A Philadelphia chef almost suffered the same excruciating fate as chef Allie Redshaw when she cut off her hand in a meat grinder accident. Joe Cicala — chef at Le Virtù — was making a routine pasta dish using an Italian pasta sheeter machine when something went wrong and his hand got caught in the device. Nearly every finger was crushed, but he is recovering and will be okay, although it was a pretty tough call.
Cicala relayed the harrowing story to Billy Penn. On Mother’s Day, the dining room at Le Virtu was full, and Cicala took the time to practice cooking a dish that he had planned to serve at a James Beard House dinner. He was working on a pasta sheeter machine when he realized the dough had gotten caught a bit inside the machine.
“So, like an idiot, I reached in and tried to force it through the machine,” Cicala told Billy Penn. “And then I just heard a crunch. Like a handful of popcorn exploded. It was so gross.”
His fingers had been sucked into the machine, and since the dining room was packed at peak dinner hour, no one could hear his screams for help.
We’ll spare you the gnarly details of this kitchen horror story, but emergency medical workers had to reverse the direction of the rollers to release his hand. It turned out that every single bone had been broken and he had to go into emergency surgery to reconnect the nerves and tendons.
Cicala was lucky. He’ll regain the use of his hand with physical therapy, but never feel his pinky ever again — a relatively benign outcome to an incident that could have ruined his career.
Even if you don’t get your hand stuck in a pasta machine, there are plenty of other kitchen hazards to watch out for — these are the 6 Most Common Kitchen Injuries and How to Treat Them.