Blood in the Kitchen: Houston Chefs Share Some Horrific Tales

Categories: Off the Wall

shepherdandmeat.jpg
Photo by Troy Fields
Underbelly chef and owner Chris Shepherd holds a house-cured ham.
Chris Shepherd, owner and executive chef of Underbelly:

Shepherd immediately told me that he had a gruesome kitchen injury story. He didn't need to go into anecdotes of other things he's seen. His own mishap was scary enough.

"I was breaking down a pig almost four years ago. It was the middle of service, and we had a full restaurant because we were doing a wine dinner. We put out the fish course, and I'd just gotten a pig in from Revival. I was cutting it, and I went into a feather bone (more like cartilage than actual bone), and the knife just went right through it and into my wrist. It split my artery right in half. There was a lot of blood. I just kind of tied it up and looked at my GM and said, 'You need to take me to a hospital.' It was really dark blood, so I knew it was arterial blood. He just looked at me cause he was so busy, and I was like, 'Just call me an ambulance, man.'

"I sat down for a few minutes and had the presence of mind to tell my servers to tell the ambulance to come around back, rather than busting through the restaurant. So I went to the hospital, and they put three or four stitches across the cut. And I was like, 'That's it?' And the guy was like, 'You have two artieries in your wrist, and you only need one.' That night, I went back to work, but within a couple of days, my arm started to swell. It was basically filling up with blood.

"I'm friends with the head doctor for the Texans, so I called him on a Friday night, and he called his hand specialist. Then I got a call at 9 p.m. on Friday during service. The specialist told me to meet him at his office on Saturday morning. I asked if he had Saturday hours, and he said for me he did. He was able to get me into the OR for surgery on Monday morning, and it took five hours of surgery to put the artery back together.

"I got out of the hospital at nine that night, and my sous chef was going to Spain the next day, so I went right back to work.

IMG_7053.jpeg
Photo by Chris Shepherd
The scar reminds Shepherd to be very careful in the kitchen.
Shepherd still has a fairly dark scar on his wrist from the injury, and these days, he's sure to protect his wrists when he breaks down large cuts of meat. He wears a guard on his wrist, and he has a leather sheath in the works.

When you walk into Underbelly's dining area, you pass a wall of woodcuts. Two of the pieces -- of a hand and a knife -- are a nod to the incident, which Shepherd says he wants to remember.

"They're in remembrance and respect for what happened," Shepherd says. "That could have been really bad, but I was lucky."

underbellywoodcuts.jpg
Photos by Chris Shepherd

Location Info

Prego

2520 Amherst, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Trevisio Restaurant

6550 Bertner St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Goro & Gun - CLOSED

306 Main St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

The Modular

, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Underbelly

1100 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant


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16 comments
RickyRescue
RickyRescue

Yo Chris, arterial blood is bright red, not dark. (Still sounds serious.)

Suzy Bruisie Q Stone
Suzy Bruisie Q Stone

Cut a little piece of my thumb off once. Can't really tell without looking at the other one.

Mahira863
Mahira863

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rgwalt
rgwalt

The dude from page 4 is lucky he still has that hand/arm.  Seriously.  Another day or two = gangrene followed by amputation, or at best devistatingly strong course of anti-biotics plus maggot therapy.

TimP
TimP

My chef/cook bro managed to spill very hot stock onto his feet on his first day on the line at a very prestigious kitchen in New Orleans on his first day where they were taking a bit of a chance on hiring him as he had a thin resume at the time.  Serious burns on the tops of his feet, but he worked through the shift.  When he got home, I asked him if he'd at least put some burn cream on his feet and he just laughed.

Jennifer Ridgway
Jennifer Ridgway

just to warn those as squeamish as me...absolutely don't look at the photos or read page 5. Ack!

Kathy Stabe
Kathy Stabe

They will not superglue you at the ER. Superglue is a field medic trick. You get stitches when you see doctors. When you do use superglue, you're still supposed to go see a doctor. And if you cut part of your finger off? You are not supposed to just glue it back on. Superglue is a trick for incisions, not amputations.

Timothy Black
Timothy Black

well yea, that's all they'll do the ER half the time. Except they'll charge you $500+ to do it. Superglue is pretty common and effective at that sort of thing.

Ron Prichard
Ron Prichard

James Brock I hope they did not take these photos at your house.

erichenao
erichenao topcommenter

Perfect timing for Halloween!!!

KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@rgwalt One of the grossest things I've ever seen.

KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@Alexander_Bites Why thank you. I was going for shock factor. Did you see the burn photo on page 4? SO MUCH WORSE.

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