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One-Note Cook

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It's called Burger Rush. What did you expect, pancakes?
A character — frequently male — who is only able to make one specific kind of food, often because they're a Lethal Chef, and attempts to diversify their efforts would end in disaster. Through harsh training, they have finally become able to make one thing that is edible, at least. If it's their Trademark Favorite Food, they're in luck. Sometimes their specialty dish is widely praised as being transcendentally delicious... they just can't transfer that skill to anything else.

Sometimes Truth in Television — it's relatively common for people who aren't particularly good at cooking (even if they're not quite at Lethal Chef levels) to be able to make a few dishes fairly well. This trope lies somewhere between Supreme Chef and Lethal Chef. Also see Crippling Overspecialization for other non-culinary examples.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Saati in A.I. Love You, after learning to cook, can only make curry, even when she tries to make something else.
  • Despite the characters from Anpanman that are themed around prepared foods and meals being the best at whatever they cook, this is the ONLY thing they cook. Compared to characters with a single ingredient theme (like a single vegetable or fruit), this leads to a lot of episodes based on two of these characters battling over whose dish is the best. This is also the driving point of practically every argument the Donburiman Trio has gotten into: which donburi dish is the tastiest.
  • The Café Terrace and Its Goddesses: Ouka is able to make a pilaf that is close to what Hayato's grandma used to make (and it's actually his favorite dish). She sucks at everything else.
  • Meiling from Cardcaptor Sakura is excellent at making Chinese food, but really bad at making any non-Chinese dishes... especially baking.
  • In Coffee & Cat, Kon is noted to be an excellent cook and ends up doing most of the cooking for the Tachikawas. However, Hotsuka and Akatane complain that Kon only makes old-fashioned and traditional dishes, as Kon learned to cook from his grandfather.
  • In Gourmet Girl Graffiti, Kirin's mother only cooks fried produce.
  • Hoto Cocoa from Is the Order a Rabbit? can only make bread and related food, but she's really good at it.
  • Haruna in Is This A Zombie? can only make fried eggs... but they're really good fried eggs.
  • Erika from Kaguya-sama: Love Is War adds miso to everything she cooks and even considers grinding miso paste a form of stress release due to her family owning a Bland-Name Product version of one of Japan's largest miso producers. Several characters even refer to her as "Miso-chan" due to this reputation.
  • In Kannagi: Crazy Shrine Maidens, Tsugumi enjoys cooking. She can make eggs, vegetables, and eggs with vegetables.
  • While she starts out as a Lethal Chef, Yui in K-On! once had to take the reins of house duty when her sister Ui was sick. While Yui couldn't do all that much on her own, she did teach herself to make a mean okayu to help Ui get better. She later used this same knowledge to help Sawako, who was also sick.
  • Umi Ryuzaki from Magic Knight Rayearth claims that she is excellent at baking, "but terrible at anything else".
  • Muggle among wizards Mash Burnedead of Mashle can only make cream puffs, but he can do so out of any food using any cooking technique—arguably a form of magic in itself. It helps that they're all he's ever seen eating.
  • Monster Musume:
    • Miia is usually a Lethal Chef whose cooking represents a threat to anyone who eats it, but she actually can cook eggs pretty well.
    • Centorea is a good cook by centaur standards, but since centaurs are herbivores, her food is generally limited to raw vegetables and salads.
  • My Monster Secret: Aizawa is, at best, a mediocre cook. Except when it comes to cakes, which she can bake with Supreme Chef level skill. Oddly, she herself doesn't seem to be aware that her cakes are far superior to her other food, even when other characters point it out.
  • Nana's mother in Nana & Kaoru can make rice omelette. Just rice omelette. It's still a step up from her daughter.
  • Ringo Oginome of Penguindrum starts the series only being able to make curry, but learns how to cook more things under Himari, Shouma and Kanba's tutelage. It also serves as a metaphor for her Character Development, since curry represents her clinging to her past, and specifically the memory of her dead older sister Momoka, who loved curry to death.
  • Akane Tendo of Ranma ½ is a Lethal Chef, but it's said that when she really tries her curry is bearable, "Maybe... even tasty."
    • Ukyou, who is otherwise considered a Supreme Chef, rarely bothers cooking anything that isn't okonomiyaki. To the point that when she tried to give it up, she suffered withdrawal symptoms and ended up cooking Ranma like an okonomiyaki.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena's Anthy sticks to shaved ice. Any other meal she cooks up tend to have very interesting side-effects, which may or may not be intentional.
