Saturday, January 4, 2014

Booboos from the professional kitchen...we all get them!

The professional kitchen can be a pretty dangerous place. We work with fire, hell hot ovens, machinery that can cut your arm off or break’s a jungle in there. And if precaution isn’t taken, it can get ugly. Everyone needs to move, and move FAST. The professional kitchen can sometimes get to be a madhouse when it’s crazy busy. Hustling and bustling your ass can put the pressure on, and with that much pressure, some can stray to lose focus, and when focus is lost, that can lead to being less careful. And being less careful can lead to something like this..

Mad gross, right? That is the hand of my former coworker, Pablo. I am not certain what the heck even happened since he won’t tell me the details. I’m guessing he’s too embarrassed to say. But from the looks of it, I can only guess that it was the meat slicing machine that did this…ripping apart his finger tips. That is pretty bad and must have hurt like hell. Pablo wasn’t able to use his hand for a month and had to go on disability. But he’s recovered and is back to working again.
Last year, I remember Pablo texting me a picture of the tip of his thumb slightly cut off. And that incident was from the meat slicer too. But it was such a tiny little cut compared to this. He was telling me that our boss joked about serving his thumb tip as a special that night….chef humor...*sighs* At the time, he was slicing charcuterie  and tried to pick out a piece that was stuck within the blade while the machine was running…never a good idea. Apparently, Pablo likes to live dangerously.  And well, being the dare devil that he is, he certainly ended up paying the price.

I have asked Pablo many times how he got this last injury. And he’d joke and tell me, “ran into some bad pussy”. And I’d say to him, “Geez stay away from them dirty hookers”. LOL…(that’s kitchen language for ya)
Fortunately for me, I have never had any serious/severe injuries. I don’t even know what I’d do if I ever did. I’d probably die from shock. I wouldn’t be able to take it. All I’ve had so far were minor cuts and burns, nothing out of the norm. Most of those common mishaps were from rushing, feeling the pressure, taking less precaution, being sleepy, or whatever.

However, when I am operating one of them seemingly intimidating machines, I take extra extra precaution. My paranoid side really kicks in whenever I am near a dangerous machine. I am on high alert and not let anything else distract me because a lot of times, it’s those small distractions that can lead to the biggest accidents.
The meat slicer really is the machine I hate using the most. I’ve heard and seen too many horror stories caused by that thing. Once, I heard about some guy having his arm ripped out by one of them machines. YIKES!

Last year, another chef at work injured himself with one of those small handheld blenders. That little thing can really do some serious damage. I think he was trying to get something out of the blade or something when he got distracted when someone came up to him and talked to him..and he accidently pushed the ON button. That thing sliced his fingers and blood oozed out all over the floor, walls, and squirted onto the ceiling. OMG!

Before professional cooking, I enjoyed being a home cook. Those were the days!! I was able to cook in peace, watch TV while making a meal, and go at my own pace. I never had the need to rush. I didn’t even know the meaning of feeling the pressure of cooking. Back then, cooking/baking was a soothing, relaxing activity. It was therapeutic, even. Now, it’s completely something else.


  1. (This wasn't posting right--not sure if you got it twice)

    I dunno if Id call all of yours minor either--you had a pretty nasty burn that time on your arm, and I'd wager you still have a visible scar from it.
    The rule with meat slicers is no one, talks to you. period.If the meat cutter upper needs to be summoned, the safest way is to use one of those service bells--ding DING! He stopps what hes doing and turns around to see whats up.
    As to Pablo theres not much excuse for that--fishing something out while the blade is spinning is playing Russian finger roulette. And Id bet that the accident slowed down the operation far more than stopping and doing it right would've.
    Y'all need to be more careful and spit a big one at the time crunch. It gets done, even if a few seconds later than we'd like.

    1. Yes, all of my injuries have been pretty minor. I've only gotten the usual cuts and burns that everyone else gets. It comes with the territory, so I consider those minor. What would not be minor is something like Pablo's injury. Disasterous, ER visiting mishaps that keep you from being able to work temporarily. THOSE are ones I'd consider not minor.

      Yeah, Pablo is crazy. BTW does that injury look like it was caused by the meat slicer to you too? He still won't tell me. But to me, it totally looks like a meat slicer injury...I can just imagine that his fingers got too close and got caught by the blade..and the blade ripped into it and could've been worse if the machine was let running longer.

  2. Jeez - I thought that pic was YOUR hand. How scary. I used to have a little dream of maybe working in a professional kitchen b/c it looked so cool and educational. But man, after finding your blog and reading the horror stories, I'm totally scared. Those accidents you spoke about sound horrific. I don't even know what I would do either if some of those things happened in front of me. I'd faint. And I'm not even a fainter. Glad you've been mostly accident free in the professional kitchen.

    1. If you are fascinated with learning from the pros, there are a lot of places that would welcome a "free hand" as I mentioned in a previous post. They will let you in their kitchen, let you observe, teach and explain things to you, and have you help out (usually the grunt work since they are most likely not going to let outsiders actually COOK their food to be served). So it's kind of a quid pro quo kinda thing. And of course, there are some places that would not even hear of letting outsiders into their kitchen and disturb their flow. But I think you should try it once. You would learn a lot. You should totally do it just for the heck of it. You might even have fun.

    2. Yeah I don't think I'm up for learning stuff in a professional kitchen now. I don't think I'd even want to try it out now. Grunt work, as you put it, doesn't seem much fun to do for someone you don't know. You'll have to tell us what keeps you motivated in this business. I feel bad that you used to love cooking at home and now it's kinda changed. My kitchen is my 'safe' place so I don't want anything to ever change that. Hope you're having a safe kitchen week so far!

    3. I heard that so many people leave this industry to go back to their other profession or to pursue something else. It's definitely not for everyone. It's slave work, dangerous, shitty pay, and extremely thankless labor.

      And then there are people that can't imagine doing anything else. They thrive on that rush and madness that one can only experience in the kitchen. They are passionate about food and what they do. Having people rave about your creations is what keeps them motivated.


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