Olive Garden, A famous Italian American restaurant chain, is rumored to be serving microwaved dishes to its customers. Microwaves are surely used in the olive garden just like any other dine-in restaurant, but the use of a microwave oven in a restaurant kitchen doesn’t entail serving stale and frozen food. While this rumor has legs, let’s discuss if there is any truth in it.
Is Olive Garden Food Microwaved?
The Olive Garden doesn’t serve frozen meals that are microwaved, to its customers. Fresh meals are prepared from scratch, every single morning. The restaurant only uses microwaves for heating dipping sauces and warming desserts.
All busy restaurants prepare fresh food in the morning and they reheat the food as per customer orders, throughout the day. The olive garden employees have cleared up these rumors by explaining how all their food is freshly prepared and except for desserts and sauces, everything is pan-fried, deep-fried, or grilled. Let’s take a closer look at how and why this rumor spread so far.
How And Why Was This Rumor Started?
During an AMA Reddit session, A former Olive Garden employee wrote “The food is mostly frozen. All of the desserts are.”
Another former Olive Garden bartender wrote on Reddit “The meats are frozen, which shouldn’t be a surprise since you can’t expect fresh meats every day. It’s just not possible.”
Both these statements began circulating on social media. Many people thought it meant that all of the olive garden’s food is microwaved before it is served and the olive garden sells frozen food instead of preparing fresh dishes every day.
Nowhere in any of these statements, the employees implied that olive garden’s meals are frozen or stale.
What Was The Response Of Olive Garden?
The Olive Garden hasn’t responded to any of these rumors through its official channels. Many of the Olive Garden’s employees came to its defense.
One employee of olive garden told PopSugar “All of Olive Garden’s signature soups and pasta which include Pasta e Fagioli, Chicken & Gnocchi, Zuppa Toscana, and Minestrone, are made by hand and from scratch every morning using fresh, whole ingredients such as kale, peppers, and squash.”
Another person wrote on Reddit that “All the pasta is cooked in the morning till Al Dante and then it gets portioned and stored. Whenever an order is placed for any kind of pasta, it is reheated in boiling water for the required time and then it is prepared according to the recipe.”
These statements through unofficial channels provided some clarity on the situation.
The Olive Garden should have reached out to its loyal customers to explain what was going on behind the walls of its kitchen. An official statement would have helped in clearing up the brand’s name.
Is It Unethical For Restaurants To Sell Microwaved Food?
The answer to this question depends upon the usage of the microwave oven in a particular restaurant.
If the restaurant is fully cooking its meals in microwaves and they keep their customers unaware of this fact, then yes, it is unethical. If any restaurant cooks its meals by microwaving them, they should disclose this fact to their customers.
If a restaurant is only using a microwave oven for reheating some of its dishes to save time and effort. It is not unethical, and they don’t have to tell every single customer that their food is reheated in the microwave.
Most customers don’t even care about the method through which their meals are heated, no matter if it’s in a microwave oven or a frying pan.
Do All Restaurants Use Microwave Ovens?
Not all restaurants use microwave ovens to reheat their food before serving, but 95% or more do.
For busy restaurants, it is impossible to prepare every single dish from scratch when a customer places an order. If restaurants start preparing food on order, the serving time will increase considerably. And customers will have to wait for long periods.
Most people will prefer food reheated in the microwave to extensively long waiting periods.
All the above reasons prove that using a microwave is not the ideal choice, but it is a necessity for most restaurants. Using a microwave oven is more feasible and economical for restaurants.
Do Professional Chefs Dislike Using Microwave Ovens?
No, Professional chefs certainly do not dislike microwaves, they just don’t use microwaves to completely cook foods.
Chefs dislike defrosting meats in the microwave, they like to give meat enough time to thaw.
Many professional chefs such as Gordon Ramsay, use microwaves in their restaurants to reheat food before serving. Chefs also use microwaves for heating and melting chocolate, butter, or other similar ingredients.
It basically comes down to their personal preference.
Some chefs are against reheating food in a microwave, they believe food reheated in the microwave dries out and gets overcooked.
Others prefer using it because it saves time.
Is Microwaved Food Less Nutritious?
Microwaved cooking or heating does not reduce the nutritional value of foods any more than conventional cooking. When used correctly, microwave radiation does not cause any harm. According to research conducted in 2019, microwaved vegetables contain more flavonoids than cooked vegetables, and flavonoids help reduce the risk of heart disease.
If you microwave vegetables with too much water, vegetables can lose some flavonoids. When microwaving food, care should be taken to avoid plastic containers.
Plastic containers have phthalates. When a plastic container is heated along with the food, phthalates can break down and creep into the food.
Phthalates, if ingested, can cause hormonal disruption in the body. They can also affect your metabolic system.
Although the olive garden wasn’t using microwave ovens to serve customers frozen dishes, it should have explained it through proper channels, like its official Facebook or Instagram account. It could have also tweeted a response from its official Twitter handle and cleared off its name.
If any restaurant uses unconventional ways of cooking meals, they must inform their customers, so no one feels betrayed.
Microwaves help restaurants save time and resources. Almost all restaurants use microwaves for one task or the other. It can be heating the meals, heating some side dishes or sauces, melting ingredients, or even cooking full-blown meals.
Microwaving food doesn’t destroy its flavor, nor is microwaved food injurious to your health.
What is your take on this whole situation? Should restaurants share everything that’s going on in the kitchen with their customers?