  • Shana of Shakugan no Shana only makes melonpan, and packs her lunchbox full of it. Then again, it's her signature food, so she probably doesn't care, and her guardian, Wilhelmina, was a far worse Lethal Chef.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • One episode has Usagi trying to cook and failing badly... until she makes curry, which Mamoru and Chibi-Usa both enjoy, the latter even asking "Can we have this every night?" In the rest of the series she's a Lethal Chef - especially when it comes to curry.
    • Rei herself isn't much of a cook either unless it's food that comes prepackaged, like curry. In one episode when the girls go on a picnic, Rei teases Usagi's shoddy attempt at home cooking leading to Usagi pointing out that at least she tried while Rei just bought fast food. In a later episode during Rei's little Imagine Spot of the things she can cook, like instant curry, she's shoved all the packages inside a food processor without even opening them.
  • Shima Shima Tora no Shimajirō: Shimataro, Shimajiro's dad, can only cook pancakes. Trying to cook anything else would end up going wrong to a certain extent (for example, a getting bit burnt from overcooking, or tasting bland because he'd forget the seasoning). Although later in the series he's had character development to be able to cook more kinds of food without messing up.
  • Nerine of SHUFFLE! can't cook, but after taking cooking lessons, she is able to make omelets (and only omelets) for lunch, in large quantities. Before she took lessons, her cooking attempts usually resulted in explosions and something worse, so when she finally learned how to cook omelets her dad wanted to create a holiday to celebrate.
  • The only dish that Hiyori in Slow Loop can prepare with confidence is sashimi from the fish she's caught.
  • Both Shirayuki and Obi have a downplayed and discussed version of this in Snow White with the Red Hair. When they get stuck cooking for the rest of the main group, though it's actually just supposed to be Obi who roped her into helping him, Shirayuki says she can only cook simple food fit for a bar since she was raised at one and all of Obi's dishes are spicy and immediately recognizable as his. They're both cooking multiple dishes but they've each got a limited repertoire of dishes they know how to cook.
  • SPY×FAMILY: Yor Forger is so terrible at cooking that nobody can eat her cooking without vomiting. In one chapter, with the help of her female friends, she manages to master a stew her mother made before she died.
  • Inverted in Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee, where Sylvette is shown to be a good cook, but whenever she serves her specialty soup, it is bound to taste horrible (to everyone except her brother, that is).
  • In Tiger & Bunny, according to his mother, Kotetsu (AKA Wild Tiger) loves fried rice so much that he never learned to cook anything else.
  • This is practically a plot point of Yakitate!! Japan. Azuma can only make bread and gets himself into trouble when part of the Pantasia's Newcomer challenge requires him to cook yakisoba. Considering the sheer variety of bread Azuma can make, this might also fall under When All You Have Is a Hammer….

    Comic Books 
  • Calvin's Dad in Calvin and Hobbes:
    Calvin's Dad: Since your mom's sick, I'm making dinner tonight.
    Calvin: You can cook?
    Calvin's Dad: As you can see, I survived two years of my own cooking when I had an apartment after college.
    Calvin: Mom says you ate frozen waffles and canned soup three times a day.
    Calvin's Dad: Your mom wasn't there, so she wouldn't know. Get the syrup out, will you?
  • Green Arrow is legendary amongst the hero community in The DCU for his chili recipe. There is zero indication that he knows how to cook anything else. Notably, his chili isn't necessarily regarded as good, just really, really hot.
  • The only thing Empowered can cook is blueberry pancakes, although her friends note that they may not be the greatest, they eat them with gusto to cheer Emp up whenever she does cook.
  • Catman only ever cooks eggs, though he once claimed he could "also make a mean slab of raw zebra haunch."
  • Lucky Luke:
    • Despite his love of food, Averell Dalton is an absolutely horrendous cook, the only food he can prepare with any degree of edibility is curried eggs (though in Dalton City, Lucky Luke claims that the dish is inedible, though he might just have been screwing with Averell as part of his plan)
    • La Diligence had a Running Gag where every one of the cooks at the stagecoach stops only knew how to make (the stagecoach says it's company mandate) bacon and beans. During the high-class dinner at the end, they STILL only serve bacon and beans, with some random extra ingredients added for each dish. To say the characters are sick of bacon and beans at that point is an understatement. The only stop that serves something else has been bribed as part of a bet.

