Cooking safety horror stories.

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Sous Chef
Dec 18, 2004
Body: Boston Heart: Mexico
So, which are the worse blunders you have made in the kitchen? What would you like to warn people against when it comes to using gadgets and cooking utensils? Here's mine:

First: Never beat something that’s in a pot of boiling water. I was once trying to thaw and stew some chicken pieces for mole and I tried breaking up some chunks that where frozen together with my knife. Yeah, If I could of seen myself from the outside I would of screamed at how stupid that was. Any way’s the pot tipped and went back into place sending a stream of boiling water that left a mark from my neck down to my crotch like one long boa tattoo. I looked like Sagat from street fighter. Worst thing is that the next day I had to go to a job interview in a 3 pieces suit on a super hot day and smelling of lotion… besides the pain and all that. Still got the job somehow.

Second: Hold the pan straight! Not long ago I was baking chicken in a cast iron skillet and accidentally tipped it a little sending some gravy into the oven. After the fireball that singed my arm hair disappeared we spent the afternoon scrubbing the oven so it would stop producing toxic greasy smoke.

Third: Never show off your knives to your roomate. I recently bought in Chinatown a huge meat cleaver which is sharp enough to slice through a playing card as if it wasent there. Even though I treat each and every one of my knives like a loaded shotgun, I’ve caught my roomie using it the wrong way or playing with it. After the most recent scolding I gave him (which feels weird since Im not even family) Im hoping he starts to respect it but otherwise I’ll keep an ice bucket handy.

Fourth: Don’t keep lighters in your pockets if you work a deep frier. It didn’t happen to me and thank god… a guy bent over a deep fryer and his bic lighter fell out and into the oil. Think a loud bang and burning grease everywhere.

Got any valuable life lessons (or horror stories) to teach us? Go ahead and post.

Oh yeah, one last one that I couldn’t have avoided but it’s the biggest scare I’ve gotten in a kitchen. I was working for a Cajun stand in a mall when I first got to the u.s. Any way’s at one point the wiring went up in the display (right after we closed thank god) and shot a ball of fire at me. I kinda ducked and rolled away (all that Kempo I’ve taken helped) but for a good 10 seconds it continued to shoot fire like a roman candle. Now Im sure that would of hurt me pretty bad… as it did burn through the metal surrounding the wires in order to shoot that fireball. The metal was all singed and melted, it was awesome but scary as heck.
Lugaru, sounds like you have had an exciting time in the kitchen! :shock:

OK, here's my piece of advice. Make sure that your chicken livers are completely thawed before frying them!! Back during the summer of this year, I decided at the last minute to fry some chicken livers. Well, I thought they were all thawed. I was scooping the next to last batch out of the deep fryer & one of them exploded sending hot grease up to cover my thumb. I dropped the scoop on the floor & went straight to the sink to run cold water over my hand. When I got done with that, I went to unplug the deep fryer & stepped on the greasy scoop & fell. Luckly I didn't hit the deep fryer! Well, I got myself up & the fryer unpluged & everything cleaned up. I coated my thimb with aloe & waited for hubby to get home so he could finish cooking the last batch of chicken livers. My thumb only peeled from the burn so I count myself very lucky.
Man that's got to hurt like heck. I'll think twice next time I add something juicy and frozen to oil. Btw I just remembered another one and discovered one by accident.

I just made Lunch and well I made spring rolls (cabbage and wassabi omelet filled), some steaks and rice with green curry. Here's some advice... imported spices dont say how hot they are like the american ones do. I grew up in mexico and this stuff still nuked my mouth... my roomate had tears running down his face and quoting ralph "even my boogers are spicy". Next time I need to taste the stuff before mixing it in with rice.

Any way's as for advice I used to work for an extremely cocky and irresponsible chef who was always doing stupid things like leaving knives in soapy water. Any way's one time he was trying to teach me how to sautee (which Im a master at but he was too cocky to notice) and flung a pan full of vodka sauce into his face. I ended up running and closing the station alone that night because I had to send my boss home. In other words, show offs end up in burn wards.
I will never forget the Thanksgiving that Dad was carving the turkey and almost amputated his thumb. He did fine removing the legs, thighs, and wings - but when he started to slice of the breast meat he made a major faux pas ... he was holding the side of the turkey with his left hand and carving with his right .... not normally a problem but instead of having his thumb parallel with his other fingers it was sticking out at a 90-degree angle - right in the path of the blade. It took three surgeries got get thumb working again and he never did get more than about 60% of the range of motion back because of the nerve and tendon damage.

