Yes, restaurants will sometimes use precooked food to make their food. They buy food from other companies to add to their own cooked food they make, or as an extra side to their finished product. I have seen this done all the time, but mainly when it comes to desserts and side dishes.
Pie, cake, and cookies are commonly served precooked, straight from the package, and bought from other independent food companies. Sometimes restaurants will buy desserts straight from the local grocery store and sell them just as is to their customers.
I have seen a restaurant buy a pan of precooked brownies straight from the grocery store, separate them, and put them for display for their customers to buy. Another restaurant bought name brand cookies from the grocery store and used them to fill their catering order.
Cheesecake for example, is bought from other companies, kept frozen, then thawed and served to customers as needed. This isn’t to say that all restaurants do this, but some do it.
All a restaurant has to do is remove the precooked food from its original packaging and repackage it in a more presentable way before selling it. It is sometimes as easy as placing a piece of cake in a small disposable container with a sticker with the restaurants logo on top. It’s a piece of cake.
Macaroni & Cheese is also pre-packaged and precooked quite often and served to customers after it is heated. Not all restaurants use dried noodles to make their macaroni from scratch in a pot. The macaroni and cheese they use can be easily cut from a sealed package, placed in a container, and microwaved until ready. The macaroni is then kept warm and scooped out as needed.
Even the meats at some restaurants is heavily processed and already precooked before it is sliced and heated again. This is done in deli shops for sandwiches and subs that can be offered cold or hot. Chicken, turkey, beef, ham, and bacon can all arrive at the shop precooked and pre-seasoned. Any meat can be processed and done this way.
Do Restaurants Premake Their Food?
Yes. Restaurants will premake their to ensure that every order for their paying guests is finished in a timely manner. Anytime there is a long wait on food after ordering, half of it could be due to failure to premake the food before it was cooked.
There are many things that a restaurant does to premake food. Chopping vegetables, heating food up, thawing food, slicing meat, even microwaving. All these things are done in advance so there isn’t a long waiting time after the food is ordered. Fast food restaurants specialize in premaking food. Some can have an order instantly done before the customer finishes paying out.
Coleslaw is commonly premade by restaurants in advance. It doesn’t take long for them to make it, but long enough that it could increase waiting times significantly if it isn’t made beforehand.
Do Restaurants Microwave Food?
This depends on the restaurant, but many do have a microwave that they use to microwave some of the food they make at the restaurant, or their own food from home.
Restaurants use many different ways to prepare and cook in ways that isn’t done commonly at home. Some ways that they prepare their sides, gravy, and other side items require a microwave before setting them in a cooker or warmer to stay heated. They use microwaves to reduce the waiting time for customers instead of slowly heating the food in a cooker or pot.
Restaurants also use microwaves to quickly heat up small batches of food that was saved and preserved from yesterday. The food is sometimes saved and placed in a commercial cooler after the store closes down for the night to be used for tomorrow.
Gravy, sauces, macaroni, mashed potatoes, meatballs in marinara sauce, and other side items that don’t lose their quality quickly, are kept and microwaved the next day for use.
These are just a few examples of what restaurants will keep and microwave for later use.
Some foods are even microwaved just to keep them up to temperature when they fall below 140 degrees Fahrenheit (FDA standards). After they microwave the food, it is commonly placed in a APW (basically a cooker to keep the food hot). If the APW isn’t heating the food up enough, the microwave might be used. The food is heated in the microwave, then placed back in the APW to maintain its temperature.
Microwaving food has become a common practice in restaurants that desire praise for satisfaction of speed to satisfy their hungry customers that are waiting. They may even do this to reduce potential customer complaints.
Do Restaurants Cook Everything Fresh?
It is hard pressed to say that any sole restaurant cooks everything that they make fresh. This means that the food wasn’t frozen beforehand, in a can, or saved from yesterday and microwaved today. Some of the ingredients and mixtures used to make certain foods at restaurants do come in cans or was frozen.
For example, a dessert made with pudding as an ingredient may have pudding that came straight from a can.
A lot of restaurants claim to be fresh, but when they are saying that, they mean the food hasn’t been cooked and sitting around for an hour or two before it is served. So if the customer asked them if the food is fresh, they always say yes, even though a lot of the food is processed. The food could have been sitting in a can or a freezer for days before it was cooked and served.
The larger the menu is, the less the likelihood of actually getting fresh food. It’s almost a guarantee that some of the food was made from something that came out of a can or was in a package. If the restaurant has a lot of business, then some of the food was probably frozen.
Some or even all the food at a restaurant can be fresh, but many of the foods at the average restaurant are not.
How Much Of The Restaurant Food Is Kept Frozen
It depends on the size of the restaurant on how much food is kept frozen. Restaurants that pull in thousands of dollars a day will most likely keep over 75% of their foods frozen. Most restaurants have a commercial cooler and a freezer. When they have to make big orders, the food in the freezer is transferred over to the cooler to thaw, and the freezer is restocked with new food that is kept frozen.
Bread, meat, and cookie dough are some foods that are commonly kept frozen in the freezer.
Even if a restaurant doesn’t pull in thousands of dollars a day, the food that could go in the cooler might be preserved in the freezer until it is actually needed. It will be transfered to the cooler to thaw out the night before.
Anything that can spoil over time, can and will be most likely placed in the freezer to preserve it until it is actually needed.