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Lethal Chef

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"It's a new recipe! He loved it so much he passed out!"

"You do realize you're a horrible chef, right? Do the world a favor and give up!"
Cammy White to El Fuerte, Street Fighter IV

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.

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 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.

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.

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 just likes to see you suffer. See also Lethally Stupid when the character is so dumb 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 the Chef of Iron, who can be either bad or good but is lethal outside of their cooking.

Sub-pages and examples:

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  • 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.

    Comic Strips 
  • Effie Munyon from Piranha Club, to the point where it's her most recognizable character trait. Her signature dish is various variations of squid, which she usually just boils whole, but she's been known to make everything from pigs' feet to gorilla pie. Ironically, it's been implied that she can cook perfectly fine, but cooks horrible food out of some misguided desire to be unique. At one point she tried to cook a deliberately disgusting meal to punish Sid Fernwilter for eating dinner with another woman; the end result was something Sid considered to be the most delicious thing she had cooked in years. When it was pointed out that Effie had never been shown eating her own cooking, she stated that "I might be a little crazy, but I'm not stupid."
  • Bill Mauldin threw many jabs at Army cuisine in Willie And Joe.
  • Some examples from Foxtrot:
    • Paige has been shown to be able to cause boiling pasta to burst into flames. Pasta that is submerged in water.
      (while discussing Survivor's food challenges)
      Peter: That reminds me. I think Mom is letting Paige cook dinner tonight.
      Jason: A perfect example. Have them eat something like that!
      Peter: But don't you need to have a survivor?
    • Roger is also shown to be this, when he's grilling hamburgers or on the rare occasions when Andy's out and he's left to cook for the kids.
    • Andy is somwhere between this and Cordon Bleugh Chef— while she's capable of making perfectly edible food, because she's a health nut Andy usually makes meals out of tofu, lima beans, and other "healthy" food that frequently makes her family sick and they hate the taste of even if it doesn't. Her family constantly complains about her cooking and attempts to sabotage it, but she's either oblivious or doesn't care. One of the reasons Andy hates her own mother is because she's the direct opposite.
    • In another series of strips, Paige tried to make Thanksgiving dinner all by herself. In the end she was the only one willing to try some of it.
      Andy: Did you have to eat it?
      Paige: Mother please, it hurts to talk.
  • A few examples from Garfield:
    • Irma's diner has notoriously bad food. The soup has hair in it with rollers, the coffee tastes like turpentine, there is a hoof in the meat loaf, the cows for the hamburgers are burned alive, and so on.
    • Jon Arbuckle also qualifies. Garfield remarked that he's the only cook who could ruin cereal, right before Jon sets the bacon aflame. Garfield has also used one of Jon's pancakes as a gong.
      Garfield: The only way Jon knows my dinner's finished is when it sets off the smoke alarm.
    • In this strip, Jon potentially becomes a literal example.
  • "Cookie", the military cook from Beetle Bailey has a knack for bad cooking (a common stereotype of military cooks). Jokes about his meatballs are the most common. Thankfully, one of the soldiers he caters to is Sargeant Snorkel, who will eat anything.
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • Calvin is a bona fide Lethal Chef. In one strip, Calvin's Mom is sick so Calvin makes her breakfast in bed: orange juice, eggs and toast. Calvin delivers his mom the eggs smoldering and with a chisel to chip it out of the pan. When his mom asks about the orange juice and toast, Calvin replies "Dad said not to tell you about that until you're better". He'll presumably get better, considering how little experience he has.
    • Calvin's mom herself could certainly qualify as well. Though Calvin is prone to gross exaggeration on how bad her food is (just as he is with everything else), there isn't much that goes on the family's dinner table that is visually identifiable as food. Most dinner plates are filled with what can only be described as "glop", which sometimes takes on colors that no food should ever be. Even Calvin's dad sometimes comments on this:
      Dad: I thought we were having stuffed peppers. Honey, what the heck IS this? Whatever it is, I'm not eating it!Context 
    • His dad probably qualifies too. Once when his mom was sick and he claimed he could cook for them, having done so for himself in college, Calvin remembered his mom saying he had lived solely on canned soup and frozen waffles the entire four years.
  • Hägar the Horrible:
    • Hagar's daughter, Honi, is such a horrible cook she even manages to mess up cooking water.
    • The same goes for Lucky Eddie, who prepares the meals when Hagar's warband are on raids.
  • Egon, the Foreign Legion chef in Beau Peep, veers between this and Cordon Bleugh Chef, but is mostly this. Peep once ate the contents of an ashtray and thought it was only marginally worse than normal.
  • Several Brother Juniper strips make cracks at Juniper's lack of cooking skills. One such strip has unidentifiable blackish lumps on everyone's plates.
    Dismayed monk: His cooking almost makes grace at meals uncalled for!
  • The Military Cook from Sturmtruppen is the Trope Codifier as far as Italian comics are concerned-and will admit that anyone who willingly eats his cooking is insane. In one series of strips he had living ferocious spaghetti that he would sick on anyone who insulted his cooking-and it was nowhere near the worst thing he cooked-that is either the man-eating soup (he had tried to use lightning to cook, and the lunch came to life), a concoction that turns soldiers into hairy monsters and gives addiction (the soldiers had complained the lunch was always the same, and demanded he tried to be creative. He decided to please them), or the cholera-infected lunch.
  • In one Stone Soup strip, Andy asks his uncle why he cooks instead of his wife, Joan. After chastising him for making assumptions about gender roles, he quietly adds "and besides, have you tasted her cooking?" Joan yells that she heard that.

