Four diners were burned, one of them severely, when a bananas Foster desert erupted in out-of-control flames at a Ozona Blue, a Palm Harbor, Florida restaurant. The dessert, bananas sauteed in butter and sugar and ignited with rum, burst into large blaze as the server poured 151-proof liquor into the hot pan.
A 25-year-old school teacher was most severely injured and is being treated for third-degree burns. The fire investigators' report stated that "additional alcohol was added to the flaming contents" in the dish, sparking a "sudden burst of flames" that quickly spread.
Might the terrible accident have been prevented?[jump]
The St. Petersburg Times notes that some bananas Foster recipes caution cooks to pour the flammable liquor from a separate cup, not the bottle. In fact, Bacardi 151 rum bottles carry a warning label that states, "Do not use this product for flaming dishes," and the spouts feature a "flame arrester" to prevent fires.
The paper also points out a few other cases where flambeed dishes and drinks caused injuries:
A California woman in 1999 suffered third-degree burns when a server prepared Cherries Jubilee tableside at a steak house. A woman in London was seriously burned in 2005 when a flaming Portuguese sausage dish exploded after it was topped with rum. And a 5-year-old girl and her 8-year-old sister were burned in Arizona in 2006 when alcohol in a hollowed-out "onion volcano" was ignited at a Japanese restaurant.
Some incidents have proved deadly. In 1996, a waitress died after suffering severe burns at a Dublin wedding reception when an open liquor bottle caught fire as staff prepared a flaming Baked Alaska. And in 1979, an 81-year-old Coral Gables woman died after she was set afire by flaming Cherries Jubilee at a country club.
So whether you're indulging in the delicious dessert at home or at a restaurant-- Seven the Steakhouse in Minneapolis serves an excellent version--be sure to use caution.