Kitchen Confessional: What happens in restaurant kitchens

I hear stories about what happens in kitchens. We even started a blog on it, Kitchen Confessional, but it was difficult to sustain and it got merged with barfblog.

Matthew Evans has heard a lot of stories. Evans, who was the chief restaurant reviewer for the Herald for five years and whose autobiography, Never Order Chicken On A Monday, includes a sometimes-frightening look inside restaurant kitchens, writes in the Sydney Morning Herald that with poop allegedly being served in ice cream at the Coogee Bay Hotel, everyone in Australia is talking.

Evans says most Sydney food is great, cooked well and served with care. But a tiny minority of restaurants are incredibly dangerous.

“Some of the milder things that go on in NSW restaurants include chefs visiting the dunnies in their aprons. Or dipping odiferous chicken breasts in a mild bleach solution to whiten them and eliminate the smell. But when I went on Sydney radio to talk about these kinds of things last year, the comments turned even the hairs on my neck.

"Seeing the chef sitting on the toilet as they peeled prawns, perhaps? The slightly dodgy drip tray from the pub being used in the beer batter? The chef wiping the steak inside their Y-fronts or running it around the rim of the toilet because the customer had complained that their medium-cooked steak was still pink? It has happened.

"As an apprentice I’ve been asked to take leathery-skinned pre-opened oysters, too old and whiffy to offer as natural, and top them with mornay sauce and sell them. I’ve been witness to steaks stamped on with heavy boots and retrieved from the bins, and met people who’ve dipped food in the toilet before serving it, but I’ve never seen someone pick their nose and put it in food.

"Of course I’ve seen chefs over-season food because it was off, using it in curries and the like," says one Sydney chef I spoke to who did not want to be named.

"But the worst thing I’ve ever seen with my own eyes was in England. This guy always came in late. He’d order sea bass every night right on last orders at 11.30pm and then send it back and ask for it to be recooked.

"One day [the chef] did a huge hock and put a great big greenie under it. The customer reckoned it was the best sea bass ever."