    Fan Works 
  • In Blue Sky, Wheatley tries to bake bread with Chell. While her loaf turns out fine, his loaf becomes a rock-hard, smouldering monstrosity that manages to devour half of Chell's bread in the oven and is ultimately sliced up and used for target practice.
  • Advice and Trust: Misato's cook is... dangerous. In chapter 8 Asuka accuses her from almost poisoning their penguin pet:
    Misato: But it's Shin-chan's night to cook! [...] That's way better than even my best curry!
    Asuka: The last time you fed 'your best curry' to Pen Pen, he spent the rest of the night staring at the ceiling and barking.
  • Ghosts of Evangelion: Not even Third Impact can improve Misato's cooking skills. Two years after, Asuka still doesn't want to try anything her guardian has cooked.
    "Oh, and since you just woke up you must be hungry." She got up, heading for the pantry. "Why don't I —"

    Asuka's eyes widened, and she leapt after Misato. "No, that's okay! I'll make breakfast!"

    "Aw, but I had this neat idea for an experiment! All I need is some horseradish and some curry and —"

    "No, really, that's fine! I'm good here. Shinji made some rice balls before he left, so that'll be fine. Better than fine, great even! Shinji makes great stuff, right?" Her voice had a bit of a panicked edge to it.

    "Oh, you're no fun," Misato pouted, sitting down. "Fine, fine, we'll have Shinji's boring-yet-tasty food. But you'll have to try mine eventually."

