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Microwave as a method of cookery.

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
What are your views on using microwaves to cook some food items?

I work for a major UK pub restaurant chain with almost 1000 sites.

At my site we can serve up to 300 guests per day. The aim is to have their food within 10 minutes of them ordering. So when they order a mixed grill, the steaks go on the salamander grill and the sausages get 60 seconds in the microwave to cook then under the grill to brown.

I personally was appalled when I first saw this. A young chef who recently started didn't like this method of cookery too and instead of microwaving put them in the combination oven for 60 seconds instead which barely cooked the sausages. The 23 year old head chef went mental for slowing down the service.

I don't like it but do as others do. Is microwave cooking prevalent in many other fast food type of restaurants?

I have been cooking for over 20 years and it's taken me a few months to get used to this style cookery.
post #2 of 24

A 23 year old head chef?

 

Where do you work, if you can say?

 

I've worked in a high volume restaurant in England, similar to what you seem to describe, we didn't use a microwave at all. The longest thing on the menu was still 15 mins start to finish, cooked on a grill or in the oven.

post #3 of 24

In principle its not *much* worse than sous-vide.- I agree that it feels wrong, dishonest and unprofessional. But do high volume establishments really stand for right, honest, professional food? Could you brown the sausages in a pan and finish in the oven?

 

At my place we serve part cooked pies of considerable density. To get them out in twenty minutes, we microwave them for a minute to warm the centre, then cook them off in the oven which finishes the pastry. I've found the microwave is good for giving a vague warmness to cakes and brownies from the fridge, so they seem like they've cooled down from coming out of the oven. 

 

But the only thing I've found that the microwave is best at is wilting spinach: put a ton of the stuff in a bowl with some room temperature butter on the top, cover with a plate and microwave for about thirty seconds. Heat melts the butter, and the steam and heat wilts the spinach, which mingles with the butter. Haven't yet found a better way. 

 

They have their uses, but using them like you have to in your kitchen sounds like no fun ):

post #4 of 24
Quote:
I work for a major UK pub restaurant chain with almost 1000 sites.

 

The micro-wave has it's place but it isn't prepping entree's...  work at the chain and learn everything you can, both good and bad.   Then once you've exhausted all ability to learn move onto a real kitchen and expect to start over at the bottom.   Learn everything you can.... repeat again and again.

 

15-20 years from now you'll open the greatest place that ever has been. (it'll last for ~5 years and you'll either sell or start another or it will fail from your boredom)

----

 


"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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----

 


"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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post #5 of 24

Personally, I would lose it if I went to a restaurant and found out my food entered a microwave. I have a microwave at work but I pretend it's not even there. At home I use it to re-heat my coffee, and if I'm in a bad jam, I might use it to defrost a hard as a rock sofrito, but that's it.

 

Then again I don't eat in fast food chains.

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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post #6 of 24

My customer expectation is that all food is fresh and not nuked. I can nuke stuff at home. Actually - no I can't - I don't own a microwave, and have never owned a microwave. Sous-vide, saute, serve... It's not that hard. 

Do or Do not - There is no Try. - Yoda
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Do or Do not - There is no Try. - Yoda
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post #7 of 24

Ah, the nuker..............

 

Like others have said, they have their uses.  Me, for instance use it daily to melt 10-20 kgs of couverture (chocolate) per day.

 

A nuker works by agitating the water molecules in food.  Agitation= friction, friction= heat. Anything high in water content will nuke beautifully--soups, sauces, etc.  Anything low in water content will nuke sh*ttily, --pastry, for instance. or bread, or pancakes. Snauages may have a decent water content, but are also high in fat and muscle tissue, 5-10 seconds too long in the nuker and you'll burst the snausage, you really have very little control over this.

 

A nuker is a cheat on the line.  You can "rethermalize" pasta in hot water faster than you can in a nuker.  You also have much, much , more control over heat with conventional methods than with a nuker

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #8 of 24

So those of you who say they wont eat in a place that uses a microwave or would loose it, have you eaten out lately?  The wave of the future is the Turbo Chef type ovens that use radiant heat with microwave technology to cook and brown at the same time.  Companies like Brinker, Darden and PepsiCo have removed flat tops, grills and stoves and replaced them with Turbo Chefs, impingement ovens and microwaves in an effort to reduce costs and make food more consistent. 

Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
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Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
Reply
post #9 of 24
At one time, not long ago; it was the cook's responsibility to operate efficiently, consistently, and reliably.

But it is good to know the wait staff and brigade will be replaced by a large refrigerated vending machine with "virtual chef technology" inside.

What is sad: Most people have no idea or even care how their food is made. The cook of the future: Works a pre-packaged production line in early career; advances to vending machine display food technician in mid career; Eventually masters the craft and becomes one of the elite few on a buffet line.
Do or Do not - There is no Try. - Yoda
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Do or Do not - There is no Try. - Yoda
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post #10 of 24
The microwave is a powerfull tool and chefs look down on them at their peril. It just seems doctrinaire for cooks to scoff at them and be outraged by their use. The thing is you actually have to learn how,to use the things properly, just setting the power to max and blasting away at a poor potatoe or something, is not using the microwave properly. Yet that seems all that most people do with them.

How many of us have actually really tried to work the things, playing with the power settings, and timings, to maximize what you can do with them?

For the record, I have not done so myself. I did work for a chef used a microwave to cook a couple of dishes, not just reheat. One was a potatoe pave, and I swear it was one of the best versions of it I have ever had. It always was cooked evenly, yet maintain clear distinct layers of potatoe. This wasnt an exercise in time saving, he lovingly cooked in stages, changing the power every ten minutes or so, wrapping and pressing in stages. I guarentee that it could have been done faster in an oven or steamer. But it was all about the end result.

Al
post #11 of 24

The people who will not use it also thought the pc years ago was stupid. Anything used correctly could be efficient and good.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #12 of 24

There a plenty of threads in regard to microwave cooking. This particular thread might be relevant. 

post #13 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by trooper View Post

At one time, not long ago; it was the cook's responsibility to operate efficiently, consistently, and reliably.

But it is good to know the wait staff and brigade will be replaced by a large refrigerated vending machine with "virtual chef technology" inside.

What is sad: Most people have no idea or even care how their food is made. The cook of the future: Works a pre-packaged production line in early career; advances to vending machine display food technician in mid career; Eventually masters the craft and becomes one of the elite few on a buffet line.

It still is their responsibility, but in todays economy labor costs are king and the easiest way to keep them down is to make things easier.  Remember, companies with hundreds of stores or a single unit need the food to look, taste and smell the same from location to location and diner to diner, and the best way to do that is to take the guess work out of it.

 

The fastest way to find yourself BEHIND the 8 ball is to not embrace technology and the movement and be left standing there.  Companies and restaurant owners are in biz to make money, and to make money costs have to be in line. Labor will kill a successful biz and if you don't accept change you could be a casualty. 

 

I have made a second career out of learning how to develop(that's right, I'm that guy in a test kitchen) food and dry sauce/just add water or stock sauces that are freeze/thaw stable, true to the flavors of a gold standard, microwaveableand oven safe.  They can be reheated after the initial cook up and are readily available to the average consumer.  The future is now and it isn't stopping for anyone at any time.  Technology and food are here, they have been married and they aren't getting divorced anytime soon.

Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
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Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
Reply
post #14 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by thompson View Post

In principle its not *much* worse than sous-vide.- I agree that it feels wrong, dishonest and unprofessional. 

 

Say what now? I'm going to refrain from writing a long response to this, but I think you should do a little research if you think somehow that microwave is only a little "worse" than sous vide. Chef Mike has a few uses in a kitchen (maybe melting chocolate, butter, etc), but too many places use it improperly or as a crutch. 

post #15 of 24
Hey Someday,

I felt like commenting on that line as well but didn't know where to,start. However I decided to embrace that sort of logic tonight. First thing I did was remove all the thermostates from my grill, range and oven. I replaced these with a random temperature generators. Then I broke all of my linecooks thumbs. Service was crap but man it sure felt authentic and real.

Al
post #16 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanMcPherson View Post

Hey Someday,

I felt like commenting on that line as well but didn't know where to,start. However I decided to embrace that sort of logic tonight. First thing I did was remove all the thermostates from my grill, range and oven. I replaced these with a random temperature generators. Then I broke all of my linecooks thumbs. Service was crap but man it sure felt authentic and real.

