Culinary disasters of the famous

mess in the kitchen

We’ve all experienced kitchen disasters – burnt roasts, boil-overs, mistaken ingredients, equipment malfunctions, stock poured down the drain, and so on. It can be comforting to know that we’re in good company, as The Guardian shows us in its story on culinary disasters of famous food writers and other celebrities.

In the article, the stars often relate their embarrassing experiences in their own words. Gwyneth Paltrow recounts an incident involving undercooked aubergines: “I didn’t know that when you cook eggplant, you first have to sweat it to get all the bitter juice out, and I didn’t realise that you also have to bread eggplant parmesan and fry it before. So I put slices of raw eggplant with jarred tomato sauce and mozzarella. And everyone threw up.”

Chef José Pizarro recounts an incident with a mixer that most bakers will probably understand. “The first time I made chocolate cake, I put everything into the mixer and it exploded,” says the chef. “It turned out the lid wasn’t on properly.” Heat and timing, not equipment, were factors in Jay Rayner‘s cooking disaster.  He was making pork scratchings in the oven before a dinner party. Says Rayner, “They just burned, literally carbonised – it was a black, gluey mess.”

I’ll admit to carbonising caramel on more than one occasion, leaving a mess that took days to scrape out of the pan. Are you willing to share your embarrasing kitchen moments?

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  • hillsboroks  on  February 2, 2015

    I still have not lived down the chocolate raspberry birthday cake I made for my daughter's birthday last year. She had requested a chocolate raspberry cake so I decided to use one from an old Bon Appetit magazine that looked great. Unbeknowst to me there was a major error in the recipe. It called for 2 1/3 cups boiling water instead of the correct amount of 2/3 cup of boiling water. It also called for three kinds of expensive chocolate. I thought the batter was pretty thin but put it in the pans and into the oven. But it didn't rise much or look done when the baking time was up so I went online to see what kind of comments there were and quickly realized the error in the magazine version. But other cooks said it ended up like brownies and still tasted good so I kept baking it and made the frosting. The finished cake was not as tall as the photo but the frosting was sublime so I figured I was still OK. I didn't want to throw out all that good chocolate and didn't have time to start over. Big mistake! The cake was like rubber so we all took photos, had a good laugh and scraped the frosting off before we dumped the cake into to garbage. Luckily my new neighbor who just graduated from culinary school had given me some of her unfrosted chocolate cupcakes that we put some of the salvaged frosting on along with a candle. My daughter posted the photos on her Facebook page with the caption "Major cake fail on my birthday".

  • pokarekare  on  February 4, 2015

    I tried to flame the brandy for the Christmas pudding on the stove top while the extractor fan was going [it was a hot day downunder]. Unfortunately I didn't realise that the fan had a filter of charcoal pellets held in by a nylon mesh. Result – mesh melted, and charcoal pellets rained down into the brandy, and on to the pudding and also the leftover turkey, which was sitting beside the stove top!

  • slimmer  on  February 5, 2015

    My husband and I still laugh over our attempt to cook a steak dinner together. He wasn't watching the steaks in the broiler and they ended up well done and rubbery. I, meanwhile, tried to make mashed potatoes in the food processor and ended up with glue. The dogs had a good meal the next couple of nights.

  • Poppyseedbagel  on  March 1, 2015

    My mother used to use old 1kg salt containers to store other ingredients, including castor sugar (fine sugar used in baking – not so fine as icing sugar). It looks quite a lot like salt if you're not experienced.

    So… When I was 15 I made a chocolate cake using salt not castor sugar.

    At university we used to buy ingredients like cornflour, sugar and bicarbonate of soda cheaply in plastic bags – the product was identified on a paper & wire tag round the neck.

    So… A friend who was not a confident cook was doing a big meal for a number of people, and cooking a chicken stew which required thickening with cornflour right at the end, and (inevitably?) used bicarbonate of soda by mistake. She called for my help – the bicarbonate had reacted with acid in the stew and the stew was erupting all over the stove. Like a big brown volcano. All I could think to do was add vinegar to counteract the bicarbonate. This calmed it down and it didn't taste too bad, considering.

    I label ingredients very clearly these days.

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