  • Zuko in The Stalking Zuko Series can make a very good cup of tea and kebobs but they are the only things he knows how to make.
  • Superboy in With This Ring is this trope. He's a Kryptonian-human hybrid clone created by Cadmus Labs who programmed him with a variety of knowledge, but for one reason or another, only bothered to teach him two recipes, beef bourguignon and baked pears. This is actually a comic reference, the Silver Age Superman's favorite food was Beef Bourguignon with ketchup.

  • The remake of The Parent Trap has the father offer to make dinner for his ex-wife. She's surprised that he's learned to cook. It turns out he can make "pasta... or pasta... or pasta." She plays along and says "the pasta sounds good."
  • The older brother in Zathura can make one thing: water.
  • Riggs, according to Lethal Weapon 2, only knows how to make chili.
    Riggs: Do you like your chili with or without crushed Oreos?
    Rika: With, of course!
    Riggs: Heh heh. Woman after my own heart.
  • The ship's (OK, boat's) cook in PT-109 starts out only able to assemble peanut-butter sandwiches. When asked during an inspection if there is any hot food, he answers affirmatively. The boat's CO sarcastically challenges him, to which he brightly responds "Peanut butter on toast!" Later in the film, he's seen fishing - with a hand grenade.

  • Something of a reversal, rather than only making one dish, the cook in Alice in Wonderland seems to think the only ingredient is pepper. It isn't elaborated whether or not she is actually able to make anything out of this or not, but given that it's Alice in Wonderland it is definitely possible.
  • In James Herriot's All Things Wise And Wonderful, kitchen duties are temporarily taken over by Tristan Farnon, who can only cook sausage and mash — and even that is not always particularly well.
  • The Berenstain Bears Big Chapter Books: In The Berenstain Bears and Queenie's Crazy Crush, it's noted in his thoughts that Mr. Smock isn't much of a cook, to the point where he only makes peanut butter and honey sandwiches for himself. This is why he's happy to accept a dinner invite from the McBear family.
  • Discworld:
    • Albert, The Grim Reaper's manservant, can only make fry-ups. He will experiment with porridge or Hogswatch pudding, but only by frying them. Fortunately, Death doesn't need to eat. It's not that Albert can't make anything un-fried, it's that he can't wrap his brain around un-fried food, since that's all he ever eats. The fried porridge thing was considered progress. Of course, he's effectively immortal as long as he stays in Death's Domain, so he can get away with a constant diet of fried foods. He did manage a mug of cocoa once. Well, he was close. If you turned the mug sideways, it would pour out eventually.
    • Lady Sybil Vimes can similarly only do a fry-up, and that's usually frazzled, due to her insistence on using her beloved swamp dragons as her primary heat source. Fortunately, years as a street copper have resulted in Sam Vimes actually preferring greasy, frazzled food.
    • Aimsbury in Making Money can actually cook a few things, but they're all fit for a dog to eat (Topsy Lavish, an eccentric old lady, hired him to cook for her Mister Muffykins) and therefore made of odd meats that most humans would rather avoid. He even asks "Have you seen my book, Cooking with Brains?" He prefers cooking for a dog because he has to stay out of professional kitchens due to an allergy to the word "garlic".
    • Conversed in Nanny Ogg's Cookbook, where Nanny expresses the opinion that men can't cook, although some of them can cuisine. If a woman says her husband cooks, Nanny generally translates that as meaning he knows one complicated and expensive recipe that he does once a year.
  • In a variation, Molly Carpenter from the Dresden Files series is totally incapable of cooking food (Harry claims she once burned a boiled egg), but is very good at coffee.
  • Harrow the Ninth: The God-Emperor and his elite Lyctors never bothered to learn to cook in ten thousand years, so when they're holed up in their private Space Station between missions, they subsist on mediocre soups — the one thing they can all manage.
  • In The Hero and His Elf Bride Open a Pizza Parlor in Another World, Kaito is reborn in a fantasy world with the power of... pizza. He can make really good pizzas, and that's about it, though he's later shown to make a very good apple pie as well.
  • Played with a little in Homerooms & Hall Passes, which features an entire family whose members cook soup for every meal because it's their Trademark Favorite Food. This still allows for quite a bit of variety, though, since "soup" is a very broad term.
