Stories from the worst kitchens in the world

Weird complaints are just, well, weird.
Sometimes they stem from ignorance or a misunderstanding of how food or restaurants work and sometimes from just plain madness.

Burnt enough for ya?

Years ago I worked at a large chain hotel’s restaurant. It was mostly good work but we would get some very particular guests. Most of them airline pilots for some reason.

There was one pilot that would stay at the hotel fairly regularly with the rest of the flight crew (who were the best kind) and he stood out.

You would think that his demands would be pretty mundane seeing as we were a chain hotel in St John’s, Newfoundland, but no. He was constantly demanding that the staff do things for him that were really outside their job descriptions. He thought nothing of asking his waiter to take care of his dry cleaning for instance.

And he was very demanding about his morning toast. Insomuch as the toast was never toasted enough.

He complained about this toast situation every time he stayed at the hotel which was at least once a week.

“This toast isn’t right. Redo it.” He said this to our toughest waitress, Karen, loud enough that everyone in the dining room could hear.

“What’s wrong with it?”

“It’s not toasted enough.” Keep in mind that the toast was brown. It was very much toasted. Without a word Karen took the toast from his table and marched it into the kitchen.

“Burn it,” was all she said to the cook. So he did.

When she dropped the black toast at his table he looked furious.

“What’s this?”

“Your toasted toast.”
“You’re ruining my day!” Again, he said this loudly making sure the other guests could hear.

Karen had already had enough and this just about killed her.

“Are you being shot at?”


“Then eat your burnt toast and keep your (imaginative expletive) mouth shut.”

The dining room burst into laughter and oddly enough he never complained again.

Hot pepper sandwich man

I worked at a sandwich shop as a Sandwich Artist. We were located above a very sketchy basement bar (everyone over the age of 42 knows what I’m talking about).

Bar patrons would of course come and get sandwiches all the time and we were open till 4 am so weekends were busy all night.

Every Thursday, Friday, Saturday night, and late Sunday afternoon we had this one customer that stood out. He was the tallest man I think I’d ever seen to that point in my life. Easily six-foot-nine. He actually looked like Slash’s older brother. Long curly hair and you never saw his eyes because of it, and a pretty impressive full beard. He looked like a skinny Hagrid (if Harry Potter had been around at that point).

By the time he would roll in for a sandwich he would be almost incoherent. He was upright but barely so and he reeked of cigarettes and beer. But he was actually a very pleasant and happy drunk. He never caused any fuss, stood in line quietly, and ordered his sandwich politely.

It was the sandwich that was weird. The first couple of times he came in he asked for extra banana peppers on his sub. The fixin’s were free so we would liberally cover the sandwich with peppers. Every time he came in after the first time he would say he needed more peppers than he had the last time. He said it was never the right amount.So we kept increasing the pepper quotient on his sandwiches.After a couple of weeks of this I was curious as to how far I could take this. So the next time he came in I decided that I would just build a sandwich based entirely on pepper.

At the shop all the veggie fixins were in these metal dishes in a cold station. The bowl for the hot peppers could hold three or four large handfuls of peppers, like maybe six cups. So that’s what I made him; bread, salami, cheese, and six cups of peppers!

I wrapped it all up and he paid for it and then stood in front of the register, unwrapped the sandwich, took a huge bite, and with hot peppers falling all over his hand and quite a few stuck in his beard he said, “Perfect.”
He gave us a salute and we never saw him again.

Have an interesting restaurant story either as staff or as a guest? We are hoping you can be a part of this series by submitting firsthand experiences of imperious bosses, difficult guests, odd service, and your own and others’ gaffes. Please send stories to or private message on social media.

About Rod Weatherbie

Rod Weatherbie is a writer working in the hospitality industry. He spent a number of years in Toronto as a member of the financial press before returning to PEI. Rod has published one piece of short fiction, one book of poetry, and has had work published in Red Shift, the Antigonish Review, Mitre, and the Toronto Quarterly. He has also recently co-produced, co-directed, and acted in a stage production of old television shows.

He also likes writing about food. Go figure.

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