My two sons grew up watching Saturday cooking shows on TV with me, and then the three of us spent a lot of time in the kitchen together. I won't say their mother was a bad cook - let's just say she made McDonalds look like gourmet dining - and she had no patience for kids in the kitchen. So, beside the fact they enjoyed spending time doing something with me they looked forward to weekends when we cooked together. I taught them all about kitchen safety ... how to handle sharp knives, how to respect hot items on the stove, that the kitchen was not a place for horse-play, etc. But, since they were too young to fry things in oil I haden't gotten around to discussing that. That was mistake #1, the second mistake was that I didn't have a kitchen fire extinguisher.

After my divorce the boys came to live with me .... and so we got to cook together every night. And, although they were just 9 and 10, they were getting pretty good at simple meals - and a great help prepping and assisting with more elaborate dishes. But, then the fateful Saturday when I had to work and my sons were home alone to watch cooking shows on their own ...

My youngest decided he would make me fried cheese sticks as a suprise for when I got home. He did his prep work and then put the skillet on the stove, filled it with oil, turned the burner on ... and then his mother called and he forgot all about it ... until his brother noticed the flames in the kitchen. They both panicked! They knew enough from cooking shows to know that you put out a grease fire with flour or baking soda ... or to throw a lid on it ... but there wasn't a lid for the cast iron skillet .... and the way they were throwing it the flour didn't smother the flames .. so they moved the skillet from the stove to the sink where they finally extinguished the fire with water, more flour, and beating the flames out with bath towels.

I walked in the door about 5-minutes after the flames were out. My oldest just looked at me and said, "I didn't do it!" - and my youngest was in a panic in the kitchen trying to mop up the grease on the floor ... spreading it all over the place. The cabinet by the stove was charred, there was grease everywhere. I'll never forget the look on his face ... he was white with fear and tears streaming down his face ... his gift to me from the bottom of his heart had turned into his first walk thru hell.

When he got married one of the wedding presents I gave him was a kitchen fire extinguisher. His wife looked at us kinda funny, like I was insulting her, but I assured her it was just an old family joke from long before he knew her - like our joking about Julia Child making rabbit for Easter one year ... long, long ago.
I have nothing as exciting as you guys have posted, but about four years ago, my daughter called me asking how I made the taco shells for tacos, so I told her small amount of oil in the skillet and add the tortillas, folded over and fry each side, and so on. About 10 minutes later she called frantically to ask how to put out a grease fire. Mind you she was 800 miles away at college. Speaking of going nuts. We got the fire extinguished, the pan was totaled and she has not cooked them again. Now I am living in the same city with her and have shown her the correct way. I do not know what she did as she does not want to talk about it. Singed the paint around the stove and she had to pay for it.
Most ultimate dumb move I ever diod in the kitchen and did it in front of my chef buddy. I cooked a pound of bacon up and drained the bacon. I left all the grease in the pan......then I tossed an egg in it and attempted to flip the egg. I wa cooking with my shirt off. Woweeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Took a few weeks for that to heal and I have permanent scars from it.
norgeskog, Michael in FtW... I was once woken up by a grease fire. That really messed me up. I was asleep and the Ex decided to boil some aromatic oils (without any water) in my favorite pan. I wake up in the middle of screaming, toxic smoke and flame like light coming out of the kitchen. For a half asleep dude I reacted pretty much ok... I walked calmly with the flaming pan and threw the burning oil into the bathtub. Then I dropped the pan in there and opened the shower curtain. Normally I would of just cut the air off but you know, half asleep and all.

And yeah, I lost a pan I loved too and our walls where black for a while...
Lugaru said:
norgeskog, Michael in FtW... I was once woken up by a grease fire. That really messed me up. I was asleep and the Ex decided to boil some aromatic oils (without any water) in my favorite pan. I wake up in the middle of screaming, toxic smoke and flame like light coming out of the kitchen. For a half asleep dude I reacted pretty much ok... I walked calmly with the flaming pan and threw the burning oil into the bathtub. Then I dropped the pan in there and opened the shower curtain. Normally I would of just cut the air off but you know, half asleep and all.

