Cooking is a process of applying heat to a food item to increase palatability, to enhance flavour, tenderise, caramalise and even kill off bacteria.
Unfortunately this simple process can rapidly and dramatically turn into a disaster of Titanic proportions.
As experienced as I may be in the kitchen, I’m still capable of destroying food. And the most common disaster I have is getting distracted and burning things.
But it doesn’t just stop at burning the food. I have burnt myself too many times to count – I’ve even burnt other people (only a couple of times).
I once pulled a roasting tray out from the top shelf of an oven. The 8kg pork leg shifted in the tray and over balanced. Searing hot fat from the tray ran down my arm and into the boot of a kitchen hand standing behind me.
We both screamed, he jumped into the washing up sink and I followed him by showering us with the washing up hose – pity it had just been used for hot water, because our first few seconds of water came out scolding hot.
Lucky for me, the kitchen hand didn’t knock my block off, as there is a rule in the kitchen that you must always announce when you ‘re standing directly behind someone (which he neglected to do).
On another occasion I was removing a 40 Lt pot of sauce from a gas stove. Unbeknown to me, the tea towel I was using to hold the hot handles had touched the flame and set on fire.
Halfway across the kitchen I felt a painful sensation accompanied by the pungent smell of burning arm hair.
An apprentice said, “You’re on fire dude!” To which I said “Thanks for letting me know Einstein”!
I wasn’t prepared to drop the pot with my precious sauce and ran to a bench under excruciating pain.
The only problem was I had picked up so much momentum that the pot slid across the bench and fell off the other side.
The genius apprentice turned to me and said, “Why didn’t you just stop and put the pot on the ground”. And I said, “Shut up and do your work”!
I was doing a chocolate making demonstration for some of Brisbane’s most acclaimed Pastry Chefs.
While stirring hot caramel, my wooden spoon broke and my hand plunged into the pot.
My pride wouldn’t allow the audience to know my fingers had just descended into the pits of Hell. I just said, “Gee-whiz, that was close”!
No-one was any-the-wiser as a blister the size of a hot air balloon inflated on my knuckles. The show must go on!
I’ve also burnt food on a TV show once. Thank goodness for the editing room.