When you open a new restaurant you have to make a splash. Cooking the same old stuff as everyone else isn't going to get you noticed. Think outside the box. Push the envelope. Take every single ingredient in the kitchen, deep fry all of them together, plop 'em in a single bowl, call it Deep Fried Everything, and charge $100 for it.
Yeah, that'll get you noticed. That'll make you the next Top Chef. Or it'll leave you curled up in a ball under a tree having a stress-fueled breakdown in your little chef's hat. One or the other.
I've been playing Early Access restaurant sim Recipe for Disaster and having a pretty good time so far. You create a character (mine is Chef Chris), open a restaurant, set up furniture, bathrooms, kitchen equipment, and decorations. Hire a small staff to help you cook, clean, and wait tables. Create recipes, add new items to the menu, and hope your customers leave good reviews, or at least learn something from the bad ones. Turns out running a restaurant is pretty involved.
It can be a bit hectic at times when the kitchen catches fire because your cooks aren't skilled enough, or if you run out of ingredients and customers leave because you can't serve them the meals they want, or if you decide the only item on your menu will be Deep Fried Everything and offer absolutely nothing else.
I have to confess that Deep Fried Everything isn't quite everything. I did try to create a recipe using every single item of food available, but unfortunately, as far as I can tell you can only combine six different dishes into a single meal, and each of those dishes can only have five ingredients, which means Deep Fried Everything has 30 deep fried things in it instead of every deep fried thing.
It's still an awful lot of stuff! Chicken breast, ground beef, lobster, shrimp, clams, chocolate, eggs, garlic, blueberries, butter, milk, condensed milk, spaghetti, ice cream, chili powder, beans… the list goes on. I think it's gonna be a hit. It's literally got something for everybody.
On day one of my new restaurant, that everybody is one guy, because I only have one table and one chair. I just want to do a little test to see if Deep Fried Everything goes over well. I take the order for one Deep Fried Everything and immediately have to tell the customer we are out of Deep Fried Everything. Because I have completely forgotten to order the 30 ingredients I need for it.
I don't see this as a failure at all. It's proof of concept. The customer left angry I didn't serve him Deep Fried Everything, which means he wanted Deep Fried Everything. When demand is greater than supply, you've got the market by the tail. I'm on the path to success, so I immediately close the restaurant for the day after not serving my one customer to ensure the ingredients can be delivered and ready for tomorrow.
Before we open the next day, I make an adjustment to the restaurant by putting a flower on the single table. Perfect. Then I fast-forward time as we all stand around waiting for someone to come in and order the one meal we make now that we have enough ingredients to make it. At 9:37 am, the perfect time to consume deep fried lobster, spaghetti, milk, and 27 other things, we get our first customer of the day. Exciting!
I pop the ticket in the window and watch as our fry cook starts gathering the ingredients and starts frying. (Note: I don't let Chef Chris actually cook anything himself because his fry skills are terrible). It takes a while. It's a lot of trips between the fridges, storage shelves, and the two fryers we have. I am pleased to see a line forming outside, though. Lots of people want some Deep Fried Everything, which is only now just being served to the guy who ordered it a full two hours ago.
The customer eats, sits there motionless for several long, excruciating seconds, and finally stands up. There's a ding and four stars appear! Four out of five! The dude loved Everything, Deep Fried! And I made a hundred bucks.
"This place looks nice. Deep Fried Everything was delicious!" reads his review. I'm picturing Chef Chris's name in the chef hall of fame already.
The next customer enters and sits down at the dirty table (the staff member I pay to clean is outside on a break because there's been no need to clean anything yet). I take his order (it's Deep Fried Everything) and quickly order more ingredients because we're already low on things like apples, yogurt, haddock, mango, clams, etc. I also take a second to jack up the price of Deep Fried Everything from $100 to $150. Clearly it's gonna be a hit and it costs a small fortune to make.
Not everything is going well, though. With only a single chair and table, people are getting tired of waiting outside and starting to leave. This raises Chef Chris' stress levels. We're also short on storage space with only two shelves and three fridges. And having an exclusive restaurant means having a nearly empty restaurant, which also makes my avatar's stress levels rise. While I (the Chris playing the game) think things are going great, the other Chris is deeply worried.
Finally the second serving of DFE is made and I serve it to the customer. Then I do what any good waiter in a fine restaurant does: I walk a few steps away from the table, turn my back, stare at the wall, and slowly have a nervous breakdown. Bon appetit!
More bad news. Customer 2 has left in a huff. Despite a belly full of delicious deep fried beef sirloin, bananas, bread crumbs, and yogurt, they're unhappy the restaurant made him wait so long, didn't have a bathroom, and only served one thing: a gigantic sizzling ball of deep fried 30-different-foods.
Chef Chris is severely stressed over all this. Another customer enters and sits down at the now seriously filthy table, orders a DFE, and I wait for it to be cooked while staring at the blank wall from one inch away. I force myself to take a break outside, hoping it'll lower my stress levels, so instead of staring at the wall I stare at a tree. It doesn't seem to help. I watch as Chef Chris walks back into the kitchen and sprays cleaning fluid at the deep fryer, which immediately bursts into flames. My employees grab fire extinguishers as Chris looks around furtively and then also sets the stove on fire. This is what happens when Chef Chris gets too stressed, apparently.
The customer leaves having not eaten. On that high note, I close the restaurant for the day to regroup.
Before the morning shift begins I make lots of modifications to the building. I remove the stove and oven since neither of them fry things and add a line of fryers on the back wall, eight in total. I throw in more storage shelves for ingredients. In the main room I add a toilet in the corner, build a wall around it, and presto, I've got a bathroom for these finicky customers. I add four tables and more chairs. Then we reopen. Three people sit down and then immediately leave, though two of them still consider it a four-star dining experience. They like the clean, pleasant-looking restaurant. They just don't want a giant crispy mass of deep fried food that costs $150. Idiots.
Two more single customers enter. One leaves angry but the other actually orders, so I get to watch the new line of gleaming, bubbling deep fryers get put to use. To speed things up I quickly hire another chef to help with all the frying. The customer eats and leaves a three-star review, so that's something. Two more enter, then leave without ordering, once again mad there's only one big fried thing made of 30 other things on the menu.
I see Chef Chris' stress levels about to explode again, so I hire a new server just to keep him away from the customers. One leaves having eaten, describing DFE as "disgusting." That's not gonna help.
With so much stress rising from a lack of storage, I bust open the back wall of the kitchen and build a new room just to add more fridges and shelving. While I'm doing this I notice Chef Chris has gone outside and is lying in the fetal position under a tree. Uh-oh.
But before he can run in and spray flammable chemicals into the fryer again, my game abruptly ends in a failure state. While I was focused on making Deep Fried Everything a culinary tour-de-force, the actual goals of the campaign level were to serve 30 tables (I'd served 5), make $1800 (I'd made $700, which still feels impressive), and reach a popularity level of 45.
And that's why I failed. Unfortunately, for reasons that escape me, I'd sunk the restaurant down to a mere score of 3, which I guess the game sees as a pit I can't dig my way out of. No matter how many things I fry.
Want to try it yourself? You'll find Recipe for Disaster in Early Access on Steam.
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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.