We all have heard the rumors and stories of some restaurants using a microwave to cook, heat, and using microwaves in some situations and sometimes it is okay. For example, heating certain aspects of the dish, defrosting something, drying certain herbs, or heating a kid’s food out of request. However, no by any means should it be a tool for cooking and food preparation whatsoever, especially in fine restaurants.
Fine restaurants usually have microwaves in their kitchen. However, it is extremely rare that it is used to cook any part of a meal, especially in fine restaurants. A quality restaurant should never use a microwave for the customer’s meal.
You should definitely hear a couple of reasons why and where it is used in more detail to save you from misunderstanding the usage of microwaves in finer restaurants.
Why Do Restaurants Use Microwaves
There are many good reasons why restaurants use microwaves for some tasks, let’s go through all the reasons.
When working in a restaurant, speed is always one of the most important parts of the business operation because if things are taking too long, customers will get angry and that’s a bad reputation for the brand.
Microwaves may be used for some frozen foods like pies, gluten-free bread for special occasions, and other foods that are okay to defrost in a microwave. However, meats and other premium and main ingredients shouldn’t be defrosted in a microwave!
All restaurants are or at least should plan ahead so they can defrost the foods overnight in a freezer, give a cold water bath to berries that need defrosting. Defrosting over time and a water bath are better options for that task than a microwave.
Defrosting foods that are meant to be defrosted in a microwave is indeed a much easier and simpler task than a water bath in a middle of a rush. When a quality restaurant is defrosting something, don’t worry because usually, they are using a commercial-grade professional microwave that has a ton of different options that make it simple and safe!
In some cases it is truly a great idea to use microwaves for food, but not for the customer’s main meal! For example, if a parent comes and asks that a bottle of milk, child’s porridge, or some other personal meal would be heated in a microwave then of course it is more than okay to do so.
A microwave is also a great tool for the fast melting of butter or chocolate and that doesn’t ruin the texture and taste of the ingredient as it would completely do so with a premium steak… Baked potatoes are in many cases heated in a microwave for getting that nice baked potato texture, assuming that they are baked earlier.
Also, many chefs in the industry are very aware that munching the restaurant’s ingredients and foods every day, week, month, and year will be well… Not good for the body. Therefore many take their own homemade meals that are healthy and heats them in the microwave.
For that purpose, it is really good to have a microwave as well.
When Restaurants Never Should Use Microwaves
There are many times when microwaves should never be used by restaurants and hopefully never will. Let’s take a look at the don’ts of microwave use.
There are many materials and things that should never be microwaved such as food in a plastic container because the container can melt and leech harmful materials to the food.
Also placing metal cutlery, plates aluminum foil, or anything that could produce sparks and start a fire. Simple common sense should solve its problem even before it begins.
If the microwave is damaged in any way it is really dangerous to turn it on and history shows many times that a damaged microwave has started a fire, even if it looks like it is fine after a big hit.
Last but not least any kind of proteins, carbohydrates such as pasta or rice and fats should never ever be ”cooked” and served to the customers because believe me I have seen unbelievable cases where you can immediately see that the dish was prepared in a microwave. Our next subtopic of the article will be considering this matter, and how you can spot microwaved food when dining in a restaurant.
How To Tell If The Food Is Microwaved Or Not
There are a couple of things that if learned you can spot microwaved food.
First of all, you can spot microwaved food of uneven heat. If the center of the food is hotter than possible from the oven but the exterior is just cold and there’s no way that they were cooked in the same place, except in the microwave.
Second, you can totally tell it from the texture. If it resembles a rubber puck or something that you have never seen coming out from the oven, pan, or where ever except microwave.
The Third aspect where to spot microwaved food is the taste. When microwaving food the water molecules heat up a lot faster than the others, resulting in the water vaporizing before the other parts of the food are heated giving it a dry and microwaved taste.
If you are certain that the dish is microwaved in a fine restaurant, feel free to ask the waiters and they will get the answer from the chefs!
Is Microwaved Food Safe?
There have been debates among people as long as microwaves have existed that are microwaved food safe? Luckily the answer to that question is good as you might be assumed by now.
In short, microwaves are perfectly safe for food because they won’t carry nearly as much energy that they would require to be considered even a little harmful.
What comes to the nutritional value of microwaved food, it won’t lose any of its nutritional value when compared to pan or oven-cooked foods.
However, when fresh ingredients are cooked, they do lose nutritional value by breaking down the nutrients. Microwave does not break them down any more than if cooked with other means, so there’s no need to avoid microwaves, except when dining in a fancy restaurant where microwaves don’t exactly fit the demands.
What Kinds Of Microwaves Are There?
There are a lot of microwaves out there and we aren’t going to go through all of them because the little details that specify them to different categories wouldn’t be the topic of this post, however, we will go through the most usual kinds that a commercial restaurant would use.
Countertop microwaves are found in nearly every home these days and are an easy and simple way of defrosting and reheating foods. This kind of microwaves is usually low-power, especially when comparing to commercial microwaves. These usually have power between 700-1000watts but are found in more powerful models as well.
Light-Duty Commercial Microwave
There are 3 main categories of commercial microwaves, lets start with the low-duty one.
These microwaves will offer the user usually around 1000watts, however, don’t confuse these with the countertop microwaves that offer the same amount of watts because light-duty commercial microwaves are more powerful than the typical ones.
Medium-Duty Commercial Microwave
These microwaves will start to have decent power and the watts are usually found around 1200-2000watts. These will heat sauces and other similar ingredients really quickly but won’t be a match to the heavy-duty ones that are just monsters in terms of power and cost.
Heavy-Duty Commercial Microwave
Finally, heavy-duty microwaves are between 2000-3000watts and are extremely fast and powerful. These are mainly for restaurants that need to heat foods 200 times a day and can easily cost $1000 and much, much more. The most expensive ones aren’t only microwaves anymore tho, and they are equipped with a lot of different adjustments.
As a rule of thumb, if microwaving seems shady and you wouldn’t tell it to a customer, you shouldn’t probably be microwaving it. However, there are times that is perfectly fine to use a microwave as we previously discussed and a microwave will be a great addition to any kitchen, regardless of the overall quality.
Do you have experience considering restaurants and microwaves? Feel free to comment below and share them with the community!