  • The Hunting of the Snark:
    He came as a Baker: but owned, when too late—
    And it drove the poor Bellman half-mad—
    He could only bake Bridecake—for which, I may state,
    No materials were to be had.
  • At one point in Little Women, Jo impulsively invites Laurie to dinner when their housekeeper/cook Hannah is taking a day off, thinking she can handle the cooking herself, and Meg expresses misgivings because the only two things Jo can cook are gingerbread and molasses candy. Sure enough, her attempt at making a full dinner turns out laughably bad.
  • In Ramona Quimby, Age 8, Ramona is intimidated when her parents task her and Beezus with cooking dinner one night because she only knows how to make Jell-O and French toast. Beezus has been taking a cooking class, however, and in the end, they make an imperfect but decent meal of chicken in yogurt sauce, rice, cornbread, and cooked pears.
  • In Lawrence Block's The Thief Who Couldn't Sleep Evan spends some time in a Turkish jail. All they serve him, three times a day, is rice pilaf. It happens to be excellent rice pilaf, but still...
  • Torture Princess: Fremd Torturchen: Justified. Kaito Sena is initially resurrected in another world by Elisabeth le Fanu to be her manservant but unfortunately, he's nearly useless in the kitchen: the only thing he's actually any good at is custard pudding. In his defense, Elisabeth prefers organ meat, which is difficult to cook well even under ideal circumstances, and the Translator Microbes she equipped him with turned out to be too effective and translate ingredients' names to him as their closest Earth equivalents, which throws off the flavor. He eventually acquires Hina, a clockwork automaton in the form of a Meido, who takes over kitchen duty much to both his and Elisabeth's relief.
  • Most of Miss Mush's food in the Wayside School series causes extremely bizarre side effects, so the students avoid it. The exception is milk and nothing. Some students even got seconds of nothing, but then Miss Mush ran out of nothing.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Friends, Rachel can only make good brownies.
  • In How I Met Your Mother, Lily tells Marshall how delicious his pancakes are and asks if he would like to make dinner sometime. He responds "Sure... how about pancakes?"
  • In the sitcom Alice, Mel's cooking is routinely slammed - even by his regular customers (curious for a diner that's apparently been running for years). Yet, he apparently makes a mean chili. (It sneaks in as a plot point in several episodes.)
  • Lois & Clark: "I can only make 4 things, and this is the only one without chocolate..."
  • Charlie from Two and a Half Men tries to learn to cook. He asks everyone how they want their eggs, and no matter what the answer is, he responds "Scrambled it is."
  • Debra from Everybody Loves Raymond can only cook lemon chicken. Everything else is disgusting. There was an episode titled "Debra Makes Something Good" where she makes braciole. However, she stops making it after that episode.
  • Subverted with Luke on Gilmore Girls - supposedly only cooks diner food, but turns out to be into fusion cuisine and high-end Italian cooking. He's shown to be just as capable a chef as Sookie when he has to cover for her at the Inn for a day, he just prefers his own restaurant. It's even shown that he doesn't even eat his own diner's food, preferring a more healthy diet for himself.
  • Heroes: When he travels back in time, the grown Hiro Nakamura is mistaken by his father to be the new chef (the Hiro of that time was a young boy). His mother orders eggs... but all Hiro knows how to make is waffles. She isn't mad at him.
  • Mistress Ploppy in Blackadder II, who prepares whatever the condemned prisoners want for their final meal...provided they ask for sausages. Otherwise they tend to get a tiny bit disappointed.
  • Super Sentai:
  • On Sweet Genius, preparing the same kind of dessert for two rounds will earn chefs a tongue-lashing from the judge. This came up frequently in the first season where the Baked round was followed by the Chocolate round, and chefs tended to make chocolate cakes for both. To be a Sweet Genius, one must be versatile.
  • During Top Gear's second road trip to Africa, Hammond rigged up a rather impressive kitchen in the back of his estate car. He then used it to cook nothing but baked beans for the duration of the trip.
  • Played with when it comes to one recurring character in All That is Miss Piddlin, a school lunch lady, who while doesn't seem to be only able to cook one thing, seems to have a psychotic obsession with peas, serving them with every meal and in large portions, only to become physically violent when someone says that they don't like them, which, unfortunately, is a lot of people.
  • In All Creatures Great And Small, Tristan can cook an excellent meal of bangers and mash. And that's it.