    "Heh heh, sure, sure." Asuka's face turned a shade of green as she headed to the refrigerator to get the rice balls. She rolled her eyes and whispered a silent prayer to whatever deities might still exist that she be spared Misato's cooking for as long as possible.
  • Once More with Feeling: Shinji has very bad memories of Misato's horrid cooking skills. When she tells hims that he will be staying with her, Shinji is happy... until he remembers it means he will have to eat whatever she "cooks" again, and he gets terrified.
    Misato: I'll cook you a huge welcome home meal!
    Shinji: Oh...great. [thinking] Oh God in Heaven, not again, I can't go through
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness:
    • In cooking class, Rason Miyamosa often sets his pots on fire. In Act II chapter 4, his attempt at making spaghetti and meatballs results in a giant green blob that actually appears to be moving.
      Kurumu: So... can I try it?
      Rason: I wouldn't if I were you.
    • Yukari's cooking also leaves something to be desired. For example, in Act IV chapter 34, her attempt at cooking stew results in a Blob Monster that can shoot Hollywood Acid.
      Luna: Your cooking's going to kill Ahakon if it doesn't kill us first!
  • This Homestuck fanfic describes Dave as one, to the point where his sylladex refuses to acknowledge his creation as "spaghetti", or "pasta", or even "food". It takes him and John only a few bites to decide it was right.
  • Rainbow Dash in Assumptions isn't on the level of killing ponies yet, but she did manage to burn tea and insist Caramel still try it.
  • Derpy Hooves isn't much better in We're Gonna Get There Soon. Played for Drama when she's tasked with bringing snacks for the next Weather Team meeting, and she promises herself she'll prove to them that she's able to complete a task without it ending in disaster. She's on the verge of tears after several attempts result in flaming muffins, muffins that are simultaneously undercooked and overcooked, and turning the kitchen into a disaster area that gave Thunderlane's mother an aneurysm.
  • The Worst Bakers In Equestria is about a lethal chef competition started by someone who earned her cutie mark in bad baking. The cooks are so bad that they make biscuits that explode, somehow attract a bear, manage to swap a major ingredient with a sauce made of near-pure rainbow extract, which probably wasn't in the ingredients to begin with, put a taster in a coma for a year, have eggs somehow turn out to have live chicks in them, make food that went straight back around to being utterly perfect, and the reigning champion, Rainbow Dash, somehow managed to create blueberry muffins, while trying to make cookies. Supervised. Nothing went wrong during baking process, and blueberries were not an ingredient.
  • The Emiya Clan:
    • Kiritsugu Jr manages not only to make food that you can't eat, but also to make food that eats you. Whatever he cooks somehow comes to life as some kind of Eldritch Abomination. This includes (but isn't limited to): Sliced cucumbers becoming tentacle beasts, boiled water becoming flaming water spirits, roasted chicken turning into an undead monstrosity that is almost impossible to kill, and fried bacon becoming sentient, escaping into the basement, building an underground civilization based on the worship of his daughter, and vowing vengeance on the surface world.
    • His sister Chiyo also cooks notoriously badly, but while her food might taste so bad it almost kills you, it's so healthy you feel like a million bucks afterwards.
  • Vili in The Tainted Grimoire put poison in the meal she cooked for Luso, Crow, Hurdy, Kanin and Adelle when she mistakenly thought it was just seasoning.
  • In the Fanfiction story Percy Jackson Olympus Divided, Thalia Grace is said to be this, with comments suggesting her oatmeal was bad enough to put Artemis, a goddess, in the hospital. When she ate her own pancakes...she ended up in the hospital.
  • In the former series Naruto Alternate Dimension, Tayuya is described to be this, ending up turning a cheesecake into something from an alien movie that had to be buried in cement, her attempts at muffins ended up breaking holes through solid stone and randomly set things on fire just trying to make cereal. Tenten is also described to be a bad cook, blowing up a microwave at least once.
  • In More Than Human, Blossom is such a disaster waiting to happen around cooking that Buttercup declares that there is a 15-foot perimeter around the grill that is a "No Blossom" zone. One ruined batch of hamburgers later, Blossom reluctantly complies with her sister's mandate.
  • Rainbow Dash is revealed to be one in Magnetism, managing, like Sweetie Belle in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic example, to liquify burnt toast. Fluttershy almost eats it to make her friend feel better, but Angel tosses it out the nearest window.
  • Ash Ketchum of Latias' Journey is such a horrible chef that he lit water on fire. Not burned, but actually on fire.
  • In Ronin-ai's Final Fantasy VIII universe, Irvine Kinneas is this, so much so that Squall Leonheart learned to be a very good cook in "self-defense".
  • Lind in Ah! Archfall! has terrible cooking skills, possibly linked to her lack of magic.
  • In The Non-Bronyverse, TD is a terrible chef, whose skills are on a par with Sweetie Belle's, as Rarity is unfortunate enough to experience first hand.
  • Legendary Genesis has Chef Muk, who's supposedly an exceptional cook in spite of her unsanitary habits. According to Dion, everybody at Arcanine's Academy has developed an immunity to her cooking.
  • Suki in The Stalking Zuko Series has food that tastes like congealed sadness and burned a roast to an inedible crisp. Sokka ate it anyways because he loves her. Justified in that she never had to cook before as the other Kyoshi Warriors did. She gets better in Not Stalking Firelord Zuko when she makes a dish that's tasteless but edible. She's learning.
  • Averted, but discussed by the main character of Sleeping with the Girls, who, being a human being from the Real World, points out that he isn't bound by the "Conventions" of the fictional universes he's in. As such, his cooking skills fall into neither this nor "Epic Win" status. At the bare minimum, he's shown moderate skill in making omelettes- neither toxic nor blissfully amazing, they're simply normal omelettes.
