Dessert arrived: the chef's famous checkerboard cake, resting on a plate artfully drizzled with what appeared to be dark chocolate sauce. My wife dove in with her fork, took her first bite and then froze, mouth full. Her expression morphed from puzzlement to shocked recognition to a sour grimace.
In the kitchen, someone had mistakenly set the cake onto a plate meant for an entree, a plate drizzled with a zigzag pattern of ... soy sauce.
When you bring together human beings and food, things will occasionally slip off the rails. Food and/or people may go flying. Entrees or objects or apparel may be drenched or set ablaze (neckties catching fire are apparently so commonplace that they aren't even noteworthy to restaurant veterans). Live edible critters may get loose to skitter for their lives across the dining-room floor. It can happen anywhere, from the corner beanery to the four-star culinary palace. The culprits are wait staff, cooks, managers and, all too often, us: the dining public.
For a larf, we asked local restaurateurs, chefs and servers to share some of their funnier stories from the dining trenches the faux pas, pratfalls and gaffes they've witnessed that keep the business from ever being just another day on the job.
|Pick up the October 2001 issue of Cleveland Magazine to read more hilarious anecdotes all true about Northeast Ohio restaurants.
The Naked Chefs
Many people called to mind the oftentimes nonchalantly bizarre behavior of their colleagues in the food trade.
Moe Schneider, owner of Moe's in Cuyahoga Falls, has discovered that sometimes it's best not to ask any questions of her staff. About six months after her restaurant opened, Schneider and her executive chef took time off to visit a food expo. When they returned, they found all of the line chefs down in the restaurant's basement prep room wearing nothing but their aprons.
"Oh, you guys are so fired," she managed. "I'll hire you back when you get dressed."
Beyond that, she asked nothing and was told nothing, which suits her fine.
Oh, Eyes See . . .
Something as basic as language frequently proves a stumbling block in a biz with so many international influences. Tim Bando, executive chef at Blake's Seafood Grill in Chagrin Falls, remembers interacting at a previous restaurant with a host of servers for whom English was a second tongue.
One busboy still getting a handle on English came to Bando with a puzzle. He held up an ice cube. "Tim, how you say thees?"
"Ice," Bando explained.
The young man then pointed to his own eyes and repeated, "Tim, how you say thees?"
The busboy stared at Bando in dismay: "Ice! Eyes! Oh, I will never learn thees language!"
One hopes the kid got his vocabulary straight before he ever graduated to taking drink orders.