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Oct 28, 2013 07:38 AM

Microwave use in Restaurants

Most Sunday's I make a batch of stew or chili or soup. All week I take it to work for lunch. I heat it up in a microwave and it seems to work just fine. I can't tell the difference between that and heating it up on the stove. And yet I often hear that if a restaurant uses a microwave it's a sign they don't make quality food. Is using a microwave some form of cheating? If you know/knew a place was using one to heat some items would they be less in your eyes?


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  1. "Is using a microwave some form of cheating?"
    Depends on the context.
    A very small percentage of restaurants are truly high-end where everything is prepared fresh and somewhat, to-order. To use a uwave here may be considered cheating.

    However, the vast majority of restaurants are not high-end, and they'll use any and all avenues to get the plate out of the kitchen.
    Ran out of steaks and the rush is still on? Throw a frozen one in the microwave.
    Plate been sitting too long waiting for this or that, zap it.
    All the soup is gone? Heat up yesterday's with the ole magnetron.
    Table 6 is bitchin their steak is underdone? You guessed it.

    Do all restaurants do this? Well not all, at least not all the time. Is it cheating? I dunno....

    1. Certain items re-heat well in the wave while other items don't. Doesn't make a restaurant bad.

      1. It isn't cheating, but the use of a microwave is indicative of type of restaurant it is. I would not typically go to a place that makes something a week before and then just zaps it before serving.

        When I eat out, I want freshly prepared food. One of my favorite local places has an open kitchen. There are even counter seats that wrap around the kitchen so that you can watch the chefs as they prepare the food. No microwave in sight. You can watch your dinner go from the raw unprepared state to a polished dish that is set before you.

        But I'm sure there are places that reheat previously prepared products. I prefer to avoid them but have probably had it in the past. So at least in my eyes, a place that uses a microwave as part of their normal cooking is not a positive.

        1. Here is how I see it;

          If you are re-heating or warming something that was cooked, but needs to be a warmer temp, not cheating.

          If you are using the microwave as the actual method of "cooking" the item, yeah....that's kind of cheating.

          7 Replies
          1. re: jrvedivici

            When I bake a potato, I microwave it first and then finish it in the oven. The microwave is definitely doing some of the cooking. Is this cheating/not cheating? Because I would have no objection to a restaurant using this method, especially if it means I can get a baked potato without waiting an hour for it.

            1. re: small h

              Well that depends since the OP is talking about use in restaurants, so if you own and run a very tiny restaurant in which you are the only patron, and you pay yourself for that baked potato I would have to say there is no way to answer this question.

            2. re: jrvedivici

              I completely disagree. I make some very good dishes in the microwave. Szchuen green beans, fish in parchment, risotto, assorted pilafs, chocolate pudding cake, sweet and our cabbage, polenta pudding and mushroom ragout just to name a few. Why is the fact they are made in the microwave "cheating"?

              1. re: foodieX2

                < I make some very good dishes in the microwave. Szchuen green beans, fish in parchment, risotto, assorted pilafs, chocolate pudding cake, sweet and our cabbage, polenta pudding and mushroom ragout just to name a few. >

                But are you saying that these cannot be made better elsewhere? In other words, are you suggesting that Szechuan green beans are made best in a microwave than in a wok?

                <Why is the fact they are made in the microwave "cheating"?>

                Cheating is between the givers and the receivers. It can be, and it may not be -- depending on the clarity.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  No, I am not saying that they can't be made equally as well using other methods. And for that matter they can also be a disaster using other methods.

                2. re: foodieX2

                  Sounds as though you have Kafka's 'Microwave Gourmet'.

                  1. re: paulj

                    Yup, that book changed my whole approach to the microwave as did her second "healthstyle" one. The recipes I listed are the ones I go back to time and time again. So good, easy and fast!

                    What is even better is the dictionary/appendix in the back. I refer to that even more than the recipes!

              2. How should a restaurant prepare and serve a beef bourguignon - or other braised meat dish?

                It can't be made to order - unless the patron wants to wait 2 hrs. Should it be made in the morning, and kept hot (140deg) through out the serving period? Or made once a week, frozen in serving portions, and thawed/heated in the microwave to order?

                5 Replies
                1. re: paulj

                  You can avoid cheating by reheating in a pan...

                  1. re: porker

                    Why is one cheating and the other not?

                    Seems to me that there are more important issues than a vague notion of 'cheating', things like evenness of the heating, attention that it requires from the cook, and speed.

                    1. re: paulj

                      Reheating in a pan while stirring heats more evenly. Ever stick a bowl with cold soup in the MV until its bubbling on top and when you take it out, you notice it's hot on the top and cold on the middle? Or that some pieces of a stew are still cold even when the liquid is hot? Yeah you can stir it, put it back and repeat until its evenly heated through, but then you might as well get the pan out. MV oven heats very unevenly.

                      1. re: paulj

                        I was being sarcastic (dangnabbit I forgot the sarco font)....

                        1. re: paulj

                          There are indeed more important issues: For example, reheating the food to the proper internal temperature is far more important than the method for doing so.

                          That said, there are many vendors pushing precooked items that can be heated in the microwave, the fryer, the grill, the oven etc. to order. These foods are not cooked in-house and to my mind, it IS cheating for a restaurant to pass it off as something they prepare.

                          Years ago I ordered Chicken Kiev in a place that was known for steak and prime rib. That was my introduction to microwave convenience foods in a restaurant. Big mistake.