  • Tony Stark is a pretty sorry cook in A Past Encounter when he attempts to make pancakes and tries to cook them by sticking them in the oven, burning them into ashes.
  • In Parent Trap, Xander remarks that his mom can't cook, leading to this exchange.
    Willow: Can't cook as in not very good at it?
    Xander: No. She can't cook as in prohibited from doing so by the CDC, the Geneva convention, and several international agencies. Ever since... last time.
  • According to this RP blog Ryuuko and Nui are apparently these, as Nui, somehow, managed to burn an entire town to the ground with cooking, along with the fact that she used white phosphorus as an ingredient (going by that, she might have used a lot), and, apparently, when she and Ryuuko's cooking talents are combined, the result were brownies which are described to be "something worse than napalm made with household ingredients".
  • "Water + Veggies + Meats + Soy sauce + Yukari = nuclear bombs" [1].
  • In A Muggle Gap Year Charlie Weasley's cooking ability - or lack of same - is vigorously derided by his colleagues. One of them tilts her plate in an effort to identify his latest concoction and the food on it doesn't even move.
  • The New Kid:
    "This is worse than that time Lavender invited us to her house and tried to cook for us," [Neville] joked, shuddering at the memory of an orange-colored steak that tasted of raw fish and sweat.
  • In A.A. Pessimal's Discworld, the Guild of Assassins now employs a Domestic Science teacher. In her special lessons to senior girls on the Black Track, Joan Sanderson-Reeves teaches that the way to stop a man's heart is indeed through his stomach. Although in the case of certain beverages she prepares, she will accept "kidneys" or "bladder" as an answer.
  • In chapter 1 of Thousand Shinji, Shinji has to try Misato's cook. He seriously wonders if that... bizarre, highly-spicy glob resting on his plate won't kill him.
  • Anna in the Frozen fanfic Café Liégeois is described as one. She still manages her job as a barista just fine though:
    Anna had been banned from the kitchen at home for very good reason; every time she entered, insisting that she could help, something was bound to go wrong. Her very touch brought about the dinner apocalypse. The pot on the stove would boil over, the bread would first burn and then inexplicably catch on fire, the chicken would be roasted to a crispy sooty black, the meat would always come out rare no matter how long it was left in the oven, the cake crumbled in on itself into a mess of rock-hard chunks and her father was still traumatised badly enough by her 'Fruit Sundae of Epic Awesomeness' that, four years later, he still couldn't look at pineapples and corkscrews in the same way. They were lucky that Anna's mother had forbidden her from attempting to slice and dice vegetables, or their beloved but hopelessly clumsy daughter would be short a few fingers.
  • Arf's attempts at cooking in Infinity is somehow capable of burning through Nanoha's shields and feeling anger. Tsukuyomi mentions later on that the ingredients would have been better suited for a chemical weapon.
    Arf: Fate, the whipped cream has grown teeth!
  • In The Infinite Loops, there's a Running Gag that Leman Russ is not simply incapable of cooking. He's so bad at it that even when following instructions to the letter, he can cause anything from fires to giant, rampaging food Kaiju. At one point he managed to open a portal to the Warp by making toast. This running gag eventually grows to the point where, upon actually making a perfectly normal dinner of spaghetti and wheatballs for his girlfriend, the Loopers' response is to evacuate the solar system.
  • In Xendra, Buffy's two biggest problems with cooking are always removing the pot's lid to check on the food (Willow eventually buys her glass pot lids), and not understanding that food must be cooked at the temperature and for the time specified. Xander once notes that if Buffy had to bake something for two hours at 225 degrees, she was liable to bake it for one hour at 450 and if she could, she'd try to bake it for six minutes at 4500 degrees.
  • The Adventures Of Jaina: Azzanadra is quite literally legendarily bad at cooking, to the point that the citizens of the Zarosian Empire feared him going anywhere near a kitchen even after thousands of years had passed since his first attempt! As a Mahjarrat he doesn't need to eat, and his knowledge of cooking is basically 'it exists', and a general idea of what is healthy for humans. When he tries to make breakfast for Jaina, he forgets what parts of vegetables are edible, has to scrape the fish off the pan because he didn't oil it beforehand, and splatters burnt bread dough over the oven because he forgot to put it in a pan. He at least manages to satisfactorally slice fruit.
'''Jaina: Garlic and onions are supposed to be peeled before you eat them because the skin isn't edible![…] Cabbage, really? Wait, this isn't cabbage at all... huh... corn leaves? Those aren't edible either... and these beans are dry! Beans have to be soaked overnight and boiled in water before you eat them.
  • Black & Black:
    While he cleaned after himself, partly out of habit and partly because he found it relaxing, they had house elves doing the general chores and cooking when Harry could not. He had learned early that Draco was to be kept away from the kitchen lest they all be poisoned.
  • In Cupcake Wars, Steve brags to everyone that Bucky always made him the best cupcakes for his birthday while they were growing up but when Bucky tries to bake them again after a 70-year gap, he can only make a sludge-like mess that breaks his spoon in half. Not wanting to disappoint Steve, he buys cupcakes from a nearby bakery and pretends that he made them himself. It turns out that he had always been a Lethal Chef and that he and Steve had always pretended that the store cupcakes he bought for his birthdays had been made by him instead.
  • Bats Shouldn't Get Hurt:
    Harry: Sorry Tom, but even Dudley can cook better than you and I don't think he knows how to cook. You do realize water can't burn right?
  • Alphamon in A Dragon in Shining Armour likes to create... unique blends of tea, most of which are fairly noxious. The other Royal Knights are probably fortunate that he limits himself to tea.

