The Scars of Charlotte Chefs
Charlotte’s prominent chefs share their worst moments in the kitchen— and the marks they have to remember them
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300 East: Kristine Schmidt
"One day in the kitchen, a No. 10 can of chickpeas or tomatoes rolled off of the shelf and landed on my foot. It hurt, and I probably screamed a couple of curse words. But it was busy, so I went on with the day. I didn’t really think about it until the days went on, turning into weeks, and my foot started killing me. I just thought it was something I could take care of during vacation in a few weeks. So I just kept working, working, and I would prop my leg up on a stool it hurt so bad. … Finally, I got to my vacation, had a little party at my house, and my dog was sleeping on the steps outside. I tried to step around him so I wouldn’t step on his tail, missed the step, fell, and then cracked my foot—the bone—in half. When I went for the Xrays, they said, ‘You’ve had a fracture for several weeks.’ I had fractured my foot when the can fell on it.
I got a pin put in my foot, because they said if you get the pin put in your foot, it’s not going to break again. I said, ‘Well, let’s just do that.’ I got that done and knew I was going to be on crutches and in a boot for six months. It didn’t seem like a big deal. One of the guys in the back is a drummer, so he brought in his drummer stool, and I would sit on that or stand on one crutch to do prep.
Two or three weeks into it, it was one of those sum - mer Saturdays where everybody [on staff] had something to do and all of my star players were not going to be there. I thought, well, OK. ... I’ll get one of those office rolling chairs, and roll back and forth from the refrigera - tor, the grill, and then I’ll get up on my one good foot and grab the tickets [for orders] off the printer. … The restaurant had never been so busy. … The kitchen floor is sloped because it’s a really old building. So while trying to roll uphill to get to the refrigerator to get steaks and stuff out, if I let go, I would roll back, and I’d have to keep crawling up this hill. It was horrible. I was burning my arms on the grill because I was level with it, trying to reach and get something from the back. Everybody in the kitchen was afraid to speak. They didn’t know what to do; they couldn’t help me. At one point, I was trying to put cheese on a burger. One of the waitresses came up and said, ‘They don’t want any cheese.’ She’d taken the order wrong. I got so mad, I took the piece of cheese and just threw it in the air, and it stuck to something. I never found it. It was the night from hell.”