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Lethal Chef

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God sends meat, the devil sends cooks.

"Terrible, isn't it? On a scale of one to ten, ten being the most revolting and one being almost edible, I believe that rating this recipe would require the use of exponents."
Invidia (on the Vord Queen's cooking), First Lord's Fury

Some people cannot cook. They burn breakfast so bad that you lose your lunch preemptively. When they cook dinner, you can only think of dessert-ing. Even the Rats Won't Touch It. Sometimes, if you're lucky, they can cook something that can be charitably described as "food."

Sometimes their food merely tastes bad. However, it has also been known to cause nausea, vomiting, or hospitalization. If you're particularly unlucky, it can cause, well, just about anything. If dinner eats you, you're probably in a lethal chef's kitchen.

At worst, if a dish looks abominable beyond comprehension, it may be censored for the sake of the audience.

As you may have guessed, this is usually a comedy trope. In eastern media, most examples are female (emphasizing that they fail at an aspect of traditional femininity, or femininity in general, or that they're something of an Action Girl, but increasingly used purely for the Moe factor), and in Japan is known as メシマズ or "meshimazu", but there are a ton of male examples in western media, probably tying in to the assumption that Men Can't Keep House and Dads Can't Cook. Even the most chauvinistic of men with a "Stay in the Kitchen" attitude towards women wants the exceptional lethal chef to Stay out of the Kitchen.

There are a number of common variants. Sometimes someone is forced to stomach the lethal chef's food to avoid hurting their feelings. Sometimes they refuse to admit that they can't cook, despite mountains of evidence. And sometimes, if you're particularly lucky, their food merely looks bad, and tastes perfectly fine.

The primary reasons for their failures can vary from case to case, but common culprits tend to be either too klutzy, or too experimental. The first case is prone to burning things, mixing the wrong (or non-edible) ingredients, forgetting important steps, or even negelcting the basic "wash your hands" before starting. The other type seems to function on the idea that using a cookbook or recipe is cheating or that they're otherwise nonexistent, and instead attempt to make something from scratch with whatever they think works best, failing to realize that not all foods are meant to be mixed together.

Lethal Chefs may be employees of a Lethal Eatery, and quite often can be found fixing up a stew of Mystery Meat. Most Camp Cooks fit this category. (Truth in Television for them, as their budgets and ingredients are limited.)

Compare the Cordon Bleugh Chef, who can cook just fine, but often gets too creative, the One-Note Cook, who can ace one dish, but otherwise falls into this trope, and the Evil Chef, who makes meals like this on purpose just to see you suffer. See also Lethally Stupid when the character is so dumb that it would be dangerous to let him cook. Contrast the Supreme Chef, who is the exact opposite of this trope, the Angry Chef, who has nothing but contempt for his customers and peers (and will probably reserve his nastiest profanities for chefs like this), and the Chef of Iron, who can be either bad or good, but is lethal outside of their cooking. Not to be confused with actual homicide by cooking, which is Cooked to Death, nor using particular cooking utensils as weapons, which is Frying Pan of Doom.

Examples subpages:

Other examples:

    open/close all folders 

  • In a commercial for Pokémon cereal, a mom attempts to cook her kids breakfast based on Pokémon characters. Unfortunately, in the process of doing so, she ended up burning the food.
  • In A Very Muppet Portal Campaign, the Swedish Chef and Beaker use Facebook Portal to cook, and Chef attempts to explain a soup recipe to Beaker. Despite Chef clearly (well, as clearly as you can expect from the Swedish Chef) saying "pepper", Beaker picks up every item in the room except the pepper to put in the soup, some of which aren't even edible. Eventually, Beaker gets the pepper, but when he sprinkles some into the pot, the entire thing boils over into a huge mess. In another (unrelated) spot, Beaker is seen burning something in the microwave, which gets Bunsen concerned.

  • In Flower Angel, An'an's father is so bad at cooking that anyone who eats his food waterfall pukes on the spot. An'an knows this all too well and actively avoids eating her father's food at any opportunity.
  • In Happy Heroes, Sweet S. is shown on multiple occasions to be absolutely terrible at cooking, to the point where it's been said that her cooking is essentially a biological weapon. The other heroes and Doctor H. do everything in their power to keep themselves from having to eat dinner whenever Sweet S. prepares it. In the third movie, she has finally learned to get her cooking skills improved and has become a competitor in the Master Chef Competition alongside an octopus chef.
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf:
    • Wolnie seems to be competent at making fried rice. This can't be said for everything else as she's a horrible cook.
    • In Episode 426, Jonie is shown to be a terrible cook, with the food she makes for the other goats causing even Paddi, who is Obsessed with Food and a Big Eater, to stumble on the floor.

