Glynn Purnell, Aaron Mulliss talk catastrophic culinary hacks: chip-fat roux and microwaved duck breasts

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor

When the news hit that a restaurant owner in East London was fined for trying to pass-off mouldy chicken for a traditional Nigerian crab dish, many of you were up in arms, and rightly so. 

While businesses showing such little regard for hygiene and health are few and far between, more conscientious purveyors of food have been known to cut the occasional corner to get themselves out of a tight spot. 

The Staff Canteen editor put this to The Grilled podcast co-host Aaron Mulliss and their guest this week, Glynn Purnell, asking them what the worst culinary hacks they've seen in their time spent in professional kitchens. 

We can't stress this enough: we are not condoning any such practices, and none of the examples mentioned by the chefs took place in the restaurants they are known and loved for.

"A chef that I used to work for," Aaron said, in what was essentially a galley kitchen, "the Maitre d' came running into the kitchen and said 'EHO are here', so he goes, 'alright, just stall them for two minutes.'

"He went into the fridge and had a load of lamb rumps which were on their way out, they were a little bit grey. So he grabbed them and ran out the back kitchen door, opened up the box in the back of his motorbike, stuck 'em in there and went back in the kitchen.'" 

"He was like, 'alright, we'll pass now.'"

Glynn said that unlike the owner of Lagos Island, "me personally, I've never tried to pass anything off, but I have seen a chef run out of scallops so got monkfish loin, cut it with a round cutter and then cooked them as scallops." 

The chef said that he witnessed "some horrific things" in the earlier stages of his career, but that one of the worst was perpetrated by a chef at a pub inside a hotel in Liverpool. 

"The soup was really thin, so I thought, 'okay, we'll thicken it.' So he got a ladle of dirty fryer oil, poured it into a bottle, poured flour in it and whisked it and then whisked that into the soup. 

"I said to him, 'what's that?' He said, 'it's called a Scouse roux'" 

"The chip fat - the oil was black, so when the soup was being stirred, you could see fragments of small burnt chips floating in the top of the soup." 

"So I said, 'what d'you call them, Scouse croutons?'" 

"I've seen a duck breast microwaved as it's away from raw, I've seen some horrific things." 

"I'd like to point out, just for legal reasons: none of these things happened here!" 

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Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 18th January 2022

Glynn Purnell, Aaron Mulliss talk catastrophic culinary hacks: chip-fat roux and microwaved duck breasts