Macaroni and Cheese

Shutterstock

Never Ask a Restaurant for a Recipe: Here's Why

Restaurant ‘recipes’ are very different from home ones
Macaroni and Cheese

Shutterstock

Good luck coaxing that macaroni and cheese recipe out of your favorite restaurant's chef.

We’ve all done it: You eat a delicious serving of macaroni and cheese, meatloaf, or some other homestyle dish at a restaurant, and ask your server (or the chef) for the recipe. We guarantee that 100 percent of the time, unless you’re a very close friend of the chef, the request has been laughed off. You’re never going to learn how that dish is made, and with good reason. A couple good reasons, actually.

No, the chef isn’t afraid that if his secret is out you’ll open your own restaurant and sell a knockoff. The fact of the matter is, the “recipes” used in restaurant kitchens are very different than the ones you find in cookbooks, and once a kitchen crew is well-trained on how to make a specific dish, the recipe itself is usually nowhere to be found. When a dish is being made on an industrial scale, ingredients are measured in pounds instead of cups. Also, if a chef is particularly fond of a specific recipe, he’s unlikely to part with it. Finally, if it’s a chain restaurant dish, you’re probably not going to want to go out and buy xanthan gum and stearic acid in order to make that special glaze!

Related

Reproducing a restaurant dish in your own home is a lot more challenging than you may think; chefs and cookbook authors spend months scaling restaurant recipes down, simplifying, and testing them before they approximate what’s served at a restaurant. Enjoy restaurant meals at restaurants, and enjoy home-cooked meals at home.