This article reminded me of my one of my restaurant jobs in the late 80s.
On Sunday’s I used to help grind fresh horseradish when I worked prep at the original Jake O’Shaugnessey’s restaurant (now closed and replaced entirely by the building complex containing the Metropolitan Market on Queen Anne in Seattle – I’ve searched the web and can’t find a single photo of the place, which is frustrating!). Horseradish root is fairly benign in small quantities but sticking many pounds of the stuff it into a 2 horsepower grinder aerosolizes the juice, which in turn creates a mild form of mustard gas, which I’m sure you remember from the history of World War 1 is Not A Good Thing.
Generally speaking you can’t afford to have your restaurant patrons nerve-gassed so we used 500 foot roles of commercial plastic wrap to contain the evil inside multiple air-gapped spaces. I helped on the kitchen setup and did the peeling and prep to get the horseradish roots ready to go. We then started out building up our containment system by wrapping the entire floor-mounted Hobart completely and cut out the feed hole. This is the kind of machine we were using:
We plastic wrapped a small room-within-a-room around that containing the horse, the chef and the Hobart. We also plastic wrapped the doors in the kitchen and then turned on all the hoods on high. After that the only person inside the entire restaurant was the head chef, who wore a hazmat suit, arm-pit length heavy rubber gloves, a gasmask and knee-high muck boots.
Fresh horseradish isn’t actually nearly as hot as the powdered stuff, so we liked to to power it up. For that we had a small brown bottle labelled with a skull and cross bones which actually said “POISON” on it. I have no idea exactly what it was an extract of but we were so wary of the stuff we kept it in the restaurant safe. According to the head chef the bottle was many years old and he couldn’t buy it anymore. He put a bit into every huge batch of horse we made and the bottle was still half full, which should give you an approximate idea of how powerful it was.
We left the restaurant until it was over and waited awhile for the air to clear via the hoods after he was done, hosed down all the contaminated surfaces as we pulled off the plastic and finally mopped the floor.
We then served the resulting horse-radish, ground through a meat grinder so that we’d get a rougher texture than a puree, to our patrons every night. Bon appetit!