    Films — Animation 
  • Cookie from Atlantis: The Lost Empire. In one scene, some of his food gets thrown into the fire, and it explodes into a small mushroom cloud. He's also horrified by a lettuce.
    Helga: It's a vegetable, Cookie. The men need their four basic food groups.
    Cookie: I got your four basic food groups: beans, bacon, whiskey and lard!
  • In Despicable Me 3, the girls make soup for Gru made from gummi bears and beef. (Justified, of course, as they're kids.) The look on Gru's face confirms he's only eating it to make them happy.
  • How to Train Your Dragon:
    • Astrid in the first Christmas Episode Gift of the Night Fury. Nobody liked the smell let alone taste of the Yak Nog she invented. By the time of How to Train Your Dragon: Homecoming, seeing how far you can spray Astrid's Yak Nog with your mouth had become a holiday tradition.
    • How to Train Your Dragon 2 reveals that Haddock men have a habit of falling for Lethal Chefs, as Stoick points out that he didn't marry Valka for her cooking.
      Gobber: I hope not! Her meatballs could kill more beasts than a battle axe.
  • In The Last Unicorn Cully's gang laments about Molly's cooking.
    "Rat soup!"
    "For the third night!"
    "At least you could have used a different rat!"
  • In Ratatouille, Linguini, before meeting Remy, makes a soup so bad that when he tastes it he pukes and Remy nearly does too when he sniffs it. Yes. His food is so bad that not even the rats will eat it. (Though granted, the rat in question has the culinary inclinations of a master chef, but rats don't have a gag reflex!!)
  • The standard food at the salvage yard cafeteria in Titan A.E. may be appetizing to the cockroach-like alien that cooks it, but he has no interest in catering to a human palate, serving feces and live "sushi" without ketchup.
    Cale: I'd just like them to kill my food before they serve it to me. I do an honest day's work, I want already-dead food.

  • An ancient Chinese story tells of a comatose general being saved from hunger by two beggars. The dish in itself was terrible (consisting of trampled spinach, rotten beancurd, and non-potable water), but he didn't notice because he was semi-conscious, instead thinking it delicious. When he became emperor, he ordered said beggars to present said meal to his ministers. Afraid to lose face, they all gulped it down. The Emperor, realizing how horrible the dish was, still drank it all. The two beggars ended up rich.

  • A husband and wife are eating at a fancy restaurant.
    Husband: The food is here! Let's eat!
    Wife: Honey, you always say your prayers before dinner.
    Husband: That's at home. Here, the chef knows how to cook!

  • The WWII Canadian army song "Gee Ma, I Wanna Go Home" - which has been adapted to be sung by summer campers and Girl Guides as well - features a literal one of these.
    They say that in the army, the food is mighty fine/A bun rolled off the table and killed a friend of mine.
  • Spike Jones' "Pass the Biscuits, Mirandy" is told by a Tennessee mountaineer whose wife is one. At least when it comes to her biscuits.
  • "Miss Fogarty's Christmas cake." from the song of the same name, was apparently bad enough to hospitalize a number of fully grown men with everything from stomach ailments to a full-blown dissociative fugue.
  • In the Yiddish-language song "Hopf! meine homentashn" ("Hop, my Purim cookies!") the hapless protagonist of the song makes homentashn which are "halb roi, halb farbrente" (half raw, half burnt).
  • An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer:
    • The mess sergeant from "It Makes a Fellow Proud to Be a Soldier":
      Our old mess sergeant's taste buds had been shot off in the war
      But his savory collations add to our
      espirit de corps
      To think of all the marvelous ways
      They're using plastics nowadays
      It makes a fellow proud to be a soldier.
    • In "She's My Girl", this is one of the girl's shortcomings:
      So though for breakfast she makes coffee that tastes like shampoo,
      I come home for dinner and get peanut butter stew,
      Or if I'm in luck,
      It's broiled hockey puck,
      But, oh well, what the hell,
      She's my girl,
      And I love her.

  • Retired Heroes: Saliy used to be an absolutely horrible cook, but years of practice have made her food edible.