  • In an episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia where Mac and Dennis move to the suburbs, Mac cooks Mac and Cheese every single night. At the end of the episode, Dennis discovers that Mac has been using store-bought Mac and Cheese the entire time.
  • In The Walking Dead, it's downplayed with Daryl Dixon. Judith, his adoptive niece, says he has no idea what he's doing if he's not cooking food over a campfire, suggesting he's perfectly fine cooking anything over said campfire. It's just when he tries to cook in a more civilized setting like Alexandria or the Commonwealth that his cooking skills go out the window.

  • In the opera Paul Bunyan, the cooks Sam Sharkey and Ben Benny specialize (i.e., overspecialize) in soups and beans, respectively.

    Video Games 
  • Izumi from A3 makes curry, and pretty much nothing else. In her case, it isn't because she sucks at cooking other foods — it's shown that she can make delicious non-curry dishes if she's willing to — but because she loves curry SO much that she can't imagine cooking anything else or that other people might want to eat something else after eating nothing but curry for days.
  • Brewster from the Animal Crossing knows how to make really good coffee...and nothing else.
  • Atelier Annie has Gillian, who attempts to put herbal health drinks in everything. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, she and Melody are the only people who can even get near said herbal health drinks without gagging. The reason for this is because when Gillian's father died, Gillian wouldn't eat anything until Melody offered a herbal health drink and drank it all down despite how awful it tasted. Gillian makes them because she insisted that they'll help fight against sickness.
  • Oji from Ayakashi: Romance Reborn is only good at making rice omelets. He lets Aoi cook everything else.
  • In Fate/Grand Order, Beni-Enma who runs the inn at Hell apparently trained several of your Japanese Servants at cooking and still criticizes their work. Her complaint for Kiyohime is that she deep-fries everything.
  • Granblue Fantasy:
    • Elmott turns out to be an amazing cook, as long as it involves grilling, roasting, barbecue, or other cooking methods that involve lots of fire.
    • Beatrix has a variation - she can cook most things fine, but no matter what she tries to make it will end up impossibly sweet. Even salty dishes cooked in nothing but salt become sweet when she cooks them, to say nothing of what she creates when she actually tries to make sweets. The only thing she can prepare that tastes exactly how it's supposed to taste is salad.
  • Downplayed in Honkai: Star Rail. Arlan is able to cook just fine, but people really rave about his fried rice in particular. According to Arlan, Asta loves it, so he cooks a bowl for the Trailblazer as thanks for helping him so often at the beginning of "Punklorde Mentality". At the end of the same mission, Screwllum specifically orders some from "a certain young man" aboard the Herta Space Station. He holds Arlan's fried rice in the same regard as a fine steak garnished with lemongrass and served alongside "compound milk".
  • Ms. Dungeon from Legasista is capable of making a variety of foodstuffs. The only problem is that the only ingredients to be found in the Ivy Tower are bean sprouts (both sentient and non-sentient), meaning that everything she makes tastes like bean sprouts, much to Alto's disgust.
  • In Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII when a chef asks Lightning for help in preparing one of his recipes, she admits she's only good at grilling Behemoth steak over a campfire. Fortunately for her, it turns out the chef only needs her help to gather ingredients and not actually cook.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Otacon's adopted daughter, Sunny, is incapable of cooking anything but eggs (and even those never come out very good until an older woman comes aboard and teaches her). Justified in that she also lives in an airplane and presumably subsists entirely on military-styled rations and eggs from the three chickens on the plane. At one point, she attempts to cook a block of ramen in the same manner as fried eggs (by plopping it in a frying pan) and ends up setting a fire.
  • General Sanshi from Namu Amida Butsu! -UTENA- can only make kenchin soup, which conveniently is what his mentor and idol Tamonten likes. Whether the latter's Trademark Favorite Food just happens to be what the former's capable of or the former intentionally learned only to make it for his object of complete devotion is up to interpretation.
  • Chef Shimi from Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door can cook only with mushrooms, though this isn't much of a handicap in the Super Mario Bros. universe as he is stated to be a 5-star chef by the other NPCs.
  • In Potion Permit, Ottmar loves corn so much that he cooks only that for his beachside café. It's Subverted in a random event at Primerose Sail, where you and Leano are surprised to discover that he can cook other dishes well like fish n' chips.