Al

Well... Don't you think it is a bit mean to break your cooks' thumbs just to make a point? Now they will be stuck using the microwave until things heal up!
Do or Do not - There is no Try. - Yoda
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Do or Do not - There is no Try. - Yoda
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post #17 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanMcPherson View Post

Hey Someday,

I felt like commenting on that line as well but didn't know where to,start. However I decided to embrace that sort of logic tonight. First thing I did was remove all the thermostates from my grill, range and oven. I replaced these with a random temperature generators. Then I broke all of my linecooks thumbs. Service was crap but man it sure felt authentic and real.

Al

I don't understand your point...

post #18 of 24
Al's saying that if you use the modern advantages of controlled heat and opposible thumbs you're a sellout.He's not really saying that,his point is that there is a place for technology in modern cooking.Hey Al,maybe that is the solution to your steak house thread......call it Yaba Daba Do and cater to the people on that caveman diet.....I can't remember what it's called right now.Might be a bit of a niche market though.It'll give your cooks a place to work while their thumbs heal.....better than worker's comp.
post #19 of 24
The main reason I do not own a microwave is because the wife and kids will degenerate into frozen food and insta-nuke mode. What have I used one for in commercial kitchens....???? Honestly, I can't remember the last time I used one. -MAYBE- and only -IF- we had some dire water shortage - I'd opt for dethaw over running a faucet. Maybe it would save my hide when the ice cream machine runs a few minutes too long. Maybe it would help keep prep schedule on family meal rotation. Most liquid stuff (or stuff that needs to become liquid) does fine on the flattop or induction. I suppose an engineer chef could argue an induction top and chef nuke are kissing cousins. I feel compelled to smash all of our portable induction tops now.
Do or Do not - There is no Try. - Yoda
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Do or Do not - There is no Try. - Yoda
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post #20 of 24
rbrad, I like you.

Someday, I like you too. I was agreeing with you in a passive agressive slightly exhausted and drunk kind of way. Its called being Canadian.

Al

(ps maybe we rebrand to Paleodelic?)

Al
post #21 of 24

i like to use the microwave for a lot of my starches, such as potato's for mash and very starchy rice,

 

it dehydrated the potato slightly and you get the fluffiest mash out of it.  

 

i will admit that i don't have a microwave in any of my current kitchens, it's not that i don't like using them it's that they can be misused trying to defrost items in a profetional kitchen kills me, it bad planning it encourges bacteria growth and sometimes dried the food out or worse half cooks it

 

that been said, the microwave is a tool and used correctly it can produce good results,

 

ps. i can bake a cake in a cup in 5 mins using a microwave, i do it at home and it's pretty decent

post #22 of 24

I hate the idea of a microwave, I won't ever use one at home.

 

At work I use one only when I'm in a rush (and learn from those mistakes so that I can avoid using it in the future) and only for things like softening butter (breakfast shift if I forget to take out some butter right when I get in so that it is soft enough to spread during service) or panic heating mash in plastic tubs (busy service, didn't keep the mash pan on the flat top topped up).

Also on a low heat for melting chocolate for dessert prep, which is for time & mess clean up factors.

 

Otherwise I'm just not a fan.

 

I had a friend having building work that disconnected the oven for a few days.... she confessed to microwaving bacon for a blt.

 

The thought of it still makes me feel queasy.

post #23 of 24
They have their uses as long as you use it properly there is nothing wrong with it.

Take the microwave sponge cake said to be one of the bet and easiest recipes..

For gnocchi the microwave is the best IMO.

For frying herbs is awesome

But like other said you can just put anything in there and expect it to come out great because it won't.
post #24 of 24

Hate microwaves. The only reason I have one is for reheating leftovers. That's the one use that they're semi-acceptable for.

 

I've been eating out less and less because more and more the stuff I make myself is a whole lot tastier and in general better quality.

 

I don't need some shoemaker heating up food for me in a microwave and then tossing on some limp garnish. I'll wait 15 to 20/30 minutes for properly cooked food thank you very much.

Apprentichef - Six stitches to go home early and you can't die until your shift is over.

 

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Apprentichef - Six stitches to go home early and you can't die until your shift is over.

 

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