  • 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 unpotable 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.

    Films — Animation 
  • 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 in the colony in Titan A.E.: "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."
  • 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!"
  • How to Train Your Dragon's Astrid in the Christmas Episode Gift of the Night Fury. Her idea of Yak Nog will probably not last as a Snoggletog tradition.
  • 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 about ten years old.) The look on Gru's face confirms he's only eating it to make them happy.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Elvira, Mistress of the Dark in the eponymous film attempts to cook a meal from a secret family cookbook. Unfortunately, the "secret cookbook" is actually a spellbook, and the resulting vaguely food-like monstrosity attempts to eat the diners. The spray whipped cream is a nice touch.
  • Roger Murtaugh's wife from the Lethal Weapon series is not known to be skilled in the kitchen, as evidenced by the following exchange:
    Murtaugh: What the hell, thin's my middle name.
    Riggs: Your wife's cooking, I'm not surprised.
    [fires his gun several more times]
    Murtaugh: What? What?
    Riggs: Nothin'.
    Murtaugh: Remarks like that will not get you invited to Christmas dinner.
    Riggs: My luck's changing for the better every day.
  • Lane Meyer's mother Jenny (played by Kim Darby) from the 1985 John Cusack film Better Off Dead. In one scene Jenny is shown cooking a pot full of something emitting a suspicious mist from which tentacles wave, and in another, one of her dishes actually crawls off of Lane's plate when he pokes it with a fork. Even her "ordinary" meals are somewhat ... skewed, as evidenced by the "French-themed" dinner she makes for a French exchange student — consisting entirely of foods with the word "French" in their names, like French dressing and French toast.
    "It's got raisins in it... you like raisins!"
  • The extended edition of The Two Towers reveals Éowyn to be a terrible cook, who proudly presents Aragorn with a bowl of "soup" containing some limp boiled leaves, one gelatinous dumpling, and a puddle of liquid shimmering with grease. As a royal princess who seems to disdain feminine activities, it makes some sense that her cooking skills are underdeveloped.
  • Jack Black's character Nacho from Nacho Libre is like this initially. Once he makes enough money (through his wrestling) to purchase better ingredients, he's capable of making dishes that at least look appetizing.
  • In the first Bridget Jones book (and movie), Bridget attempts to cook soup from scratch. The recipe says to tie some of the ingredients together with string before putting them in the pot. She uses blue plastic string and turns the soup blue. It's later referred to as String Soup.
  • In the Blue Collar Comedy Tour movie, comedian Ron White tells a joke about how his wife was such a bad cook that he tried to feed it to his dog and it started licking its butt. His wife asks "What's he doing?" and he goes "It looks like he's trying to get the taste out of his mouth!"
  • Isabelle in The Dreamers cooks for narrator Matthew and her brother Theo. The food is so badly burned that they can't tell the souffle from the ratatouille, and tastes so bad that Matthew can't swallow it. Theo happily goes downstairs and raids the neighbors' garbage for an alternative meal.
  • In Jack Frost (1997) the Sheriff manages to find out the killer snowman is vulnerable to antifreeze after it is exposed to his son's brownies. His son apparently put highly-toxic antifreeze in these brownies because he did not want his father to get cold.
  • Bullshot. Rosemary Fenton's rock-hard scones are an ongoing joke. When the hero nearly breaks a tooth on one and tries to covertly dispose of the scone, he finds every hiding place in the house already stuffed with scones discarded by previous guests.
  • Humphrey of Cannibal! The Musical:
    Miller: [seeing their dinner] You son of a bitch, Humphrey.
    Humphrey: Come on, you haven't even tried it.
    [Miller takes a mouthful]
    Miller: You son of a bitch, Humphrey.
  • In Down Periscope, on the submarine Stingray, hyper executive officer Marty Pascal is berating the cook, Buckman, for the ill-kept nature of his kitchen, when he spies an open can.
    Pascal: Jesus, Buckman! This stuff's been on the Stingray since Korea! This can expired in 1966!!
    Buckman: [tastes from the can] What's the matter, sir? It still tastes like creamed corn...
    Pascal: Except it's deviled ham!!
    Buckman: ... That would be a problem.
  • The classic Laurel and Hardy short "Saps at Sea" has them cooking breakfast for a thug. But there's no food. So they make a fake, substituting brewed chewing tobacco for coffee, string for spaghetti, red paint for sauce, sponges for meatballs, grated soap for cheese... Unfortunately he finds out and tells them to eat it first.
  • In the first Charlie's Angels film, Lucy Liu's character Alex makes completely inedible muffins. Another Angel throws one at a door, and it almost goes through, getting stuck in it. When one is slammed into a plate, it makes an ominous metallic clunk.
  • The lunch cook in Principal Takes A Holiday is shown to make barely-edible food. When the new fake principal decides to try it, he goes to the kitchen in disgust and forces the cook to eat his own food, telling him he'll have to do this from now on. When the real principal shows up, he remarks how things have improved, including the fact that the food is actually pretty decent now.
  • In the film version of The A-Team, Murdock shows some shades of this. His preparation of steak involves sprinkling cordite on them, and then flipping them over to allow it to flame up. His "special sauce" (containing anti-freeze), induced Bell's Palsy in Face (which Murdock shrugged of as "only partial paralysis"). What keeps him from being considered a full-on lethal chef is that he has been shown to be really good at the job as well. His curry tapenade is what is used to calm down B.A. after his being drugged and brought on board a ship.
  • In the Danish Pusher film series, Serbian druglord Milo runs a restaurant as his cover and likes to feed his criminal associates his creations, which are apparently terrible. In the third film, he gives his whole gang food poisoning right when he needs them most, leaving him to his own devices.
  • Played with in Annie. Annie is astonished that literally everything in Stacks' fridge is take out. She tries to ingratiate herself with him by telling him "I can make a meal out of any five ingredients you pick!" It looks at first like Annie is going to show off her "poor person ingenuity", but it comes out so disgusting that they both Spit Take on tasting it, but it works to get them talking. They get so into their conversation that they forget how gross the meal is and take another bite, only to Spit Take it again.

