A’Right Friday Fryer ‘Uck’ Up! 1981

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A’Right Friday Fryer ‘Uck’ Up! 1981

I thoroughly enjoyed my days at college in the early 80’s – it was a time of discovery. it was excellent to be away from school – school was a drag – but college wasn’t! My college days were both naughty and nice, risky and reticent, foolishly harmless and in a nutshell at times recklessly dangerous! The latter wasn’t introduced by others per se … it WAS introduced by my reckless behaviour, my love for a gaff and a laugh and acting the fool. I made a lot of people happy and enthusiastic and motivated ………… a lot of people, but not all.

I discovered lots of different things mostly about the opposite sex, l sort of discovered sex but not really, l discovered really … the antics that people went to and through to get sex and as an observer it was fascinating! Other things l discovered that were more upsetting than fascinating was that l apparently had a knack for pissing people off … one of those people was my Chef Lecturer!

I had a love hate relationship with Chef Swalloe – ex military – very pristine – very precision orientated – very non-whistling, very serious – that Mr Swalloe. It’s not that he hated me … l wouldn’t go that far, he liked me at the end of my three years .. although that MAY well have been on account of the fact that l was leaving the college and never to return – not even to feed the  ducks!

I am somewhat legion at being clumsy and accidental, unbalanced, lanky whatever and whichever terms you like to use … my biggest problem although l am better as l have aged …….. well sort of, is that l am so forward thinking, that l don’t think of what l am doing properly at the time in the present. Many might term it as ‘unthinking, unblinking’ or ‘running before crawling’. Matters not, over the years with a multitude of accidents and scars to my name and body, l am slowly – learning!

But in college at the tender age [not a word many would use to describe me then ‘tender’] of eighteen and a half [that’s important] l was more than just naive to certain things l was plain dumb! I was a bright kid, but many described me as ‘lights on no one home’, a few sandwiches short of a picnic’ and even others thought l wasn’t just plain dumb but playing dumb!



I was not guilty of any of these things … l just had a very fast mind and unless something was a hyper focused special interest everything else was boooooooooooooooooring! If l was bored, l could fall asleep standing up, against walls, in cars on bumpy roads, on the toilet – l would just switch off! It’s why these days l have to have eclectism in my blog, lots of different things to keep me stimulated … it’s gotten worse and more demanding as l have aged, but if anything it has and it hasn’t … these days my mind is like it was when l was the age l was in 1981.

The day in question was a Friday – the college back then was closed on the weekend and so once every two weeks the kitchen deep fat fryers had to be emptied off and cleaned out and refilled. Of course, today l know more about more, and despite back then thinking l knew what l needed to know, back then l realised as indeed did Mr Swalloe that l didn’t know enough!!

The whole two hours worth of lesson was to concentrate upon kitchen hygienes and clean ups. There were 15 of us and we each had a task assigned to us. Mine that day was to clean out the dreaded deep double unit fat fryers!

I say dreaded because the task at hand was overwhelming and a three hour job – it was all too easy to get it wrong and whilst Mr Swalloe or Chef Swalloe as he preferred to be called in the kitchen was a quality chef – he was not a person you wanted to upset! Of course … as discussed l had a tendency of doing just that!

I can achieve it at times just by looking at some people and smiling – l kid you not! I smile they grimace! It’s most disconcerting!!


“Chef have you read up about this task l have set for you this morning?” Chef Swalloe enquired of me.

“Yes chef …” I answered, referring to his title correctly.

“Right, l do hope so Mr Matier – these deep fat fryers are NOT something you want to go horribly wrong on you are they? Know why? No? Because if they go bang,  there is usually lots of hot burning oil in the air and maybe a fire or two … and that just sounds really nasty doesn’t it?”

“Yes chef, it most assuredly does. I’ll do my best to impress chef!” I answered dilligently.

“Don’t impress me chef, impress the fryers do them proud!”

To the unknowing when cleaning a deep fat fryer there are things you should do and things you shouldn’t do ….

Do List

Don’t Do List

… and Checklist

Be Prepared

Make sure you have everything you need at hand. Such as the right brushes and scrapers.

Turn off and unplug fryers

Make sure oils are cool before draining.

Keep all cables out of liquids.

