The High Art of the Kitchen Prank

Some delightfully diabolical shit from Richie Nakano.

January 26, 2016 ● 2 min read

The only thing more vast than the different types of cuisine worldwide are the myriad ways in which they operate. Different standards, management styles, and rules.  

The one constant is the kitchen prank, ranging from sending the culinary school intern to look for left-handed sauté pans and spaghetti batter, to the shower of grease, trash, flour, and leftover whipped cream a beloved cook gets on their last day. Kitchen pranks aren’t all about anarchy: a kitchen’s gotta have a code. Here’s a few that make the cut.

The Aioli Crème Brûlée  

: There’s always that one food runner that single-handedly annihilates line-up tester plates every night, who isn't so much tasting single bites of each dish as much as they are enjoying a lavish buffet. It’s annoying and like, really gross to watch…but there’s an effective method to stopping it. 

The Set Up: Take a ramekin. Fill with aioli, or whatever would be really gross to take a heaping mouthful of. Brûlée sugar on top, and garnish nicely. Tell said food runner, “Hey, Chef asked me to taste you on the new dessert, can you come back here and check it out?” 

The Code: You can’t just do this haphazardly to anyone, because if you do eventually word will get out that you have a shit pastry chef.

The Hidden Kitchen Timer  

: There’s that one AM prep guy that’s, well, the fucking worst. His mise is always off, he leaves his station dirty, and once he towel-whipped you while you were bringing soup upstairs and you spilled eight liters of chicken noodle all over the stairs. Dude's a dirtbag, so…

The Set Up: Set a kitchen timer to go off a couple of hours into his shift. Hide it in his station, but be smart about it. Think: above the ceiling tiles, inside a box of dried pasta, or sitting on top of the pipes that run to the floor drains. Bonus points if it's wrapped in a towel to just barely muffle the sound. Rest assured, this person will endure a special kind of torture they have never known before.

The Code: This shit is diabolical, so it must be reserved for only the worst offenders.    

Grease Trap Fishing  

: The new pantry cook is getting wayyyyy too comfortable and also leaves their apron strewn across your station every time they go to the bathroom. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s annoying as hell. 

The Set Up: Take their apron, or civilian shoes, or winter coat. Vacuum seal it. Make sure it’s a nice clean seal, because you don't want to be liable for buying them new stuff. Tie a string to the bag, and lower into the grease bin, or something equally as disgusting. Hanging from the power lines outside of the restaurant is also acceptable. Leave a note, or better yet, a complex set of clues that will lead to their, um…treasure.


The Deep Freeze  

: The most elegantly brutal kitchen prank, the deep freeze should be reserved for only the worst of the worst—cooks that sing or tap on the counter during service, the guy that always texts you to ask you to put away his spoon bain because he left it out, the intern that talked back when you scolded him about not consolidating mise

The Set Up: Take the offender’s tools, knives, notebook, anything.  Place into a container; the bigger the better. Fill with water and throw in the freezer. Bonus points if you can disperse other items in the ice: dinner rolls, pint containers, a handful of cornmeal. 

The Code: This is strictly for teaching someone a lesson. Or letting them know that you hate their guts. 

By Richie Nakano