    Annie doesn't give up on trying to cook, though. She brings Stacks breakfast, but it's burnt toast and other stuff that is not as readily identifiable. This time, though, he gets off the hook by feeding it all to a willing Sandy.
  • Manborg has Justice, who is probably the only person in fiction or otherwise who can make boxed mac and cheese explosive.
  • In Gone in 60 Seconds (2000), it takes Kip Raines less than sixty seconds to dump salt and beer in an ugly egg scramble and serve it with a side of burnt-black toast. It's enough to make even Memphis lose his cool.
  • Jake and Eddie from Ernest Goes to Camp, especially when it comes to their infamous "Eggs Erroneous". They actually weaponize their skills in the Final Battle, using their "Liver-Loaf Lunch Arranger" to launch their less-than-palatable entrees at the miners, and the aforementioned Eggs Erroneous help destroy a bulldozer.

  • Spike Jones' "Pass the Biscuits, Mirandy" is told by a Tennessee mountaineer whose wife is one. At least when it comes to her biscuits.
  • "Could kill a man twice after eating a slice of Miss Fogarty's Christmas cake."
  • 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.

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

    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 The Navy Lark Able Seaman "Fatso" Johnson's pies prove to be rather convincing as limpet mines, and less edible.
  • 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 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.
  • Riders Radio Theater: Sidemeat's biscuits are the hardest substance known to man.

  • 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.

    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 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).
  • 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 Les Misérables, Thenardier uses horse kidneys and cat's livers to make the food he serves.

