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Playing With / Lethal Chef

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Basic Trope: A character has poor cooking skills, often to comical extremes.

  • Straight: Everything Julia tries to cook tastes bad.
  • Exaggerated:
    • Bianchi's cooking is bad enough to use as weapon!
    • Everyone pukes and runs screaming from the house when it's announced that Julia will be cooking dinner tonight.
    • Julia's cooking has a body count (and an investigation by the police, the District Attorney, or the Center for Disease Control) associated with it.
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    • Julia's cooking becomes animate and attacks people.
      • Not only that, every dish Julia makes becomes a horrible, decaying predatory monster overflowing with disease with a symbiotic relationship with maggots and rats, which spreads huge mega-overdoses of AIDS, H1N1 influenza, Ebola, gonorrhea, radiation poisoning, Zika, Spanish Flu, bubonic plague, malaria (ad nauseam) and constipation to dozens of innocents who consume it, killing them upon the first bite.
    • Julia's food contains completely inedible items as ingredients.
  • Downplayed:
    • Julia is a fair to average chef. She sucks sometimes, but can also turn out some good dishes.
    • Julia burns stuff in the kitchen all the time, but she can make a decent meal sometimes.
    • Julia is a One-Note Cook. She can cook one dish with no problem, but any attempt to cook anything else will end badly.
  • Justified:
    • Julia thinks she's a good cook, but isn't.
    • Julia isn't old enough to understand the basics of cooking.
    • Julia is dyslexic, so she has a hard time reading and comprehending the recipes.
    • Julia is a stoner and/or Cloud Cuckoolander and comes up with her culinary experiments while high or in one of her "wacky" moods.
    • Julia was never taught how to cook at any point in her life, and had to make do with what she gleaned from television and watching others, which ping-pongs between "Not bad, for someone who's never done it in her life" to "Very bad, even for someone who's never done it in her life"
    • Julia is an alien from another planet (or a Funny Foreigner from another country) where the standards of what's tasty and what isn't are very warped.
    • Julia is an experimental chef and like most experiments, things usually turn out badly.
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    • Julia is too headstrong and impulsive to bother about simple things like following the instructions or even common sense (even kindergarten-age kids know that they should wash their hands before maniulating food).
  • Inverted: Julia is a Supreme Chef.
  • Subverted:
    • We hear Julia is a horrible chef, but her food is okay.
    • Julia's food looks and smells absolutely disgusting. However, if someone gave it a chance, they'd notice that it tastes absolutely divine.
    • There is a body count associated with Julia's cooking (Exaggerated #3), but the deaths are due to diseases from severe unbalances in nutrition values. If anything, the taste is actually quite good.
    • Julia takes a cooking class, and her cooking skills improve as a result.
    • There was one occasion when Julia's food tasted appalling. However, that was because the only available ingredients were so bad, even award-winning chef Monsieur Le Bien could not make anything decent either.
  • Double Subverted:
    • She ordered take out that time.
    • The food tastes good but it still gets people sick.
  • Parodied:
    • Julia's culinary "experiments" have caught the attention of the Center for Disease Control and after her latest attempt at dinner, the CDC come in and quarantine her kitchen.
  • Zig Zagged:
    • Julia's cooking ability depends on what ingredients she has in her house. When she has enough money for groceries, she makes great food; when money's tight, it's time to break out the Tums and the airline barfbags.
    • Julia sucks at cooking actual dishes (appetizers and main courses), but is a whiz at baking and pastries.
  • Averted:
    • Julia is too lazy to cook and has never tried.
    • Julia's cooking isn't terrible, but it's not Cordon Bleu quality either.
  • Enforced: "What better way to paint Julia as a ditzy Cloudcuckoolander than to have her completely unable to cook? Brilliant!"
  • Lampshaded:
    • "Is it even POSSIBLE for chilled tomato soup to DISSOLVE THE FLIPPIN' BOWL unless it's made by Julia?"
    • "Either someone's using the Necronomicon as a cookbook, or Julia's in the kitchen again."
  • Invoked: A chef teaches Julia to cook in the most wrong ways possible.
  • Exploited: The hero finds out that Emperor Evulz needs a new chef. They have Julia apply for the job so she can assassinate the Emperor with her cooking not-skills.
  • Defied:
    • Realizing Julia doesn't know the first thing about cooking, her friends ban her from the kitchen.
    • Julia knows her cooking sucks and tries to get help for it (or says, "Fuck it!" and orders take-out food).
    • "I'm placing you in a cooking training program, in which you will remain until you get nothing but A-plus results in your assignments. If you refuse to take it, I have a collection of new implements that I have been eagerly looking forward to field-test."
  • Discussed: "Hey, Laika! Dinner at Julia's tonight! Don't forget the first aid kit, fire extinguisher and silver bullets!"
  • Conversed: "Why is it that there's always one character in these ensemble sitcoms who can't even put ice cream in a bowl without setting fire to the kitchen?"
  • Implied: The main characters take turns cooking for each other, but (as an observant viewer would notice) Julia never gets a turn.
  • Deconstructed:
    • Julia's inability to cook makes it hard for people to take her seriously as a useful member of the household.
    • Julia starts a fire with one of her cooking disasters.
    • Parodied #1 if one were to play it seriously (or comedic in a dark, gross way)
    • Julia is literal lethal chef. Her atrocious cooking ends up claiming the lives of a lot of innocent, unsuspecting people.
    • If Julia is a Funny Foreigner or an alien, her friends may develop a taste for her exotic dishes.
    • Julia is cooking for an army out in the middle of nowhere, or her impoverished family. Naturally, she has just wasted precious resources and put everyone at closer risk of starving.
    • That meal Julia just ruined was their last bit of food.
  • Reconstructed:
    • The rest of the family doesn't mind, since their taste buds are so shot, they'll eat anything.
    • The fire is put out quickly, so nobody gets hurt.
    • Julia encourages her friends to try new foods (i.e. her cooking), but they don't.
  • Played For Laughs:
  • Played For Drama:
    • Julia's lifelong dream is to become a great chef, but her inherently terrible skills and inability to improve make it hard for her to succeed.
    • Julia's cooking causes a fatal case of food poisoning and she vows never to set foot in a kitchen again.
    • "Justified #2" (the "Julia is dyslexic" excuse) and "Justified #4" (the "Julia grew up with no one to teach her how to cook") if done as a Very Special Episode of a TV show.
    • In the final episode of the show, Julia starts a fire in the kitchen. The fire burns the whole town down, and everyone dies.
  • Played For Horror: Julia is personally responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people in the worst case of mass food poisoning in the history of the country and we get to see the suffering of all of them in all of its exquisite, Body Horror-inducing detail.

Back to Lethal Chef, before she makes you actually eat it!

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