    Myths & Religion 
  • From The Bible: Somebody in 2nd Kings 4:38-41 finds a strange batch of gourds that he nearly poisons others with by making them into a stew. Fortunately, Elisha the prophet with the help of God makes the stew harmless to eat.

  • In America's Most Haunted, Julienne Sikes, former cook of the Old Prison, is implied to be one by the epitaph on her tombstone.

  • In Welcome to Night Vale episode 56 Earl Harlan, sous chef at Night Vale's newest restaurant, shares a tiramisu recipe on the community radio show that he warns is highly poisonous and will probably kill you. Another time he shares his recipe for pulled pork, which includes killing the pig, and spends a lot of time on the subject of killing the pig, before quickly rattling off a seemingly normal recipe for pulled pork.
  • Conversed in Mom Can't Cook!, which took its name from the number of Disney Channel movies where the main character's mother would either be unable to cook at all or would prepare things like bowls of varietal tree bark regardless of the tastes of everyone else involved. At one point the hosts theorise that there was a New Agey healthy-eating fad in the late nineties that was popular with the wives of the people who wrote the movies. Naturally, they point it out whenever it shows up in the movie they're discussing, including cases like Genius where the main character's mother being unable to keep a souffle from collapsing is the only thing we ever learn about her.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • During the InVasion angle, Debra started baking cookies that were, judging by the reactions of people that tasted them, inedible to the point of being practically poisonous. The problem was that she was married to Steve Austin. As he was the star wrestler of the Alliance it was imperative that Austin be kept happy, and since he got angry over anyone disrespecting to his wife, people had to pretend to like Debra's cookies. The gag where someone pretends to eat and then throws it away as soon as nobody's looking was used regularly.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Swedish Chef of The Muppet Show is generally a unique example of this (i.e. his cuisine is lethal to him), but he occasionally plays it straight — in one instance, he went into cordon bleugh territory and made an onion cake; in another, he provided a quite literal example.
  • Ma Gorg in Fraggle Rock, it seems. In one episode, she makes Junior a peach-and-garlic pie (which is just the way he likes it, apparently) but when he tries to eat it, it's like rubber, literally. Fortunately, the pie isn't wasted; later, when the Fraggles have to sneak into the Gorg's house, they're able to do so by using it like a trampoline.

  • In Cabin Pressure, Arthur consistently fails to cook edible food. At one point, he spectacularly fails at reheating frozen food. Unfortunately for everyone, he's usually the cook.
    Douglas: Arthur, you're aware the point of giving us separate meals is so that we can't both get food poisoning? There's really not much point if you're just going to poison us in two different ways.
  • The Goon Show: Moriarty.
    Grytpype-Thynne: [sipping soup] Tell me, Moriarty...what is this foul but economical recipe?
    Moriarty: It's a family secret!
    Grytpype-Thynne: Why?
    Moriarty: They died after the first mouthful. It was terrible! I had to do all the washing up myself!
  • In The Men from the Ministry Mr. Lamb's landlady Mrs. Bradby makes consistently terrible food. At one point Lamb describes having shepherds pie and rhubarb custard... on the same plate.
  • In The Navy Lark Able Seaman "Fatso" Johnson's pies prove to be rather convincing as limpet mines, and less edible.
  • Riders Radio Theater: Sidemeat's biscuits are the hardest substance known to man.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Squee, from Magic: The Gathering. The look on Gerrard's face after eating Squee's food on the card Recycle is one of impressive shock and regret. The card Medicine Bag has even more to say on the subject:
    "My medicine bag and I have treated countless wounds and illnesses. But never have I seen so many made so sick for so long. We will never eat Squee's cooking again."
    —Orim, journal
  • In Entropy Inc's Star Wars campaign, the title crew stole/refurbished a cooking droid. Unfortunately, everything it made tasted like bantha burger.
  • This is the story behind the old Halfling Hot Pot Catapult in Warhammer. Halflings are normally Supreme Chefs, but once upon a time a team of Halfling cooks attached to an Empire army got caught up in an ambush by goblins. The plucky little cooks defended themselves with meat cleavers, but some goblin blood got in the stew, thoroughly ruining it. The head chef then snapped, dumped all the peppers and spices he had into the pot, looped ropes around the bubbling cauldron, had his team haul back on it, then fired the thing like a slingshot into the middle of the goblin horde. The resulting mixture not only scalded greenskins to death, it was strong enough to melt trolls! This ended up saving the day, and in subsequent campaigns, many halfling cooks have contributed during battles with their own attempts at weaponized stew, though even the original chef never could quite remember what he put into that first batch.