  • In Persona 3 Reload, Akihiko Sanada is actually a good cook when he makes nutritious meals that line up with his athleticism (such as a pork liver stir-fry for its iron content). He is basically a fish out of water when trying to cook anything else, which leads to the protagonist needing to take control of the kitchen, as cooking something as simple, like pancakes, goes over his head.
    Akihiko: Well, let's go on and get started. Okay, first things first... Uh, what exactly do we do first? I think the recipe said to use lots of butter and to regulate the pan's temperature with a damp washcloth... Wait, we put a washcloth in the pan? Won't it burn?
    Protagonist: (lowering their head in disappointment) Please, just let me handle it...
  • In Persona 5, Joker can learn to make a damn good curry and coffee from Sojiro, but that's it. It's all Sojiro ever seems to make, because it's all anyone at his coffee shop ever orders. Averted for Joker in the sequel Persona 5 Strikers, where he can replicate any gourmet dish after he gets a taste just once.
  • Pokémon:
    • In Pokémon Sword and Shield, the protagonist is only shown cooking variations of curry, though sometimes they shake it up by serving it with giant Chansey eggs, adding sausages, or including burger steaks. But they can potentially be very good at it, so much so that if a Charizard-class curry is fed to a Pokémon, it will completely heal their HP, PP, and status on top of giving them a chunk of experience and boosting their friendship with you.
    • Pokémon Legends: Arceus: Beni is only ever seen making potato mochi, but he's apparently pretty good at it. At one point, he comments that he should learn to make other foods before everyone gets tired of his potato mochi.
  • Inverted in RPG Shooter: Starwish. Supreme Chef Johnny can make everything delicious except one thing: Eternal Swamp Gumboo.
  • Forte from Rune Factory 4 is fine with salads and sashimi, but can't cook anything else to save her life. Her reasoning is that all her training as a knight has made her skilled with a blade, but attempts involving pots and ovens don't translate so well.
  • Everyone who cooks in Mordavia in Quest for Glory IV has some kind of compulsion to put garlic in everything. Lots and lots of garlic. It might have something to do with the vampires running around, or that the creature that acts as the Dark One's symbol likes garlic.
  • In The Sims 2, sims who botch using the ReNuYu Aspiration Changer end up with the "Grilled Cheese" aspiration. All their wants, fears, and dreams revolve around cooking, eating, and serving grilled cheese sandwiches. In addition, grilled cheese sandwiches normally require two skill points in Cooking and can only be cooked for lunch or dinner, but Grilled Cheese sims can prepare them at any time, without any points in Cooking.
  • Street Fighter IV gives us El Fuerte, who is apparently very good when cooking Mexican food. However, when he wants to experiment with any other kind of food, he turns into a Cordon Bleugh Chef. And he'll gladly prepare some food for any opponent he defeats...
  • Flora of the Story of Seasons series is a Lethal Chef for anything that isn't curry. She knows it, hence it's all she cooks. Unfortunately for her, this has resulted in her boss/love interest Carter being sick to death of the stuff.
  • Sunless Sea: The Bandaged Poissonier is a special case; as the name tells, he's a magnificent cook when it comes to fish, especially the weird sorts of fish (and other monstrosities) that dwell in the Unterzee. In terms of other foodstuffs... it's not that he's incapable, as he still begrudgingly manages, the problem's that he's unwilling to cook anything outside of fish, thinking it a waste of his talents. He's insulted kings over it and preferred to abandon the country entirely rather than continue cooking for someone who'd clearly rather stuff themselves with inferior meals.
  • Somewhat of an example with Lethal Chef Raine in Tales of Symphonia, gameplay-mechanics-wise. Her cooking skill for almost all of the recipes in the game max out at two stars (for most characters, that only applies to a few recipes they happen to be "bad" at). However, her ability to cook spaghetti is better than that for the other recipes... that one maxes out at three stars. (And she starts out with one star on that recipe, instead of starting with zero stars for all the other recipes.) It's pointed out that she's not a bad chef, she just can't help experimenting with ingredients that do not belong together (for example, all her recipes can use lemon as an extra ingredient), which suggests that spaghetti is simply one of the few foods versatile enough to resist being catastrophically affected by her dabbling.
    • In the same game, Colette will add fruit to a good amount of her recipes (and the recipes she's best at are fruit-based). This is taken to the extreme in a skit in the sequel, where she prepares a three-course meal entirely out of fruit.
