Philadelphia Chef Gets Hand Crushed By Pasta Machine, Undergoes Emergency Surgery

Approximately 35% of on-the-job injuries are caused by machine accidents each year, but this was no ordinary machine accident — Joe Cicala, popular Philadephia-based chef, caught his hand in a pasta sheeter while making Mother’s Day dinner at Le Virtu, the Philadelphia Italian restaurant where he works.

Cicala had been experimenting with a new pasta recipe. but the dough turned out a bit too sticky to be fed easily into the pasta machine. He then put his hand into the machine, attempting to force the dough through the sheeter, but the machine ended up crushing his fingers.

“So, like an idiot, I reached in and tried to force it through the machine,” Cicala told Billy Penn. “And then I just heard a crunch. Like a handful of popcorn exploded. It was so gross.”

Luckily, Cicala managed to shut the machine off. He tried to remove his fingers, but to no avail — they were completely stuck in between the rollers. And since he was in the basement of the restaurant, nobody heard his pleas for help.

Cicala says he was eventually able to nudge his iPhone off table near him. An estimated 50% of mobile phone owners use their phone as their primary internet source, but Cicala used his to activate Siri to call for help.

About 30 agonizing minutes later, the paramedics arrived, but none of their equipment — not even their hydraulic separator — could free Cicala from the unrelenting machine.

Emergency room visits now number approximately 110 million annually, and Cicala had to make one himself so that surgeons could reattach the nerves and tendons of his fingers. He had broken every single bone in his hand.

Cicala posted a picture of his pain killers on Facebook, expressing gratitude for the emergency services.

“I almost lost my hand last night in the pasta sheeter at Le Virtu. Thanks the the first responders and the outstanding trauma hand surgeons at Jefferson Hospital everything is reattached with minimal nerve damage,” he wrote. “Follow up surgeries will be scheduled this week but needless to say I will be out of commission for 6 weeks.”

Cicala concluded his post by relaying a sincere message to his restaurant patrons, which speak volumes about his work ethic and commitment to his profession.

“All pergola chef’s table reservations at Le Virtu will be honored. I’ll be on site to guide the cooks through the menus I created. I’ll see to it that you will have a singular experience regardless of my condition.”

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