. And they would use said trash can to spit in. And they would sometimes miss the trash can and hit the grill. Sizzling dip spit sounds still haunt me today!” – Redditor firegrl
“I requested for an early day off but he refused.”
“I used to work in an Indian restaurant. The owner of the place would have given Ebenzer Scrooge a run for his title.
“The kitchen was hot as hell — a true reflection of the working condition.
“One of the days, I was down with flu. I requested for an early day off but he refused. It was close to the closing time and he wanted to have his dinner prepared.
“I had no choice but to comply.
“I was asked to prepare Nan (looks like Tortilla).
“While kneading the dough, I was sweating profusely and my sweat kept falling in the dough, also I had a runny nose to deal with, howsoever hard I tried I couldn’t keep more than a few drops from falling in it.
“It took close to an hour to prepare the food.
“After eating, in reference to making me work extra, with a sadistic grin he commented ‘it tastes special today’.
“I bet it did.” – Anonymous Quora user
“You might be surprised at the number of restaurants that do cooking and preparations down in their basements.”
As someone who works in a health department, you might be surprised at the number of restaurants that do cooking and preparations down in their basements. I’ve heard one restaurant inspector tell me ‘some of these basements, you go down there and you don’t know if you’re ever coming back out of there.’
“There’s nothing like walking from the 1st floor of a modern looking expensive, trendy restaurant until you get out of the public area and go down the creaky unpainted wooded stairs and find a basement with damp stone foundation walls, puddles of water on the ground, and a crew of people cooking soup in a 10 gallon pot which is on the ground at the time.” – Redditor trendo
“Poor guy comes running back into the kitchen crying from pain because he peed without washing his hands.”
“In one of the kitchens I’ve worked in, we made a delicious smoked habanero salsa. In order to get the habaneros smoked, they have to be cut in half and seeded. We put one of our interns on the job. He was about 17 years old. He spent two hours cleaning and seeding hundreds of these very hot peppers, sans gloves. We noticed he finished the job, and left to go to the washroom. Poor guy comes running back into the kitchen crying from pain because he peed without washing his hands, then proceeded to wipe the tears off his eyes. An ambulance was called. Poor guy.” – Redditor RedRedRoad
“A chef pulled a dead fly from the gravy.”
“A chef pulled a dead fly from the gravy of someone’s meal and then handed it to waitstaff to take out to customers.” – Redditor Maccas75
“I was usually the person who would open up the ceiling tiles to check for the dead rodent and drag it out of there.”
“I used to work at a restaurant with a rat infestation. Every day, we would put traps. We’d usually find something stick to our traps every few days or so. Sometimes they’d die on the ceiling.
“When they start to decompose, that’s when we would mask the smell with scented candles or incense sticks. I was usually the person who would open up the ceiling tiles to check for the dead rodent and drag it out of there.” – Anonymous Quora user
“I seriously almost threw up, just thinking about all the kids I’d seen eating cones served from that very machine.”
“The absolute most disgusting thing I ever saw was when I was taught how to do the weekly cleaning on the soft serve ice cream machine.
“This was an involved process, so there wasn’t really time to do it every single day. That meant that there were long periods of time each day when there was nobody in the store, and all that delicious sugary goodness was just sitting in this big metal contraption, undisturbed.
“My trainer opened the metal door and started pulling hoses and mysterious plastic bits out. It didn’t seem terribly dirty, so I initially wondered what exactly needed to be cleaned. But then, I understood.
“As he got to the back of the dispenser, he was calmly explaining the disassembly process, when all of a sudden we both jumped back in a panic.
“Out of the ice cream reservoir crawled half a dozen of these guys … (photo of cockroaches)
“I seriously almost threw up, just thinking about all the kids I’d seen eating cones served from that very machine.
“The worst part? I asked the guy whether we needed to do anything to keep the roaches from returning, and he said, ‘Nah, they get in there all the time.'”
“Delicious.” – Quora user Ken Walker
“Then there was the five gallons of New England clam chowder at a rolling boil, still in the walk-in fridge.”
“Then there was the five gallons of New England clam chowder at a rolling boil, still in the walk-in fridge.
“The bacterial load so incredibly high, the pot was actually boiling as if it were on the burner.” – Quora user John Chase