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Talk to the chef - kitchen disasters
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These top Miami chefs share their most embarrassing kitchen stories

From spilling water on a kid to dropping an entire tray of soup, these mortifying tales are absolutely hilarious.

By
Virginia Gil
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Nowadays, being a chef can seem awfully glamorous. But even fabulous careers have their pitfalls. For some Time Out Market Miami toques, these not-so-great moments were also some of the most embarrassing things to ever happen to them in a kitchen. Fortunately, they all lived to tell the tale and, in nearly every instance, the stories themselves made for a good laugh. Here, the truth behind being a chef—sometimes it burns your crotch, other times it makes you get naked and in numerous instances, it’s so damn messy.  

Cesar Zapata, Pho Mo, Arepitas Bar and Phuc Yea
“In culinary school, I was cutting jalapeños and took a break to go to the bathroom. When I came back, my privates started to burn and I had to run back to the bathroom. My instructor saw me and started laughing. He finally stopped laughing and asked, ‘Were you cutting hot chilis? Because if you were, you don’t touch yourself or wipe your eyes after.’ I learned my lesson. Depending on the chili, sometimes washing your hands doesn’t even help.”

Neil Sullivan, Hapa Kitchen & Eatery
“I started in the industry as a bartender and, one day, the restaurant I was working at was short servers so I pitched in. The very first table I ever served was a family that was visiting in town. I went to serve them their water and I dropped an entire tray of water on top of a six-year-old little boy, completely soaking him from head to toe. I was worried and didn’t know what to do so I took off my work shirt in the middle of the restaurant and gave it to him. I ran upstairs and asked the manager for a new shirt as I explained what happened. Confused, he asked 'Why did you give him your sweaty work shirt? Why didn't you offer him a brand new shirt?'” 

Suzy Battle, Azucar Ice Cream
“I made ice cream that sucked. I thought it was going to be a great flavor and it was a disgusting, non-edible thing. Thank god I tasted it first. It was a duck-fat soy sauce flavor that I later remade with brown sugar and gave to Richard Hales [of Sakaya Kitchen and Blackbrick Chinese], who now sells it. I made so much of it and went through so much trouble to get that duck fat, but it was terrible.”

Matt Kuscher, Kush Hospitality
“My wife and I worked together when we found out we were having a baby girl. She was bartending and I was managing the restaurant when we got the call and literally went idle for 30 minutes. We thought we were having a boy and just started laughing hysterically and couldn’t go back to work. It was the only time in my life I’ve ever stopped service.”

Norman Van Aken, Peace Pie
“I had to kick Prince Stefano of Monaco, husband to Princess Caroline, out of my kitchen at Louie’s Backyard for insulting one of my (female) cooking staff and for smoking in my kitchen as he did it. Prince Rainier was having dinner with the rest of the family and it was quite a scene as they all packed up and hurriedly left. I was both embarrassed yet also kind of blissfully happy to not be bullied by him.”

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