    Visual Novels 
  • Presumably out of amusement, Riko in A Profile occasionally makes completely inedible lunches for Masayuki. She's a perfectly competent cook, she just does it for fun.
  • Some examples from CLANNAD:
    • Ryou's cooking made a piglet keel over after one bite.
    • Sanae's bread is rather dangerous, though her regular cooking is quite delicious. It tends to glow in bright, ominous colors. It's also a bit of a sore subject for her.
    • The anime actually managed to combine Sanae's bread with Ayu's special jam listed below. The result was truly something to behold.
  • Ayu in Kanon was a terrible baker early on. She's quickly instructed in decent baking by Akiko in the absence of any real Supreme Chef, Yamato Nadeshiko etc character. That being said, before she improved, Ayu managed to burn rice and turn eggs into what seem to be solid lumps of charcoal. The cookies were so inedible that he couldn't even eat them to be polite as his teeth couldn't break them! Her special jam, however, is never edible.
  • In the Nasuverse...
    • Hisui cooks so badly it's considered poison if anyone but her eats it. For various reasons, no one but Ciel is willing to tell her how bad she is.
    • Caster in Fate/hollow ataraxia; since she's a Greek witch, she's entirely unfamiliar with Japanese ingredients. Kuzuki eats everything she makes, but after a while, he has enough and asks Shirou to teach Caster. Rider is mentioned to have a similar issue, though not as bad as Caster.
  • Sengoku Rance gives you Kouhime, whose dango is actually praised by a ninja... as a great assassination tool. And she made said dango under the guidance of the ninja, who is a Supreme Chef.
  • While she can make rice just fine, anything else Minori from Brass Restoration tries to cook falls squarely in the lethal category.
  • Both Jason and Melissa in the beginning of the visual novel Songs Of Araiah. In Melissa's case, she's been eating her own horrible cooking for so long that she enjoys Jason's cooking, which would be lethal cooking by anybody else's standards. Both improve their skills to a degree by the end of the game.
  • Yukino from My Girlfriend Is the President, to the point where when she tries to make a bento for the player character, it's covered in censor mosaics.
  • Yuuka in Never7. Her attempt to make toast ends up producing a horribly burnt mess with an even more horrible spread.
  • Elis in Canvas 2 is apparently completely unaware that she's a horrible cook.
  • Uruka and Aselia in Eien no Aselia have a little too much confidence for people who have never cooked before. Aselia at least makes an effort to start learning to cook properly after this.
  • Corti in Shinkyoku Soukai Polyphonica only once tried to make her favorite dish - fried eggs sandwich. It was once more than wanted.
  • Katawa Shoujo:
    • Akira is said to often have "blow(n herself) up" while cooking, with her blind younger sister Lilly doing a better job.
    • Shizune Hakamichi doesn't even seem to understand the theory behind the food she cooks. Could be explained by the fact that she's filthy rich and may not have had to ever do much cooking herself, not to mention she tends to order take-out food more than once.
  • Judge Grams of Fleuret Blanc revels in this. It's entirely possible that she knows how bizarre and disgusting her recipes are, and serves them anyway just for kicks. Fortunately, her cooking is never actually dangerous, just very off-putting. Le Neuvieme is particularly bothered by her cooking, and poisons the judges' food in an attempt to make them revoke her privileges. Interestingly, Judge Nickels doesn't seem to mind her cuisine.
  • In Code:Realize, the products of Van Helsing's cooking are never shown on-screen, but when he offers to make breakfast in his extra scenario, all of the other guys go into full Color Failure from sheer horror and leap to prevent Cardia from accepting. Even Saint-Germain seems slightly shaken.
  • In Reflections on the River, Prince Shun, despite being Zheng's captive, is keen to cook a meal for both of them, having not had much opportunity to try it before. However, he isn't very good at it, resulting in an opportunity to make friends depending on what Zheng says.
    Zheng: Did you always have chewy congee at the palace? Ow! And what's this? Crunchy, too? Is this some kind of congee and clay pot rice fusion?
  • In Nightshade, almost none of the shinobi can cook very well, but Kyara stands out; she attempts to cook dinner for the group on the first night of their mission and somehow manages to literally destroy the kitchen.

    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.
  • In this video the chef almost poisons himself.
  • 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.
  • "Cement pizza? Newbies, please!" This well known O Fortuna Misheard Lyrics video fits, if accidentally (it has even a deadly cake at the end).
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-666-and-a-half-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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • Let this be known, Madgie cannot make Kool-Aid [2]. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Monte Fjanton has the series Basses Rätt i Skafferiet, where Basse cooks disgusting food and makes his friends eat it.