Pasta machine crushes 22 bones in chef’s hand in ‘excruciating’ accident


The Milwaukee pizza restaurant owner who nearly lost her hand in a pasta machine accident last year has returned to work.

Chef Suzzette Metcalfe, owner of Pasta Tree since 2007, was cleaning the machine when her hand got caught in the two rollers of the pasta machine.

Metcalfe called for help, but his hostess was outside the house and did not hear his screams, OnMilwaukee reported.

“It all happened so fast,” Metcalfe told the publication. “The machine has a safety foot brake that I squeezed to stop it, but I couldn’t open the rollers to get my hand out.”

With his phone out of reach, Metcalfe had to slide the table he was sitting on towards her with his foot. In doing so, the chef was finally able to call for help and her waitress.

She had already suffered 22 fractures to her right hand, putting her out of service since May 28, the date of the accident, until now.

“The pain was excruciating. Somehow I remembered asking him to call all the reservations for the evening. I knew we wouldn’t have dinner service,” says Metcalfe.

Even when emergency services arrived, Metcalfe’s ordeal was not over. Initially, OnMilwaukee reported, paramedics weren’t sure how to actually pull the chef out of the pasta machine rolls.

Metcalfe explained that his concerns at the time were not just for his hand. She told OnMilwaukee: “They were pumping me lots of fentanyl for the pain, and I was freaking out about the pasta machine. It’s been there for 60 years. It was owned by the mother of one of the previous owners, Robert Fontecchio. This is the heart of the restaurant. “

After 45 minutes of attempts to free Metcalfe, spurred on by the fact that she was losing circulation in her fingers, the decision was made to use a Sawzall to cut through the machine. The process used 12 new blades to cut through the rollers.

Once free, Metcalfe was transported by ambulance to Froedtert Hospital, known for its hand surgery team.

When she was finally released, the chef described her fingers as “sausages that have been boiled too long and burst.”

As she waited to be seen by hand specialists at Froedtert Hospital, she began to fear losing her hand, she told OnMilwaukee. Fortunately, doctors informed her that she would not lose her hand or fingers, but had to face a harsh recovery period.

According to Restaurant Kitchen Safety 101, the majority of accidents that occur in professional kitchens are cuts and lacerations, slips, trips and falls, sprains and soft tissue injuries, and burns and scalds. That doesn’t mean, however, that accidents involving pasta makers are rare.

In 2017, The New York Post reported that Philadelphia-based chef Joe Cicala’s hand was crushed by a pasta sheeter after accidentally placing his fingers too close to the machine’s rolling device.

And accidents involving pasta makers can also happen outside of restaurants.

Just months before the Metcalfe crash on March 22, a man in South Windsor, Connecticut was seriously injured when his arm was stuck in a pasta machine at a pasta factory.

The man from Middlefield, 32, was trapped in the craft up to his elbow between 3:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. when a team of 30 firefighters were finally able to free him. The man was transported to Hartford hospital via the Life Star helicopter with serious injuries.

“He had significant injuries to his right arm, right forearm. Some facial injuries and some upper chest injuries,” said Sgt. South Windsor Police Department’s Mark Cleverdon told News 8 at the time of the incident.

The Metcalfe accident didn’t take the head of the restaurant business away, however, after a long road to recovery and physiotherapy, she will reopen Pasta Tree on November 10.

However, she will entrust the main tasks of the kitchen to the staff and take on a more managerial role as the owner of the restaurant.

“Almost losing my hand made just how much I love my restaurant. I missed the kitchen, my customers and my employees and for being part of the community, ”concluded Metcalfe. “I can’t wait to get back to normal, whatever normal is now.”

An image of a bandaged woman’s hand. A restaurant owner in Milwaukee has returned to work after a pasta machine severely crushed her hand.
Artfully79 / Getty

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