Lethal Chef / Real Life

  • In the United States (and presumably other nations), school lunch ladies (particularly the public school ones), camp cooks, military cooks, and frankly anybody who is given the difficult task of having to make large amounts of food in difficult circumstances with limited resources and mediocre ingredients (since most have to be able to keep and store for long periods) have this reputation, particularly if the food that they cook comes out burned close to the point of in-edibility. Of course, it's all luck-of-the-draw.
    • Italian military cooks are considered this by their own troops, but there's at least one incident where US and Italian forces were on a joint mission, and the Americans paid the Italians for the privilege of eating their food.
    • A common novelty T-shirt or apron reads: "92G: Death From Within!" (92G being the US Army MOS for Food Service Specialist, lampshading the Airborne motto: "Death From Above.")
  • Deliberately Lethal Cookery has apparently become a pastime on several video sites, especially in Japan. Many chefs apparently have a code of ethics where they have to finish the food... Several examples follow.
  • NOVA 91.9 FM once ran a 'Munta Chef' contest to see who is the worst cook in Adelaide.
  • A number of years ago, the cooking pages in the Arizona Republic solicited (and then printed a double-page spread of) readers' instances of their own failed cookery. Two very memorable entries:
    • One reader said that in his teens, with his mother away from home, he'd attempted to follow the cookbook recipe for oatmeal cookies — but not realizing that oatmeal cookies are made with raw oatmeal, he added two cups of cooked oatmeal. (ISTR the description, "Even the chickens wouldn't eat them.")
    • Another recounted a culinary experiment by one of his college roommates, which involved taking a large saucepan and emptying cans into it: canned chicken, canned tomatoes, canned beans, all manner of canned vegetables. When it had achieved a nice thick-soup consistency, with perhaps an inch of liquid at the top and another inch of space in the pot, the chef then stirred in a one-pound box of macaroni ... and walked away. Returning fifteen minutes later, he found a vertical column of solidified soup, with the pot lid balanced atop it, emerging from the pot.
  • Sandra Lee has been frequently accused of being one. Perhaps the best example is when she made one of her obligatory cocktails out of milk, vodka and lemonade (the latter two causing the first to curdle instantly,) and grimaced on camera when she tried it. Here's a frame-by-frame.
  • Food Network's recurring reality show The Worst Cooks in America starts with 16 Lethal Chefs and ends up training the winner into a good cook.
  • A local Canadian morning news team shared their favourite holiday recipes on-air. One of the team members brought homemade artichoke dip, and asked her unfortunate coworkers to taste and point out what she did wrong.
    "It burns!"
  • CinemaSins' "Movie Recipes" videos used to result in this. An example is their Forrest Gump recipe, a casserole made out of shrimp, EZ Cheez, and Tang. At least one other recipe featured a bar of Dove Soap mixed into a stew! Averted more recently, as they shifted to having actual chefs create actually edible meals inspired by the movies being discussed.
  • Henrietta Nesbitt, White House chef during the FDR administration, was notorious for her dreary culinary atrocities. Eleanor Roosevelt had hired her to lead by example and showcase economical, nutritious meals to the American people during the Depression. Too bad they were flavorless disasters...
    Ernest Hemingway: We had a rainwater soup followed by rubber squab, a nice wilted salad and a cake some admirer had sent in. An enthusiastic but unskilled admirer.