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. Miss a question? Go here.
Screams. Blood. Gore. No, it's not your favorite spooky movie. It's just another day in the kitchen at restaurants throughout the country.
Which is why Halloween seems a most appropriate day to ask Valley chefs and restaurateurs to sit around the fire and tell us their most horrifying kitchen accident tales.
Eric Flatt, Co-owner, Tonto Bar & Grill and Cartwright's Sonoran Ranch House
I was doing an ice carving for Columbus Day -- a three-block-tall sailboat. I was doing some final touches with my chainsaw and the tallest sail broke. I let go of the chainsaw with one hand and tried to catch the sail as it was falling. I did catch it, but it was so heavy that my hand came down on top of the still-running chainsaw. I wrapped up my hand and headed to the ER for lots and lots of stitches. I was lucky that I didn't lose any fingers, but my hand looked like hamburger.
Chris Osborn, Owner, Cadillac Ranch
On our cameras, I saw two cooks get into what started as a play fight and ended in one of the cooks stabbing the other in the thigh. It was the bloodiest wound I'd ever seen because he was stabbed in the femoral artery. It was horrible and one of them earned a felony for turning horseplay into a crime.
Brent Shinyeda General Manager, BLD Chandler
One of the cooks in our company slipped walking down the hot line. She tried to catch herself, but only caused the deep fryer to flip over on top of her.
Michael Rusconi, Chef and Owner, Rusconi's American Kitchen
In most hotels, there is a piece of equipment called a Buffalo Chopper. One of the cooks put his hand in it to move some parsley through. He holds his knife differently now -- with three fingers.
Danielle Leoni, Chef and Co-Owner, The Breadfruit
We serve these chilled, sweet young coconuts. When somebody orders one, it gets sent back to the kitchen and we chop the top off, so you can drink out of it. Our sous chef turned his head to answer a question with the cleaver in hand and "whack!" The tip of his finger was dangling! We bandaged it up, iced, and sewed it.
Chef Peter DeRuvo, Davanti Enoteca
While bandsaw-butchering, I saw a guy's hand get sawed in half. Not the best memory; however, it made me respect the saw even more and the precautions and safety measures that are in place.
Chef Ehren Litzenberger, BLD Chandler
The bloodiest kitchen accident I have witnessed was when a cook sliced off his knuckle down to the bone.
Mark Dow, General Manager, The Mint
One time a cook dropped a knife from a container behind me and it hit my heel, just missing my Achilles tendon. As a result, I have limited feeling in my right heel and I know to never have my back turned to a cook with a knife.
Bernie Kantak, Chef and Partner, Citizen Public House
I was helping a bartender friend do a demo at a tequila festival and he had the entire crowd around his booth watching as he mixed cocktails with various tropical fruits. We had a few coconuts and he decided to crack a couple open. With one coconut in hand held about chest high and a huge vegetable cleaver being swung at said coconut lumberjack style, he cracked the first one open. On the second, he wasn't quite so lucky. The blade slipped off the side of the coconut and through skin, muscle, and right into the bone of his thumb. I had my back turned at the time, but he tapped me on the shoulder and said quite calmly, "Hey, can you pour some drinks? I cut myself." I asked to see it, and for the first time in my life, I said, "Dude, you need to go to the hospital." It was pretty horrific.
Lisa Khnanisho, Owner, Tryst Café
While I was at home preparing to slice avocados, I remembered watching a trick on how to de-seed one using a knife. I tried to outsmart the knife. The knife won. I stabbed through my hand just under my forefinger. Eighteen stitches later, no more knife tricks for me and I haven't eaten an avocado since.
Chef Eric Ramirez, Culinary Dropout
I sliced the tip of my finger off! It was the dumbest thing I have ever done.
Zach Bredemann, Corporate Chef, Kona Grill
While I was opening a restaurant, I witnessed a chef completely cut off the tip of his finger using the meat slicer. He actually tried to put the flesh back on, wrap it up, and continue to try to work. Eventually, he conceded and went to the hospital. After a few hours in the emergency room, they reattached his fingertip and he was able to return to the restaurant and continue to help out!
Steve Freidkin, Owner, TexAz Grill
Many years ago while working at Victoria Station in Chicago, I almost cut off my index finger after it slid down the length of a 12-inch carving knife.