Welcome to Chow Bella's Bites & Dishes, where Valley chefs and restaurateurs respond to a question New Times food critic Laura Hahnefeld has on her mind. Have a question you'd like to ask? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
It's happened to all of us at one time or another: an incident with food that's scarred us for life. Perhaps it was a bug-studded salad or a pizza topped with fingernails. And raisins? Those ain't raisins.
What stories do Valley chefs and restaurateurs have to share regarding their traumatic run-ins with food? I asked a few and this is what they had to say:
Chef Anthony Rivera District American Kitchen & Wine Bar
I was working in a high-end restaurant, and one of the visiting sous chefs was making black truffle risotto. He had the risotto in a mixing bowl and instead of using a spoon to mix and taste the dish, he stirred the rice with his hand and ate the food off of his fingers. After tasting the dish, he flung the remaining risotto back into the bowl, mixed it up again with the hand he had put in his mouth, and then served the meal to the dining room. I was disgusted beyond belief and will never order risotto again.
Chef Stephen Toevs The Ritz-Carlton, Phoenix
Pig brains. A few years back, we used to get in whole pigs to make head cheese, and some of the dishwashers would cook the brain and spread it on toast. One day, they persuaded me to try it. Let's just say it was an interesting experience.
Chef Joe Meyers, s.e.e.d. café at the Madison Improvement Club
English muffins and Commuter [sandwiches] at La Grande Orange. Made approximately 500,000 during my time there. Enough said.
Dave Andrea Owner, Brat Haüs
I can't tell you, because we currently serve it by special request.
Chef Jeremy Pacheco, Lon's at the Hermosa
There was a while when I was a prep cook that I could not handle the smell of scallops. That mainly came from having a bad hangover one morning and my chef gave me three tubs of scallops to clean. It took quite a while to get through cleaning them.
Brian Dooley Chef and Owner, Bryan's Black Mountain Barbecue
Definitely meatloaf -- I just can't stand the stuff! Everything about it turns me off: the name, the shape. The problem is that everyone, and I mean everyone, thinks they have the recipe that's going to change my mind.
Takeshi Triniapoli Corporate Sushi Chef, Kona Grill
I have not been traumatized by a cooked dish, but I refuse to set foot in a slaughterhouse of any kind. I love animals, but I also love the way they taste. I'm afraid if I witness the slaughtering process firsthand, I will unintentionally become a vegetarian.
Eric Flatt, Co-owner, Tonto Bar & Grill/Cartwright's Sonoran Ranch House
Goat adobo. I was the executive sous chef at the Lodge at Pebble Beach, and we had a lot of Filipino employees. One night, I went to a party after work and they had goat adobo. Now, I really like adobo, but this guy whacked a fresh goat from a neighbor and cooked it up. It was just plain nasty. Plus, he kept making it and bringing it in to work for me to try. I would smile, take a bite, and then walk away and spit.
Pauline Martinez, Chef and Owner, Perk Eatery
I was traumatized by Chinese food for many years due to a severe case of food poisoning. I've since gotten over it -- and gratefully so, since I love Asian cuisine.
Farah Khalid Chef and Owner, Curry Corner
Once, I went to a restaurant and ordered the beef shanks, which, in their description, promised to be nothing short of marvelous. I have never had something so awful in my life. There was no seasoning or flavor. The meat was not cooked appropriately. I could not finish the meal, never went back to that restaurant ever again, and never wanted it at any other restaurant.
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Josh Hebert Owner and Chef, Posh
There's no food I've been traumatized by, but I'm not a ketchup fan -- for no other reason than I just don't like it. If I'm sharing a plate of fries with someone and they pour ketchup all over it, it's over for me.