Kitchen Nightmares

Each week I try to bring you new, or at least interesting, ideas that I hope inspire you to try them in your own kitchen. Many of these recipes are things I’ve personally made at least once before I’ve ever considered writing about it. With each post I try to make them as polished as possible, but behind the scenes there is occasionally chaos.

While I have no formal training in the kitchen I like to think that I have above average skills and I’m never afraid to try new techniques out. For the most part I think I succeed, because unless something comes out completely scorched at least I get to eat my mistakes.

Last year another food blogger and fellow Charlottean had a post chronicling her kitchen flops. And ever since reading her post I’ve wanted to write about this myself but other ideas have always gotten in the way. However, I’ve finally managed to get my thoughts together and without further adieu I present my worst personal kitchen nightmare:

My wife and I had been dating for a couple of months at the time. She had been bragging to two of her friends about how great (her words, not mine) of a cook I was. The end result of her boasting was me cooking for the three of them dinner at my condo a few weeks later.

I don’t remember the complete menu, but there was a salad type appetizer and creme brulee for dessert. The main entree was going to be a stuffed beef tenderloin with a filling that included shrimp and crawfish.

By the time the ladies arrived at my place most of the prep work was complete, the creme brulees were chilling in the ice box and the salad washed and prepped. Earlier that day I had picked up the tenderloin from my butcher who butterflied it for me.

Hellos were exchanged, wine was poured and I turned my attention to some final chopping and slicing to get the filling for the tenderloin in process. While I was engaged in some small talk and mincing a shallot the smoke detector began to wail.

In a panic I looked behind me at the stove only to realize I had neglected the bacon rendering in a pan I had inadvertently left on high heat. With my eyes still fixed on the smoldering bacon I directed the ladies to open windows, turn on the ceiling fan and wave a towel in front of the detector to silence it.

Only then did I realize my hands were still chopping away as I ran my santoku straight through the top of my thumb.

As the ladies feverishly worked to get the smoke detector to shut up I became preoccupied with stopping the bleeding and avoiding the contamination of dinner. When the girls realized what I had done there was a mad scramble to help, including figuring out where I might store band aids, if I even had any. This was the home of a bachelor, you know.

While they dispersed to search the bathrooms for first aid I supplies, I plied myself with wine to dull the pain and embarrassment.

After polishing off my syrah I took a deep breath, regrouped and started making the filling all over again. The rest of the night went off without the hitch and dinner was well received.

Since that day there have been many kitchen nightmares – tasteless gourgeres, over-scalded creams and other self inflicted knife injuries – but it is all part of the experience and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

To paraphrase the immortal Shane Falco: “Pain heals, chicks dig scars, glory in the kitchen lasts forever”.

Do you have a kitchen nightmare you’d like to share?

Come back next week for the next episode of Digital Dads in the Kitchen for our St. Patrick’s Day special.

Photo credit: Gordon Ramsay Submissions on Flickr

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PJ Mullen is a stay at home dad, husband, amateur chef, craft beer enthusiast, prolific air drummer and the Stig in a minivan. Currently in between blogs, PJ has been littering the Internet with his drivel since 2006 when he started a account and blogged about a home renovation project. That proved to be a gateway drug to self-hosting where he went on to blog about football, his life as a stay at home dad and his culinary adventures. While he chooses a new domain to sully, he can be found here at Digital Dads writing about food and craft beer. He was a member of the Bumble Bee Foods "Bee Squad" from 2011 to 2012, contributed to Man of the House, was a member of the Shared Tastes Panel at Ready Set Eat, has worked with several brands including Sony, RedEnvelope, Conair, Lands End and Baby Brezza, and won the 2010 Perdue Verifiably Good Video Contest.

4 Responses to “Kitchen Nightmares”

  1. Robert Rob Rosenthal Says:

    Good one, PJ. Been there. RR

  2. Ann Adams95340 Says:

    My friend, that’s about the time I would have called out for Chinese. Good for you in persevering.

    I’m almost 73 and have more disasters than I could possibly remember (like ending up with a gallon of gravy trying to get the liquid and thickener proportions correct and forgetting to remove the giblets from the turkey before cooking. I’ve improved over the years but the dumbest thing I’ve ever done was trying to reheat an entire pot of coffee in the microwave (forgetting about the metal band around the carafe). Last night the phone rang and I almost but not quite burned the brownies.

  3. Kitchen Nightmares Says:

    [...] polished as I try to be there is occasionally chaos behind the scenes. Kitchen Nightmares this week over at Digital Dads. (function() {var s = document.createElement('SCRIPT'), s1 = [...]

  4. Carol D. Says:

    Good to hear that you’re doing fine now. It could have been worse. I have my fair share of kitchen accidents but I don’t think there’s enough space here. Keep safe!

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