We’ve all been there. Sitting in our favorite eatery, eagerly awaiting a warm meal, when all of a sudden the server appears with a tray of delectable food, kitchen doors still flapping in the distance. One by one, guests are presented with their respective dishes, only a few patient moments before everyone can dig in. And yet by the time the server has made it around the table there always seems to be that one plate that warrants precautionary advice. “Be careful, this plate is really hot.”
Really hot? But why? Perhaps that meal was prepared quickest and therefore sat beneath a heat lamp the longest. Or maybe, to the contrary, it took the longest to prepare and the food it contains was most recently removed from a stove or oven. Who knows? Maybe the plate was just pulled from a heated dry cycle in an industrial strength dishwasher. Whatever the case may be, that plate is obviously a danger to the restaurant guest who, unlike the server, hasn’t held so many blisteringly hot plates that they’ve become numb to the sensation of being burned.
Earlier this week local software developer and avid Yelp reviewer Jason Evans learned the hard way just how serious the waitstaff is when warning patrons about exceptionally hot plates. After a Sunday afternoon chock-full of long overdue lawn care, a famished Evans headed to his favorite Tex-Mex joint to load up on chips and salsa, his go-to beef enchiladas, and a salted frozen margarita (with sangria swirl for good measure). “Dude, I was starving,” explains Evans, who recalls how excited he was to fuel up on savory Mexican food that day. Little did he know his eagerness to eat, coupled with his own curiosity, would soon cause his Sunday to take a turn for the worst.
Evans remembers being mindful not to gorge on chips and salsa as to leave ample room for the hearty enchiladas that were to follow. “I always end up eating so many chips that I’m full by the time the food comes out, but I tried to hold back ‘cause I was so stoked for my ‘ladas,” he recalls. A little exercised restraint and, before he knew it, long-time employee at the restaurant, Susan Ingram, emerged from the kitchen with serving tray and foldable stand in hand.
After having watched multiple dishes be run to other waiting customers, Evans was quite pleased to see that the food Ingram toted was in fact destined for his table. Utilizing a hand towel folded over multiple times, she transferred the enchiladas from her tray onto Evans’ placemat, an arch of steam bellowing from the plate as it moved. “I told him it was ‘extra hot, so be careful,’” Ingram clarifies. Despite having had fair warning about the plate’s heat, a retrospective Evans explains that he “had to know.” He “couldn’t not check.” In a lapse of judgment he reached down and confidently grasped the rim of the plate using his thumb, index, and middle finger.
Much to Evans’ dismay, the plate emitted an instant wave of extreme heat through his fingers and he quickly began shaking out his hand in pain. An exclamation of several reactionary obscenities drew some nearby customers’ attention to an Evans who was now overcome with total discomfort and regret. According to Evans “it hurt so bad, my God. I just held my ‘marg and hoped the coldness would help.” His story is somewhat of a case study in why it’s important not to undermine waitstaff when it comes to their oversight of customers’ dining experiences.
Evans claims that using his utensils was difficult following the injury and he intends to take hot plate warnings more seriously in the future. He told us he has stuck to a regiment of aloe vera gel application since the incident, and the affected area should be fully healed within the next few days.
This article was written by Paddy, the man, the myth, the grillmaster. Follow him for more @Paddy.jpeg.