  • In Les Misérables, Thenardier uses horse kidneys and cat's livers to make the food he serves.
  • The entire plot of Nunsense is set into motion in the aftermath of Sister Julia, Child of God, having killed all but five of the Little Sisters of Hoboken with a tainted batch of vichyssoise soup.
  • In Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, we first meet Mrs. Lovett while she's telling Sweeney (and us) how awful her meat pies are ("The Worst Pies in London"). The song "God, That's Good!" subverts this trope, as it suggests that Mrs. Lovett is actually a pretty good cook, she just needs to buy high-quality ingredients (such as with the money taken from Pirelli's corpse).

    Web Animation 
  • Helluva Boss: When Fizz jokingly offers to cook breakfast, Ozzy's response is HA HA HA—No.
  • Hunter: The Parenting: Big D's omelette recipe includes sulfur, graphite from an RMBK reactor, and rice. He mentions that he'd probably die if he ate it; instead, he feeds it to Kevin as a form of torture.
  • Lacey Games: Played for Horror in the bad ending route, where Lacey, in her Sanity Slippage and anger towards her customers, serves food made of cigarette butts, dead roaches, porn magazines, meth, used condoms, broken glass, and human flesh.
  • MoniRobo:
    • "My husband told me my cooking was disgusting…": featured a zigzagged example. Sorao often accused Nano of being this and always happily praised his mother’s, Iyo’s, cooking. However, it soon becomes clear that Iyo doesn’t properly prepare the food (not cleaning fish and leaving vegetables undercooked) and overseasons her cooking, which Sorao grew used to. Everyone else immediately hates her food and vastly prefers Nano’s, complimenting her on cooking and seasoning everything perfectly, making her a Supreme Chef instead.
    • "My mother-in-law broke my computer because she thought I was being lazy…": When Nano returned to the house to confront her abusive, mother-in-law Iyo for slandering her to other moms when picking up Sakura from school on top of mooching off of her and Masayoshi, she opened the door to a lot of smoke that came out of the kitchen; she tried to shallow-fry chicken and left it unattended. Turns out it wasn't the first time these kinds of accidents happened, as she did the same while boiling vegetables.
  • Shishihara: Yurika is so bad at cooking, it makes everything she cooks explodes, leaving nothing but smoke behind.
  • SMG4: Meggy Spletzer, whether she is an Inking or a cute anime girl, had been shown to be ridiculously bad at cooking.
    • The first meal she ever made is only the least deadly thing she made: a mutated teleported bread loaf with tentacles, rusted railroad spikes, and what looked like a pile of rust flakes. Since then, all she ever did was cause fires and explosions.
    • Her cooking is so terrible that even being asked to help Meggy with the oven made Death run like hell! She once even exploded the entire kitchen before she can even start to cook!
    • Even Mario, who would drink bleach or urine from a bottle, refuses to eat Meggy's soup, something that should be simple to make!
    • Even just diluting Meggy's cooking by turning it into an ingredient (ex. when Mario made cake) doesn't stop it from killing people, as shown when Tari committed Darwinism by eating a cake that used Meggy's cooking as frosting.
  • Trouble Busters: The chef of a Chinese restaurant puts inedible things like rocks and grass in the food. Hailey and her friend Michelle couldn't finish on time and the chef wouldn't let them leave without finishing the food. They reported it to the health department and they suspended his business and it eventually shut down.

