I dropped baked trout on the floor and served it to a food inspector in Cooking Simulator

It's been five busy days in the Cooking Simulator demo. Each morning I prep the restaurant's kitchen for the day ahead, which usually just involves cleaning up the mess from the day before. An order comes in, and I tap the widescreen mounted above the counter and peer at the recipe, which gives precise instructions on how to make the dish in question, right down to exactly how many grams of each ingredient to use.

Then I rush around in a blind panic because there's a very short timer for each meal and customers don't have much patience. My careful measurements go out the window as I chuck salt and pepper and thyme and oil erratically into the pot or pan, slam it onto the stovetop or into the oven, and grab a plate to serve it on, occasionally smashing the dish to pieces against the refrigerator door I've left wide open in my haste. Chopping, dicing, pouring, and spatula-ing are done in a mad rush. The meal that finally goes out to the customer usually looks terrible and at least part of it has fallen on the floor at some point. Welcome to Chez Disaster.

This is just a demo ahead of the Cooking Simulator's planned release in March, and it only contains about 30% of the recipes in the full game. Which means most of what I wind up cooking is tomato soup. I load up a pot with tomatoes and an onion, add salt, black pepper, and cayenne powder, pour in broth, and cook it on the stove for 60 seconds. Then I glop on sour cream, use the hand blender to whip it all into a liquid, spill most of it while trying to pour it from the pot into the bowl, and put it in the window for an unseen waiter to whisk it away.

The countdown timer, along with the fact that most items need to be clicked on very precisely, means things often go awry. Each ingredient costs me a bit of money, so the potatoes I drop, the broth I spill on the counter, the trout that gets stuck in the oven after slipping off the baking pan, the pork chop that bounces under the stove, all eat into my profits. If a customer is unhappy with the taste of their meal, or if it takes too long to reach their table, they'll leave a bad review. Sometimes they'll ask for a refund and leave an even worse review if they don't get one. Each day I get more and more harried and my cooking gets worse and worse. And the restaurant owner informs me on the fifth day that a food inspector is coming, which means I need to impress him.

At first I assume the inspector is a health inspector, and will be grading my kitchen on cleanliness, so I run around picking up shattered plates and errant tomatoes, flinging them into the trash. I grab a sponge and wipe spills off the counter and even attempt to wash my pots and pans (I've been emptying them over the sink but not, like, rinsing them with soap and water). Turns out the food inspector is more like a food critic, and he's ordered the baked trout, which is served with lemon and parsley.

You may not want to turn the sound on in these gifs, by the way, because at least one is drowned out by the kitchen timers I've set—they ring endlessly and don't stop until you pick them up and turn them off, and I don't have time to pick them up and turn them off because everything is going to hell, so they just ring and ring and it's really loud an annoying and makes the stress of cooking endless bowls of tomato soup and pork chop dinners even more stressful.

For the inspector's meal, I do a terrible job of chopping the lemons evenly, though I do get a single sprig of parsley on the plate without burning down the kitchen. The baked trout itself, however, is precariously balanced and when I pick up the plate it plops onto the floor at my feet. There's simply no time to bake another trout, so I do what I assume many, many chefs have done before. I scoop it off the floor with a spatula (it's too hot to use my bare hands) and re-plate it.

When the floor-trout and unevenly sliced lemon reaches the inspector, I'm pretty stunned to see it's my most successful dish yet. 4+ stars for taste and 5 stars for timeliness thanks to my unhygienic methods. Looks like the Clumsy Chef will live to cook another day!

If it's not clear, I'm having a great time with the stress and the mess of the Cooking Simulator demo. There's a sandbox mode with no timers and a fully stocked kitchen, which is nice for leisurely practicing and experimenting. There's a photomode for the dishes you cook, if you want to save your culinary creations out of personal pride (or horror). You can throw any item you pick up, so feel free to hurl knives and pumpkins and plates around in fun or frustration (keeping in mind that in normal mode you'll have to purchase whatever you break or lose).

And yes, you can burn the kitchen down. Stick a fire extinguisher in the oven and watch it explode. Put a propane tank on the grill and stand back. Use one of those little hand-held torches to set things alight and watch the fire spread. After a frustrating day spent trying to scoop trout off the floor or serving completely charred salmon to unhappy customers, it's a great way to let off a little steam. Just don't let the inspector see the mess you've made. 

The demo I played isn't freely available at the moment, but I hope it will be soon so you can try your luck in the kitchen. In the meantime, you can visit the Cooking Simulator store page on Steam for some trailers and screenshots.

Bon appetit.

Bon appetit.
Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.