    • From the same series but a different game, Repede from Tales of Vesperia takes this trope to its logical conclusion. Repede can be given any of the recipes to cook (of which there are a lot), and he even has a surprisingly low failure rate. Except regardless of whether you have him make a sandwich, a sorbet, or hot pot, or anything else, all Repede can make... is dog food.
  • Papyrus from Undertale can only cook spaghetti, and even that is barely edible (although he seems to be steadily, albeit very slowly, improving at it).
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2:
    • Vess is only able to cook a particular type of dumpling, something Team Rex comments on when it's the only thing she serves them when inviting them for a meal. But Team Rex, her Driver Mabon, and Mabon's kids all agree that the dumplings are exceptionally tasty, so it's not considered a particular handicap.
    • In Torna: The Golden Country, Mythra (who is otherwise a notorious Lethal Chef) has one decent recipe, Miracle Parfait, and she has to learn it over the course of the game. The rest of her "Creative" Cuisine consists of Joke Items.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Sena is able to make really good onigiri, to the point that it becomes a plot element in a side quest, and one of the recruitable heroes incorporates it into their new name. Sena lets other members of her party handle anything else.

    Visual Novels 
  • Minori in Brass Restoration can make rice, and pure evil.
  • Tohno Shiki from Tsukihime is good at making noodles.
  • Inverted in Kanon where Akiko can make everything, except a Special Jam which can file her under Lethal Chef.
  • Haruka from Little Busters! can make some quite nice egg dishes if she works hard on them, but is pretty terrible at anything else. This is because her twin sister Kanata told her that she was allergic to eggs when they were little, so Haruka focused on them as the one thing she could do that Kanata couldn't.
  • When it's Rin's turn to cook in Fate/stay night, she's careful to stick with the few dishes she's confident at making.
    • A recurring joke in the franchise is that the Knights of the Round Table dreaded whenever Gawain ended up in charge of meals because the only thing he makes is truckloads of mashed potatoes. No one is really sure where he even got ahold of potatoes in the pre-medieval British Isles, but one thing is certain: he has them and he has a lot of them.

  • Erma: When Erma and her parents arrive in Japan for the Yureimoto family reunion, Haru serves a breakfast that consists entirely of cucumbers in different cuts and with different sauces (he's a kappa, and he notes that they're "kind of our main thing to eat"). Kentaro is disappointed that they didn't get anything more rib-sticking (he wanted pancakes specifically), but the others seem to find it satisfying.
    Sam: I'm noticing a certain theme in today's breakfast.
  • The company chef in Schlock Mercenary only makes things that involve whisking. Presumably because he has a whisk for a prosthesis. (It does allow for a serviceable hand-weapon, however.)
  • Karin-dou 4koma: The only food Meguru can cook without burning to a crisp is karaage, but when she does make karaage it always turns out in massive quantities for some reason.
  • Due to her dietary restrictions as a wolf, Florence Ambrose from Freefall can only work with meat or fish and very minimal seasoning. That said, she can prepare a venison dinner from roadkill in a Greasy Spoon diner kitchen.

    Web Original 
  • SCP-458 is a pizza delivery box which, when handled, always contains a pizza of the handler's favourite style with their favourite toppings, within the realm of human comestibles. It can produce pizza from any and all major pizza chains, as well as from local pizzerias and even homemade pizzas, but pizza is all it can produce. It is currently being, uh, "contained" in the site staff room.
  • Gay Spaghetti Chef of Khonjin House only seems to be able to make spaghetti despite working on and off at a pizzeria, talking about pizza, and taking orders for pizza, much to Khonjin's frustration.
  • Ordinary Sausage makes anything but ordinary sausages. He'll take any whole food or ingredient, grind them up, fill it in a sausage casing, then cooks 'em and eats 'em. Naturally, results are varied.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Mickey Mouse Works short "Mickey Tries to Cook", Minnie berates Mickey for only being able to make cheese, ham, and tomato sandwiches, and thus that's all they ever eat at picnics. Mickey's attempts to learn how to cook something else end in disaster.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants is an excellent fry cook, but shows little to no culinary ability otherwise. He's once shown having no idea what a sa-lad was, and when he learned, the concept of tomatoes and lettuce without a bun and patty freaked him out. When he trades places with a chef for a fancy restaurant, his attempts at haute cuisine end up turning into Krabby Patties (although they taste so good that even the most discriminating customers won't turn them down). One episode centers around him trying to make himself an ice cream sundae, but, lacking ingredients, he substitutes random junk that give him lethally bad breath. In an episode where got fired in his job at the Krusty Krab, he tries to work at other restaurants, which consist of a hot dog joint, a pizza place, a taco shack, and a Chinese restaurant. All of the places, he worked at at has him making them into a variant of a Krabby Patty, with the food of that place placed between the buns.