And yeah, I lost a pan I loved too and our walls where black for a while...

Real bummer, M FtW. hate stuff like that.
LOL crewsk ... did it wearing shorts a few times - you get used to little burning spots of flesh on your chest and stomach ..... wearing a bikini would have been a different story for another chat room ... :LOL:

One of the world's most dangerous jobs ... fry cook in a nudist camp ....
Michael, it was a very stupid mistake! I had been laying out in the sun & the kids wanted BLT's for lunch. I didn't wnt to change because I was going to go back outside. Well, I decided to put on a shirt about half way through cookig the bacon & I didn't go back outside to finish wrrking on my tan.
Mistake 1. 25 years ago I was renting a very old timber home, no stove. We had a small plugin oven with a hotplate on top that did not work. Yeah, times were tough.
We also used an electric frying pan for a lot of our cooking.
One Christmas I decided to make a pudding. The traditional one in the pudding cloth.
I used the electric frying pan as a hotplate and sat the boiler inside.
It was 4-6 hours slow simmer from memory. It was around 9pm when I started the cooking and we decided to watch a couple of videos while we were waiting.
Well, about 1.30 in the morning my wife and I woke up to a crackling noise and could smell smoke.
I raced into the kitchen to find flames licking up the timber walls. I can't remember how I put it out but being here to relate this, I must have.
What happened was, the thermostat apparently malfunctioned on the frying pan. The base was aluminium not stainless steel. The pan overheated resulting in the fryingpan base melting.
The molten aluminium dripped onto the wooden benchtop and up she went.
LESSON: Never use aluminium cookware and ALWAYS keep watch. This was a lesson that I did not heed for another disaster struck years later.

Mistake 2. One day I decided to make a curry. I put the onions and oil into the pot to fry up. Then the phone rang.
It was only a short call and when I finished I remembered that I needed to go to the shopping centre for something or other.
So off I went to the shopping centre and about 15 minutes later I asked myself the question, "Did I turn the stove off?"
I raced back home, opened the front door and could not see in front of me for the black smoke.
Not taking any precautions (although I had had some training) I raced into the kitchen, coughing and spluttering, saw the pot on fire and flames eating away the curtains and grabbed the pot with a teatowel I found and tried to take it outside, the flames just got worse with the movement and I dropped it on the linoleum floor, burning a large hole. I somehow managed to put the fire out.
The smell of smoke stayed around for 12 months. We had three carpet cleans to get the smell out of the carpet. We spent many hours cleaning the smoke blackened walls in each room. Our clothes in the wardrobes weren't immune either.

Do not get distracted for a moment when cooking with oil. Turn it off if you have to leave for what may be only a few seconds, it's easy to forget. The ironic thing here was, the lid for the pot was nearby and I could have put it on the pot to kill the flames. Panic.

Mistake 3. While I was sitting here posting and reading replies a couple of nights ago, I asked my wife if she could make me an icecream cone.
No probs as usual but she could not find the icecream scoop. So she brought the icecream tub and a ceramic Chinese soup spoon, like the ones in the restaurants. She said the icecream was too hard and could I scoop it out with the spoon.
No worries, I am the master of Chinese utensils. :LOL:
Well, there I was scooping with this spoon exuding a lot of pressure scraping the icecream towards me.
SNAP!! the spoon broke in half. I looked into the icecream tub and thought to myself 'this is supposed to be vanilla flavour not raspberry ripple'.
Then I looked at my right thumb and saw a flap of skin hanging from the first knuckle to the tip of my thumb.
I couldn't stop the bleeding and drove to the hospital, must have been on automatic pilot, and got seven stitches in it.
LESSON: Always use the right utensil for the job.

Like MiFW says, you aren't the first, and you certainly will not be the last!

While I am absolutely certain that I have done things at least as dumb (if not dumber!), not many are coming up out of the memory banks tonight, as I am avidly awaiting the arrivals of son and daughters tomorrow night, and the ensuing "big beef" well as subsequent "gourmet efforts" for the five days of the year we manage to be together...

Other than the year my Mom elected to "go back to work", as she wanted a dining room suite, a patio and a few other things my Dad's modest salary couldn't a result, us kids had to "learn how to do lunch", and PB+J got very boring, very quickly...