Wear protective clothing, gloves, apron and goggles.

Be Unprepared!

Piss off Mr Swalloe


Drain off all old oils into suitable container


Make sure fryer baskets are thoroughly cleaned, scrubbed and scoured and all residues are rinsed off!


Once oils are drained ensure all bits of food, scraps and debris are removed and hot solutioned waters are used to clean and remove stains and dirts. Scrape off persistent grime where and when required.

Do not use regular washing up liquids …………… oops.

Remove the filter pans and do not put them back in until the cleaning process is complete!!!

Remove all other moveable parts in order to clean properly.

………… oh? Ooops!! Best not tell anyone!!

Be forever mindful of the heating elements – they are delicate – treat carefully ….


Leave the fryer in solution for two hours ….

Check! [well mostly on account of it being normal soapy liquid]

Drain off solution once process is complete and dry off residues using correct drying towels.

Crikey seriously – very close to lunch time and have l really got to be in here when no one else is??

Basically – clean the damn thing thoroughly and properly!!

Check … pretty sure l have!

When the fryer is completely cleaned pour some clean new oil into the compartments to test for any remaining residue waters and these will drain out of your OPEN drain valve …. this is very important!

………… er?

Finally clean the fryer base pan!

Reassemble the fryer!

Put in fresh oils…


I spent three hours cleaning the fryer that Friday ……. well ish, l spent three hours cleaning the fryer and having lunch and doing some studying … l did clean the fryer though … l did everything …. ish! I did also forget a couple of things …. sadly not small things, huge nearly expelled errors that were noticed Monday morning during first classes.

I had to pay towards the new fryers for Kitchen 3 and some of the damages in that kitchen but luckily the insurances picked up the rest and it was put down to ‘accidental error’.

But luckily no one was hurt, or killed or maimed … three chefs passed out of which one was very confusing, he was so big and burly and no one thought that a muscle building chef structured like a shit house scared of nothing or as he would say ‘NUFFINK!!’ would pass out with the small fryer explosion. Admittedly he was only 13 or so feet away and “It caught me off guard which is why l fainted and made a funny squealing noise!!”

You see l did everything right except for the things that l did terribly wrong … like forgetting to take out all of the wrong soapy water and damaging one of the elements on account of using a metal scraper and not a plastic one – that was the error that saved me .. we used to have scourers for the tables and the fryers and l accidentally picked up the wrong one. The new oil when placed into the compartments sat on old soapy waters which had been sitting over the weekend. So when the fryer started to heat up the damaged element had as much of an issue with the oil as did the new oil have with waters in the vats.

Whilst Chef Swalloe had checked the fryer after l had finished with it – all my errors were not visible to the naked eye and so he had no reason to suspect A’Right Friday Fryer ‘Uck’ Up!!’

The fryer heated up and basically exploded, one of the fryer pans went through the glass windows and landed near the Dean’s car three floors down, the other frying basket broke a fan in the kitchen ceiling and hot oil splattered the rest of the front part of the kitchen.


The fryer burst a gasket valve and the remaining oils slipped out of the shut but now blown open drain pans ….. All the trainee chefs were at the back with the lecturer … the ones not of faint heart and lying comatose on the tiled floors heard Chef Swalloe yell out my name which was heard down in the restaurant on the ground floor, strangely enough by me and l nearly set fire to the Dean’s secretary whilst serving flambéed crêpes Suzette ….


…….. which would not have been funny and yet – do you know what is strange? That’s actually happened, but maybe for another time!

Shall we say that the fryer incident didn’t endear me to Chef Swalloe and more so when in my defence l said “We should all be pleased that no one actually died shouldn’t we, mistakes and accidents can happen am l right??”

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16 thoughts on “A’Right Friday Fryer ‘Uck’ Up! 1981

  1. Your exploding fryer beats my toaster on fire! I’ve never been around a restaurant sized fryer, just a home one. It hasn’t exploded…yet😉💥🤣🤣

    1. For a while in my life it seemed everything l touched or even walked by blew up, burst into flames or exploded 🙂 Guess l am or was just lucky 🙂

        1. Always good to have a fire lit occasionally Emily – you write cracking posts and they need to be seen, read and shared some more – it’s always a pleasure 🙂

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