15 Metro Phoenix Chefs and Restaurateurs Share Their Worst Thanksgiving Nightmares

Thanksgiving: A time to enjoy friends, family, turkey, and small kitchen fires.
Thanksgiving: A time to enjoy friends, family, turkey, and small kitchen fires.

We can all relate to a Thanksgiving horror story -- the time your mom forgot to turn on the oven or the deep fryer blew. But it's different at a chef's house, right? Think again. We've been talking to some of Valley's top chefs and restauranteurs and they've got some stories that are going to make you feel very good about yourself -- and your Thanksgiving table. You're welcome.

See also: 25 Thanksgiving Dinner Tips from Valley Chefs

Chef T - Chef, Sage Kitchen A few years ago, I was making Thanksgiving dinner with friends. My buddy who was on potato-peeling duty tried to stuff all of the potato peels down the garbage disposal. The whole thing seized up and dirty water started to back-up into the sink. We spent the whole day trying to find a plumber who was on duty and pulling disgusting potato peels out of the sink. We never even finished cooking the meal.

Cullen Campbell - Chef, Crudo I fell asleep once while the meal was baking, only to wake up two hours later to the smell of a burnt holiday.

Joey Bruneau - Executive Chef, Nabers The dishwasher breaking down!

Jared Porter - Chef/Owner, The Clever Koi My biggest "disaster" was when I was working at a hotel. We had gotten our turkeys in and our receiving agent saw that they were frozen, like most hotels get them. He assumed they needed to stay frozen. Once we noticed that they weren't thawing in the walk-in, it was a mad dash to get them ready for the thanksgiving festivities.

Brian Peterson - Executive Chef, Earnest One year, my mom cooked the turkey in the plastic bag it came in.

Deborah Schneider - Executive Chef, SOL Mexican Cocina My sister-in-law once basted a bird for four hours with a mixture of butter and honey, and served a coal-black, but surprisingly tasty, 20-pounder to the astonished family.

Jeffrey Amber - Chef, Forge Pizza Moving into a new house and not realizing the oven didn't work properly until it was too late. I ended up butchering the whole bird and made it work.

Patrick Karvis - Executive Chef, TapHouse Kitchen One year at this hotel I was working at, it was my first sous chef job. The p.m. crew made the giblet gravy and did not cool it down properly. When it came time to start the gravy in the morning for our 300 plus guests on Thanksgiving Day, I walked into the cooler and noticed the gravy was bubbling over. It was bad. That was a nightmare trying to remake gravy with what little turkey bones and chicken stock we had.

Christopher Gross - Executive Chef/Owner, Christopher's and Crush Lounge Not really a disaster, but I was cooking for my family and was making my mom's noodles that she made for me every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Instead of preparing for 30 people, I ended up with three times what I need. But they were great as leftovers, so I cut them up into one-inch pieces and fried them in butter like spaetzle.

Chris Hove - Owner, Perfect Pear Bistro One holiday, I underestimated the cook time on the turkey. A couple hours after expected dinner, we were full of all of the sides and appetizers, and pretty drunk from drinking on empty stomachs.

 

Brian Konefal - Chef/Owner, Coppa Cafe I was reducing the gravy and it was close to being ready. The turkey was out of the oven, all was ready. We have a "tradition" in the kitchen of sharing a bottle of wine straight from the bottle. You know, "neckin' it," only amongst the kitchen staff when the food is ready. That year, we must have had some extra help, because a second bottle was opened. Maybe we were just thirsty. I had left the heat on the gravy and I burnt the bottom. I really scorched it. It tasted smoky and terrible. We drank more wine and forgot about it.

Kody Harris - Executive Chef, Thirsty Lion Pub & Grill As a young cook, I was all ready to prepare a prime rib for my family. Well, I followed the recipe, but after four hours it was still raw throughout, but nice and crisp on the outside. That is when I learned the difference between a regular oven and convection. But my side dishes were great!

Christopher Collins - Chef/Owner, Grassroots Kitchen & Tap Besides the in-laws having too much to drink? I remember one year my sister was in charge of the turkey and didn't know it would take hours to defrost. We cooked the turkey anyway, because we had nothing else in the house to substitute. I think the only cooked part was the leg and drum, but everything else was still raw. We cut the turkey into small pieces and finished it on the grill.

Gio Osso - Executive Chef/Owner, Virtu Let's put it this way, you always need to make sure your oven is on in order for the turkey to cook. Don't wait three hours to find out it's not. Enough said.

Julie Moreno - Owner, Jewel's Bakery and Café I think that the worst thing ever is to overcook the turkey. There is a fine line between a moist, succulent turkey and dry pasty turkey. I have felt like I ruined the whole dinner with an overcooked bird. Brine, brine, brine, and bake it to 160 degrees.

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