How do restaurants prepare complex foods/recipes in a much shorter time?

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k.udhaya

Assistant Cook
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I take this food as an example:

https://youtu.be/u66pG73UroY

I had kept chopped onion, cut tomato pieces, cashew milk, marinated chicken etc. ready before I turned on the stove. But the stove time itself took me about 40 minutes (sauteing of onion and tomato, mixing of chicken with different masala powders and boiling chicken).

But if i order the same food in a restaurant, it doesn’t take more than 20 minutes to reach my table. How do they prepare it so quickly? If you were a chef, what would you have done to achieve this?
 

taxlady

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Sorry for the late reply. I just noticed this post. I know that many Indian restos make a large batch of "curry base" fresh each day and it sits on the stove for use when cooking various dishes. The base is ready to have other flavours add to it to make different dishes. I imagine that there might be chicken and other types of meat, already marinated with salt and pepper, waiting to be flavoured further and used in various dishes.
 

Andy M.

Certified Pretend Chef
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Restaurants prepare any number of common ingredients ahead and just toss them together and heat thru for an order. The chicken seasoned with salt and pepper is probably common to several dishes and could even be cooked ahead and just heated in the sauce which is also prepared ahead as tax lady suggested.

Also, watching that video I think the cook times for the steps in the video are overstated.
 

JonasStax

Senior Cook
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Apr 11, 2022
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Kings Park
Herbs and spices, before refrigeration were used to prevent food poisoning.

https://news.cornell.edu/stories/1998/03/food-bacteria-spice-survey-shows-why-some-cultures-it-hot
https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/49/6/453/229475

In tropical and subtropical climates, traditionally all meat was marinated in herbs and spices for 24 hours to eliminate the food spoiling bacteria.

Restaurants are businesses. Like all businesses dependent on traffic, they keep records of seating at particular hours. With meat dishes, the marinated meat can be removed from the refrigerator or cool room ahead of time ready for the customers. The meat won't spoil because the marinade cannot support bacteria growth.

As stated above the curry base is ready. The same with vegetables, all pre-cut and stored in the cool room. It is just a matter of cooking, hence the amazing time factor.

With pasta, the chef cooks a packet of pasta according to the manufacturer's packet directions and tastes it. Next the chef cooks another packet of pasta for one minute less, pours into a colander and plunges it into ice water to stop the cooking process. The pasta is taken out and placed in a flat pasta pan, filled with oil and refrigerated. When a customer orders pasta, the pre-cooked pasta is taken out, refreshed for one minute in boiling water, taken out and served with hot sauce.

There are also pasta manufacturer's specifically manufacturing for catering and restaurateurs. Lasagne, ravioli, etc., are already prepared, the restaurant just cooks according to the manufacturer's directions and adds their own sauce. The customer cannot tell the product is from a pasta manufacturer.
 

k.udhaya

Assistant Cook
Joined
May 30, 2022
Messages
2
Location
Chennai
Sorry for the late reply. I just noticed this post. I know that many Indian restos make a large batch of "curry base" fresh each day and it sits on the stove for use when cooking various dishes. The base is ready to have other flavours add to it to make different dishes. I imagine that there might be chicken and other types of meat, already marinated with salt and pepper, waiting to be flavoured further and used in various dishes.
Hi,

Thanks for your comment. In the video I shared, can you pl. tell what exactly is called the "base". May be you can mention the timing in the video clip that covers till the base?
 

taxlady

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dragnlaw

Site Team
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Waterdown, Ontario
Hello k.udhaya, Welcome to DC.

I agree with Andy, I believe the times are a bit off. Some of them could, are probably are, combined. Example, 4-5 minutes for the onion with the ginger/garlic 2 minutes having perhaps been added at the 3 minutes mark with the onions. A good amount of this could also have been prepared ahead of time, just waiting for a scoop to be taken out and tossed into the ready pan.
I also think that with for speed, the burner is not raised and lower in heat as suggested, perhaps just taken off the burner with they want it lower and then put back. Only by the cashew milk and yogurt would it have actually been lower and then simmered. But I still think the timings are a bit too long.

As per taxy. Most of those spices would have been premixed much earlier in the day. The meat chopped much earlier with S & P already done. The chicken most likely already partially cooked. Most everything would have been brought out and lined up, ready to go.

Restaurants start prepping their food much earlier in the day and have several people doing individual jobs all way before you came in. Perhaps when they get your order, all that needs to be done is dump in the chicken pieces to sauce already prepared, reheated, stir in the cashew and yogurt, bring back to temp, add the last trimmngs and serve. 20 minutes - done!

You, on the other hand, are walking into the kitchen and doing all the prep yourself, before you even get near the stove. It has probably taken you 15 to 30 minutes to gather/chop/measure/line-up and then you pull out a pan and start to heat it up.

So don't feel bad about not being able to do the same thing - when, in actual fact, you should feel proud that you have! Experience may shave off 5 minutes or so. That video adds up to 37 minutes - 40 minutes isn't that far off.
 

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