    Web Original 
  • I Love Bees (a Halo 2 ARG): Kamal is a male example. He microwaves a whole raw chicken, cuts it up in exactly equal slices, and in place of Worcestershire sauce and butter uses ketchup and butter-flavored popcorn oil.
  • Killerbunnies: Gunhilde, otherwise known as "Greasestain" is one of these and, apparently, she isn't safe eating her own cooking, seeing as she uses "unconventional" ingredients and the fact she's suffering from some of the side-effects (she's balding as per her profile pic). Somehow, she got a job as a lunch lady.
  • Plonqmas: Many of the stories in this series involve Plonq attempting to prepare an Indestructible Edible for his holiday meal, which are normally variants on "Christmas Dinner-in-a-Bag".
  • On SB Nation, the topic Lunch Judgment (where one of the site bloggers asked what the readers ate) frequently attracted the unorthodox recipes of Spilly. The website eventually added him as frequently disgust a regular.
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-666½-J is a crab-stuffed mushroom dish that was given SCP status the day after it was presented. According to the file, it tastes relatively fine, other than an odd salty flavor, but soon enough sets off what can only be called a localized apocalypse on the eater's digestive system. It’s effects are so bad that it was able to kill SCP-682.
  • In Twitch Plays Pokémon Emerald, the Mob tried their hand at making Pokeblocks. The result were level 10-11 Pokeblocks with 19-23 feel. Higher numbers are worse, and it used to be thought that you couldn't make anything higher than a level 9 Pokeblock. To quote Twitch Plays Pokemon's own Epic Fail page: "So what we have is a previously incomprehensibly bad tasting Pokeblock that goes down worse than sandpaper embedded with razors." Then, in the Platinum run, they tried to make Poffins, which it turned out they couldn't do. Literally - they were unable to stir the mixture due to the input format and ended up burning their creations horribly.
  • Let this be known, Madgie cannot make Kool-Aid [1]. She included some rather unconventional ingredients, including diesel, kerosene, butane, propane, Red Bull, and turpentine. As you may expect, Bunny was hospitalized and was paralyzed down her left side for a week.
    Bunny: Accident my ass! When I was her age, at the time, I knew what to put in some damn Kool-Aid and what she used was NOT what you put in Kool-Aid.

    Web Videos 
  • In this video the chef almost poisons himself.
  • "Cement pizza? Newbies, please!" This well-known O Fortuna Misheard Lyrics video fits, if accidentally (it has even a deadly cake at the end).
  • The few times Ashens' Chef Excellence actually attempts to do his job, he's this in spades. The film's version of the character is not actually a chef (though he sure as hell will talk you down like he's one), just the former mascot of a frozen food company made entirely of Lethal Chefs.
  • Strippin has a reputation as one of these after his attempt to make protein cookies resulted in this. When he and Sparkles* try eating them, it goes very badly.
    Sparkles*: That is the most horrible thing I have ever eaten!
  • Most videos on the Hydraulic Press Channel and its sister channel, Beyond the Press that involve food being 'prepared' using the titular hydraulic press play this trope for laughs by not even attempting to make edible products. Between the two channels, they've squashed food flat with the press or with the host dropping his powerlifting weights on them, dropped canned food into a campfire until it explodes, shot it out of their homemade air cannon, attempted to roast it using a solar-powered 'death ray', attempted to use liquid nitrogen to brew coffee instead of water and if it's food that typically requires heat during the cooking process, they blast it with a flamethrower.
    "In Hydraulic Press Kitchen, there is no time for oven." (starts up flamethrower)
  • Swedish YouTube channel MonteFjanton has the series Basses Rätt i Skafferiet, where Basse acts like a cheerful middle-aged cooking show host. The recipes usually start out decent, but then he will add ingredients that nobody likes and/or don't gel well together at all... Such as a pie that was revealed to contain dried insects, or fridge-cold spaghetti bolognese with mushrooms suspended in aspic. More generally, vinegar and Colman's mustard powder always sneak their way into his recipes. He never eats the results himself,note  but a selling point of the series is watching his friends and family suffer.
  • Swedish YouTube channel Kilian Experience has the video "Crab Expert Prepares the Perfect Crab", wherein host Kilian reproduces the old Frankish seafood recipe Crabe al la Pebe Maximum, also known by the English name "CRAB IN PEPSI MAX!". It ended up exactly like you'd expect and according to Word of God it smelled like "dying in mud".
  • The YouTube channel How to Cook That has several videos debunking ineffective and sometimes downright dangerous "food hacks" on YouTube.
  • Vine: A mother asks her three children what they think of her cooking. The toddler cries, the daughter takes a bite and gags almost immediately, and the son shrugs and says "It's something".
  • Will McDaniel: How to Bake a Cake for a Racist is an Invoked example of this trope. Since the cake is supposed to be going to a racist, Will instructs the viewer to toss in laxative, gravel, broken glass, and a page from The Daily Mail.


KirbyTube 2

Kirby's video in KirbyTube 2 consists of creating the "perfect dish" and serving it to his customers, unaware that it's made with ingredients so vile it caused them to faint from its bad taste.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

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Main / LethalChef

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