  • In A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown expresses (and demonstrates) an inability to make anything other than cold cereal "and maybe toast".note  He serves cold cereal again in Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown, (though apparently no one else even thought to bring food on their river-raft expedition).
  • In an episode of The Venture Brothers, Sergeant Hatred takes over Hank's greasy spoon diner he's opened on the family compound but admits that he only knows how to make scrambled eggs with ketchup.
  • Doug: In the episode "Doug's Cookin'," we see that Doug, and maybe by extension his entire family, has several books on making grilled cheese sandwiches. That suggests Doug can make mean cheese sandwiches. By the end of the episode, he and Patti also make a successful pizza.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog: After Muriel's Aunt Gertrude confides that vinegar is the secret ingredient to her famous raspberry jam, she begins putting it in every dish she makes thereafter (candy, pancakes, PB&J sandwiches, etcetera, etcetera). Her results vary.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: Eddy often brags at others (especially when he's cooking) on how his omelets are the best and everyone needs to try them. For everything else, he's a mess in the kitchen, if the cooking class at school is any evidence. This is, of course, Eddy talking, so it's intentionally left ambiguous as to whether his omelets are actually as good as he says or it's just another one of his shameless boasts.
  • Bob Belcher from Bob's Burgers makes good burgers - Fantastic burgers, when it really matters. And of course, him being a One-Note Cook is justified by the fact that his restaurant is named...well, Bob's Burgers. He's still decently competent at cooking other food, and puts a lot of care and effort into things like Thanksgiving turkey - his excellent turkey has been a plot point in at least two episodes.
  • The Loud House: The episode "Fed Up" reveals that Lynn Sr. makes the same seven dishes for dinner each nightnote , which he repeats every single week. However, it's justified in that the Louds are on a budget and have to feed 13 different people, so preparing large enough nutritious meals for everyone can be difficult. But in the end, even Lynn Sr. realizes that they should mix it up once in a while, and sure enough he's proven in several other episodes to be a brilliant chef when given the chance to shine (particularly his lasagna). Just don't ask for his cabbage casserole.

    Real Life 
  • Although not that common in the U.S., many countries with a strong culture of cheap outside dining will have cooks who are extremely good at making things like tacos, pancakes, noodles, etc. These same cooks may also be absolute shit at cooking anything else, sometimes not even being able to cook their own meals aside from their specialty.
    • Chef Duff from Ace of Cakes subverted this when he performed on Iron Chef America, and made excellent food. He still lost to Michael Symon, though.
    • Bobby Flay gets accusations of this. While he's usually not abysmal at cooking outside of his element, his style heavily leans on the usage of hot peppers - you can practically predict how close of a match he'll have in Iron Chef or Throwdown based on how well the secret ingredient/proposed dish would work with spicy peppers thrown in.
  • Since professional cooking encompasses such a wide variety, it is inevitable that there are certain cooks/chefs who are specialists. As such, while they may be excellent, even famed, at said specialization, they might not do so well outside of it.
  • When a Starving Student graduates from Ramen as Dehydrated Noodles, they often become this (hopefully only temporarily). Spaghetti and marinara? Beans and rice? It gets old after a while, but it'll keep body and soul together while you wrap up your coursework.
  • Certain Japanese sushi cooks are this. Becoming a cook in a sushi restaurant is a long procedure of learning (7 years, to be exact, and the first year of that is literally nothing but learning how to sharpen the knives), if wanting to be one that is allowed to serve blowfish, they need to do an additional apprenticeship of several years. It happens that certain cooks are so specialized at sashimi, that they don't even know how to work a pan or how to cook rice themselves, having sous chefs that do that for them.
    • It applies to an extent to many other restaurants in Japan, especially food stalls. Rather than cooking foods with a multitude of techniques, restaurants tend to specialize in one and then tend to innovate around that. For example, a shop may only make yakitori (grilled chicken on skewers) but will have dozens of combinations of different seasonings and cuts of chicken (wing sections, thighs, breast, tenderloin, gizzards, livers, hearts, etc.) with which they make their mark.

Alternative Title(s): One Note Chef