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Old 06-07-2008, 06:21 PM   #31
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Yes, the only REAL difference between Red Lobster and McDonald's is the quality of ingredients, but make no mistake, this is a large chain restaurant, and like any large chain, they will use mostly pre-fab food.
Not all chains go the pre-fab route though. CPK preps most of their fresh ingredients at the specific locations. But they are very, very strict on portioning. Each ingredient has a specific measing tool for it, beit a teaspoon, ladle, etc. It's down to the 1/8 tsp. for things like garlic, and part of a cooks mise en place at CPK is to make sure that all of their ingredients has the appropriate tool. But that's what makes them so consistent from location to location.

I think a lot of it depends on the cuisine and target market too. A place like Red Lobster, Applebee's, etc. can get away with that, but a place like say, CPK or the Cheesecake Factory can't. I've known people that cooked at a Cheesecake Factory and they have an *** load of prep to do.
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Old 06-07-2008, 06:55 PM   #32
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haven't eaten at red lobster more that three times. had lobster every time. it was just fine. not overcooked and seemed to be fairly fresh. the one near me closed for whatever reason and the next on is to far to mess with.

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Old 06-07-2008, 07:22 PM   #33
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Another factor to consider is that Red Lobster is a reasonably priced restaurant. My husband and I can eat there for $40-$60, depending on what we order, and we don't skimp.
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Old 06-07-2008, 11:12 PM   #34
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Not all chains go the pre-fab route though. CPK preps most of their fresh ingredients at the specific locations. But they are very, very strict on portioning. Each ingredient has a specific measing tool for it, beit a teaspoon, ladle, etc. It's down to the 1/8 tsp. for things like garlic, and part of a cooks mise en place at CPK is to make sure that all of their ingredients has the appropriate tool. But that's what makes them so consistent from location to location.

I think a lot of it depends on the cuisine and target market too. A place like Red Lobster, Applebee's, etc. can get away with that, but a place like say, CPK or the Cheesecake Factory can't. I've known people that cooked at a Cheesecake Factory and they have an *** load of prep to do.
I am sorry, what is CPK?

I agree on the chains, some are better than others. I can think of a dozen places to get seafood out here that are about the same price as Red Lobster but much better, but I would still place RL above McDonald's... just below places like Joe's Crab Shack. DW and I have eaten at RL a couple of times, the food was OK it was the wait staff that made us not go back... hence the fun Red Slobster nickname ;)

I do like Chili's a lot, especially their unlimited soup and salad they have going right now, or the big mouth burgers and the kids love the mini burger bites. Now I am sure a lot of what they serve is strictly controlled as well, how else can chains maintain a consistent level of quality, taste, and feel no matter what restaurant you go to? But it is still good eats in my book, and we enjoy going there.
Sometimes I have more fun at a family or chain restaurant than I do a high end one. I tend to save those for dates, when we can actually go on em...
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Old 06-07-2008, 11:31 PM   #35
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I am sorry, what is CPK?
CPK = California Pizza Kitchen.
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Old 06-07-2008, 11:34 PM   #36
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Ohhhh, thanks! DW and I ate there once, we had a Thai pizza I think and it was pretty good stuff. If I am remembering right, it was down in Atlanta about 9 years ago, LOL. They have them in the grocery store here frozen, but we found out real quick it is just not the same.
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Old 06-08-2008, 10:54 AM   #37
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Really the only fish that doesn't get ridiculously overcooked there is the crab and the numerous selections of fried shrimp. Their offerings are very unexciting, and usually heavy. You would think that by now they might offer things like tuna on the menu, but it seems they're really just against preparing anything that requires implementing some proper fundamentals.

No offense to the OP, everyone needs to start somewhere. However, IMO, Red Lobster is far from the 'cadillac' of seafood that many folks seem to think it is.
They actually have started serving fresh fish now... (at least my red lobster): Atlantic Salmon, Tilapia, Rainbow Trout, Cod, Mahi-Mahi, and North-Atlantic Haddock. They offer a choice of grilled, broiled or blackened for each..

So as far as fresh goes.. I think they are starting to catch on. And those who over cook fish/seafood, IMO, probably have never cooked it for themselves! It doesn't take too many screw-ups to realize.
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Old 06-24-2008, 09:23 PM   #38
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Would love to hear an update on how you're doing, mike. Line cook work is something I'm intimately familiar with. *grin*
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Old 06-25-2008, 12:22 AM   #39
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Well, as an update.... I am not yet on the line..

They have started me at alley coordinator. I make sure everything is correct on the plates, add sauces, call for service, etc. It's fairly easy, and I'm able to watch the line do their thing... which, btw, is not really much at all. Yes, everything is prepped in house, but it's all prepped in mass.. There is no creative cooking. A lot of the food is put through a pizza-hut like conveyor belt, fried, or grilled. The only challenging thing in the restaurant is the grill I suppose, where he takes care of the fresh fish, steaks, shrimp and fire-grilled lobster, that stuff needs to be done with at least some skill. But like I said, almost everything is "in-house" "pre-fab".. Not a sautee pan in site.. But hey, it's a start.. I guess
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Old 06-25-2008, 12:59 AM   #40
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"Chain Restaurants" are looking for uniformity among all of their locations ... what you eat at a location on the East coast will taste the same as one of their locations in the Mid-West, the South, or the West coast - or anywhere inbetween. That way when someone eats at one of their locations (no matter where it is) they know what the food will taste like.

They have an R&D kitchen somewhere where the recipes are worked out and all of their restaurants use those recipes. This allows them to not only control uniformity - it also helps them in bulk buying.

And, the cooking is usually basic - but you can get some good basic cooking skills from working in one of these kitchens. Although the recipes may change - the methods are basic and definable by terms ... learn them, and the techniques, you're good to go on to the next step up.

On the other hand - take a restaurant like Rocco's 22nd Street Restaurant in NYC (Chef Rocco DiSpirito). Although more complicated, and the cooks were more highly trained, and the food was unigue - they still had to follow Rocco's recipes. But, Rocco soon wandered from managing the kitchen and spent his time out in the front of the house smoozing with the female patrons ... the kitchen went into disarray - and Rocco was fired by his backers because the food that came from his kitchen lacked uniformity.

Even Emeril has sold out to Martha Stewart!

So there is nothing wrong with learing the basics, and learing some uniformity.

But - that's just my humble opinion.
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