Recently, I asked the servers and chefs of the Community to anonymously share the kitchens they worked in that were terrible, horrible, no good, and very bad. Needless to say, you’ll have a hard time trusting after reading these.
“Just started at a fancy diner, and the owner was getting ready to make the giant coffee brewer which would last most of the day. When he went to put the big bag of fresh coffee grinds, the bag broke, and it all landed on the floor.
“He asked me to sweep them up, and as I was done — ready to toss it in the trash, he grabbed the huge dustpan from me and put it all in the brewer, not caring that the floor and the dustpan were dirty. I looked at him and said, ‘I can’t work here. … Goodbye.'”
“On my second shift, I was asked to strain the soy sauce. … I realized I was straining out fruit flies! Dozens of them. Absolutely disgusted, I finished my shift and never went back.”
“I worked at a bar once where the owner failed to pay the gas bill, and the hot water was shut off. They continued to stay open and washed all the glasses in cold dirty water all day.
“On my shift, I used the coffee machine to warm up a pot of hot water to wash glasses, but no one else was doing that! All around, it was a shady place, and I quit soon after.”
“I worked as a busboy at a local ‘fancy’ restaurant in high school. They’re pretty known for their fresh bread and croutons, and every table gets served bread with a bowl of Parmesan cheese and butter.
“When we cleared the tables, the unused butter packages were put in a bowl, the cheese (which I regularly saw children put their whole hands in) was put in a big bowl to be reserved, and the bread would go in a brown paper bag to be made into croutons the next day. Horrific work environment, and I didn’t stay long.”
“Not too long ago, I worked at a pizza chain where they stored aprons and towels for kitchen use in the restroom. If anyone ever stepped out of the store with an apron on, it was to be changed for a ‘clean’ one from the restroom. I left that job real quick.”
“I worked at a restaurant once that did breakfast only on the weekends. On a Sunday morning, I dumped out and washed a coffee pot that had been left out the night before.
“The owner caught me and asked what I was doing. I explained, and he scolded me for wasting coffee, and told me to reheat it in the microwave. I didn’t last long there.”
“When I was 15, I worked at my first ever job at a donut shop. It was almost time to close, and we were throwing away all the donuts that were leftover into the trash can. Someone came in right before we closed, maybe two minutes before locking our doors.
“I told the customer we unfortunately had no more for the night, but the boss came and told the customer they might have more in the back. I followed him into the back and saw him physically grab the donuts out of the trash can and put them back onto the tray to give to the customer. I literally was shocked.
“When the customer left, my boss had the audacity to yell at me and told me we could’ve lost a customer if we didn’t sell them the THROWN AWAY donuts. I was left speechless and quit ASAP.”
“I had already had several years of restaurant experience, so my initial training was abbreviated. My first night on the line, the line supervisor pulled a pan from the warming oven, removed the cover, and promptly dropped the pan, face down on the floor.
“Unbelievably, he scooped the dish back into the pan and placed the pan on the steam table. When I told him he can’t serve that anymore, he informed that that’s how things were done there. I went to the general manager about it, and he just shrugged his shoulders. I quit, then and there!”
“I work at a fast food chain, and one of the managers said it was okay to pour expired milk into the ice cream machine because no one could tell the difference. I soon quit after.”
“My sister and I both worked at a well-known, fairly high-end steakhouse. My sister was hosting, and I was serving one night, and she had to run back to the kitchen for some reason. When she got back there, she saw the chef drop a t-bone steak on the WET, freshly bleached floor. He picked it back up, rinsed it off, and threw it back on the grill. We both quit pretty soon after.”
“On this particular day, there were complaints of dirty dishes coming back (from the previous [dishwasher]). One of the servers brought a dish back, wiped it with a rag in the sink full of chicken, and took it back…. I called in and quit right before my next shift, and called the health department on them.”
“I worked at a restaurant that had great homemade soups. One day, I made a batch of beer cheese soup that I was very proud of. I cooled it down properly, wrapped it up, and put it in the walk-in cooler. The next day, I came in to find two little legs and a tail from a mouse that got into the soup overnight and died in the soup.
“I went to throw it out, but my chef said to heat it up, and the heat would get rid of any contaminates. Needless to say, I quit that night and gave an anonymous tip to the local department of health.”
“I worked at a high-end restaurant that served the most deliciously authentic lobster bisque. The chef prided himself on his bisque, and people came from all over to order it. It was pretty pricey, too.
“One night, there was a customer who was being a jerk. Nothing could have pleased this man. He complained about everything. He demanded to speak with the chef. After remaking his food twice, the chef came out.
“The customer went on and on saying, ‘I am so pissed; I am so pissed,’ then ultimately, ended up telling him his bisque was from a can. … Chef tried to calm the man down, and offered to bring him a fresh cup of lobster bisque now that his main meal was prepared to his liking.
“Back in the kitchen…the chef pees (just a little) in this man’s cup of bisque. He said, and I quote, ‘Now, you go tell him he has every right to say he is pissed.’ Sounds like a joke, right? I assure you it is not.
“It was my customer, and the chef handed that cup to me, demanding I serve it to my customer. Every server wanted to take it out if I was too scared to do it. I knew if I just walked out and quit, the man would have been served the bisque, and he would have consumed it.
“So, I walked out to the table, and I told him quietly that if I were him, I wouldn’t touch it. I also warned him not to consume anything else from the kitchen or bar, not even a cup of water. I told him his bill had been comped, and not to worry about leaving me a tip.
“I went straight to the bar, settled out, and quit. I was walking, and my customer came running up behind me. He said, ‘I’m not even going to ask you what he did to my soup, but it must’ve been really bad.’ He then handed me $500 and gave me a hug.”
“I worked at a pizza place as a teenager and had a boss who cleaned EVERYTHING with straight bleach, including every food surface. This bleach wasn’t washed off with water; it was just wiped off like a regular disinfectant.
“It hurts to think about how much bleach touched the food. … There was also an absurd amount of mold in there, and I was bullied into quitting when I started making a fuss about it.”
Finally, “When I was a teenager in the ’90s, I worked at a breakfast spot in a tourist town in Maryland. During my training shift to be a server, the server training showed me a trick to speed up side work at the end of the shift.
“While filling the condiments, she would unscrew the salt shakers that were low, lick her finger, and rub it along the inside, then shake it so it appeared full. Incredibly gross and not very time saving. I quit after that summer.”