Not a big problem, except we had, at that date, a gas stove, so it was pretty obvious which burner you had turned on...

Subsequently, Mom bought an electric stove (must tag this on, its amusing!) and, in an attempt to make "porridge" for my father, I rested the paper bag of oatmeal on the rear burner, placed the water filled pot on the front, and activated the wrong switch...and of course, "strolled off" to watch TV, I suppose...returned to find a cold pot of water beside a gloriously aflame bag of oatmeal....fortunately, my parents were "forgiving"...

Mom was the second oldest of 13 children (what did you do in 1900's when the prairies were just opening up and settling in, when it got so freaking cold?), and her youngest brother "Ivor" (I expect they were running out of names!) was a bit of a "project"...anyways, she was working at the hospital on afternoons, and had instructed him how he could "cook" the very first version of "TV Dinner" in the oven, after whatever period of time, you ripped away the foil over the meat, so it got fully cooked from the frozen state of the offering's start...

So anyways, she's walking home from the bus stop, and who does she see, but her youngest brother, no hair, no eyebrows, almost literally "blackened and singed"...and very hungry...

Turns out that he had stuffed the frozen pan into the oven, "commanded" 400 degrees, and waited ten minutes...(forgetting to light the pilot light), and, after ten minutes is "astounded" by the smell and the frosted state of dinner...and is "prompted" to light a match for the pilot...


And a three hour wait, for "someone competent" to a cook, Ivor has difficulties with sandwiches...

Ok, here's the two that I can remember.

1) I used to work in a fast-food ice cream / hamburger / grocery chain. About 12 years ago, that chain started doing breakfast to compete with the other chains. Being in the South, you have to have Biscuits and Gravy (I think it's a law somewhere :) ). Well, we used a mix, made from what I now know to be dehydrated milk, preactivated corn starch, salt, pepper, and a few other things. We would chop up some sausage patties, fill three coffeepots with extremely hot water, and add all this, plus three gravy packets, to a large pot that would fit in a steam kettle. Well, the water came out of the hot water spigot on the coffee machine, usually at about 180°F. I had made a pot of gravy, and in the process of transporting into the steam kettle to keep it warm, I managed to drop the pot. Now, it only dropped a few inches from my hands onto the counter, but, it was enough of a drop to make some gravy splash up and onto my face. OUCH!

2) Always know where your fingers are when you're working with a knife. I was cutting some bread for croutons with a serrated knife, and wasn't paying attention to where my thumb was. I found out really quickly, when I managed to tag the tip of my thumb, removing a little of the thumbnail, and almost sliced the skin off the tip. That one required three stitches.

Most cooks are extremely safety-minded. We work with hot, heavy, and extremely sharp equipment. I'm always asking for help with I'm moving a big pan full of boiling water when I'm cooking shrimp or draining cooked pasta. If I notice someone needs something up high, I help. Same if someone else needs help moving a heavy load. We always tell someone when we're behind them, or call out "Hot pan!" when we're moving something hot.

Of course, I've managed to burn myself, and cut myself, so much that small "scratches" and minor first-degree burns rarely get noticed. Of course, I have to be careful with cuts, if they're oozing blood, you've got to keep it bandaged until it heals. And, it seems like I always manage to nick a finger more often than anything else.
I remembered another thing. I was making a large pineapple cass. one day for a family thing & I used one of those foil pans. Well, as I was taking the cass. out of the oven, the foil pan bent & spilled hot, sugary pineapple cass down the front of my legs. Luckily I was wearing a long rather loose fitting skirt at the time of it would have been all over my legs. I learned from that to always use a cookie sheet under those pans when cooking in them. They bend really easily when they get hot.
Crewsk, maybe you need to ask Santa for a very thick, steel-backed apron.

I've done stupid stuff in the kitchen, but have forgotten most as I've gotten older. The dumbest food thing that scarred me is a marshmallow. How many of you have a scar from a marshmallow? My sister & I used to get out the metal coat hangers and bend 'em for cooking in the big flagstone fireplace Dad had made. Well, there I am, about 8 years old, enjoying my charred mallows, and *pop*! One explodes, leaving a sugary mess on top of my hand. It's tiny now, but that did keep me from "cooking" for a while! After that, we stuck to melting down crayons on the fireplace.

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