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.
- 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.
- Cucumber-Flavoured Beer and Pasta Rice with Bean Paste (two memes that probably shouldn't be combined)
- "Dancing man wearing a horse mask cooks wild mushrooms." That is all.
- The same individual (?) tries to make a Hi-Potion.
- Making giant chocoballs.
- 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.
- CinemaSins' "Movie Recipes" videos constantly 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!
- Henrietta Nesbitt, White House chef during the Roosevelt 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.
- A literal example can be found in Mary Mallon, who worked as a cook in the early 20th century. The people who ate her food frequently became ill, but not because of the skill of her cooking—it was because she was an asymptomatic carrier of typhoid fever and the trope namer Typhoid Mary. She ultimately had to be forcibly quarantined against her will, as she didn't believe she was a danger because she wasn't sick. In all, it is believed that she caused as many as 60 fatalities from typhoid fever.