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9 Behind-the-Scenes Restaurant Secrets from a Real Chef

Wondering what happens behind closed kitchen doors? A restaurant chef spills the beans!

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motion chefs of a restaurant kitchenShutterstock / SnvvSnvvSnvv

We’ve all seen some pretty scary restaurant secrets in tell-all style movies like Chef, Waiting and Burnt. But do you want to know what really goes on behind closed doors at a restaurant? It’s not actually as bad as you might think!

See what restaurant managers won’t tell you.

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Chef in Restaurant garnishing vegetable dishKzenon/Shutterstock

It’s Rare to Find Something Gross in Your Food

It happens occasionally, but chefs work really hard to make sure your food is free of contaminants. It’s not like the movies where the cooks do weird stuff to your food! So, if you don’t like it, send it back without fear.

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Chef in restaurant kitchen at stove with pan, doing flambe on foodKzenon/Shutterstock

Sometimes, the Pans Catch on Fire

Part of the reason your food tastes so good is because restaurant cooks use screaming-hot pans. It’s the best way to get beautiful sear on a steak or caramelize vegetables before finishing them in the oven. From time to time, a pan gets a little too hot and catches on fire! In case you’re wondering, covering it with salt is the best way to extinguish it quickly.

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Woman peeling garlic by hand for cookingShutterstock / Nungning20

Chefs Use Lots of Kitchen Hacks

Ever read about a cool way to peel garlic quickly? A chef probably discovered the hack as a way to save a ton of prep time! You’re always running behind in a commercial kitchen, so you have to find creative ways to do a quality job that much faster.

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Slice of butter. Fresh sliced butter on the wooden plate.Shutterstock / greenazya

Your Food Has Lots of Salt (and Butter)

Wondering why your home-cooked meal has a hard time rivaling the restaurant’s version? It’s probably because their chefs use way more salt and butter than you do at home. These ingredients might not be healthy, but they’re definitely flavor enhancers.

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Chef finishing her plate and almost ready to serve at the table. Shutterstock / Volodymyr Goinyk

There’s Always One Dish on the Menu the Cooks Despise

Even when I was designing my own menus, there was always one dish on the menu that was super difficult or time-consuming to put together. You’ll always work hard to make it great, but you sort of groan to yourself when you see it on the ticket.

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Garlic and onionTimmary/Shutterstock

Onions and Garlic Are Probably in Everything

You might not like the taste of pungent onions or overpowering garlic, but they’re probably in all the sauces, dressings and marinades—even if you can’t see it. Since a lot of these foods are prepped in advance, it’s very hard to accommodate people with those allergies.

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Group of chefs working in the kitchenShutterstock / ZoranOrcik

There’s No Such Thing as Weekends and Holidays

When everyone else was enjoying their three-day weekends, I was at work making sure their meals were prepped and ready to eat. Becoming a chef definitely means giving up weddings, funerals, parties and family gatherings. Hopefully you like the people you work with, because they become your new family!

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male cooks preparing meals in restaurant kitchenShutterstock / Volodymyr Goinyk

The Cooks Touch Your Food

If you’re a germophobe, you might not want to read this one. Some states require the use of gloves, but most allow line cooks to touch ready-to-eat foods with their bare hands. Don’t worry, though: Most cooks are compulsive hand-washers.

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Famous Chef Works in a Big Restaurant Kitchen with His Help.Shutterstock / Gorodenkoff

Most of Your Food is Prepared in Advance

In order to get your food to you as quickly as possible, most of the dishes are prepped in advance and reheated to order. But, that doesn’t mean that you’re getting worse-quality food. In fact, preparing the food in advance actually gives the flavors a chance to mingle, making it even better.

Here’s everything that restaurant owners wish you knew.

Lindsay D. Mattison
After years of working in professional kitchens, Lindsay traded her knives in for the pen. While she spends most of her time writing these days, she still exercises her culinary muscles on the regular, taking any opportunity to turn local, seasonal ingredients into beautiful meals for her family.