Although cooking shows are still popular and recipes are in demand, food should be as convenient and quick to prepare as possible in everyday life. That’s what not only consumers want, but also chefs.
That’s why the catering industry also frequently turns to prefabricated products – so-called convenience food.
But the advantages of convenience products for the catering industry are obvious:
- Less work and preparation time
- Better planning – less food is thrown away
- Less time-consuming stock-keeping
- Consistent taste of the dishes
Different levels of production and methods of preservation
It is true that pre-prepared foods are generally more expensive than home-processed foods. However, using them is obviously worthwhile because it saves time and, above all, skilled personnel. Reheating does not necessarily require a trained chef. Convenience food is already used in 80 to 90 percent of restaurants, experts estimate. The products are divided into five production levels.
Ready-made products can hardly be distinguished from fresh
Some restaurants use only ready-to-cook vegetables, others cook with ready-made sauces such or deep-fry ready-to-cook breaded cutlets. Since potatoes are considered to be big-time-eaters, almost all potato dishes or products are also available in a ready-to-cook version: hash browns, pancakes, croquettes, gratin, casseroles, duchess potatoes. For the guests, this is usually not noticeable, because the products are becoming more and more high-quality. They can hardly be distinguished from homemade products.
This is also the declared goal of the industry: potato wedges or potato pancakes, for example, are now cut rather coarsely and irregularly so that they look as homemade as possible. The catering trade is even allowed to use the term, even if something is industrially produced because it is not protected.
This also applies, for example, to breaded schnitzel from the assembly line, which some companies produce especially so that the breading blisters as if they were freshly prepared by hand.
Fine top menus: Pre-cooked from the bag
When the restaurant buys so-called high-convenience products, however, it is virtually impossible to tell whether the chef has actually prepared everything fresh himself. These are indeed dishes that can be prepared; however, they are not industrially produced, but freshly prepared in a restaurant.
These type of dishes also often comes with small toys for children similar as we all know from McDonald’s Happy Meal. However, the toys in these meals are usually from high quality and almost always made out of wood. It’s not rare to find amazing houten blokken or wooden jigsaw puzzles for children in them!
A dish is filled separately according to its components – for example, vegetables, mashed potatoes, and meat – in portions in plastic bags. In some cases, companies offering such a cooking service work to the recipe specifications of restaurant owners or chefs. But they also offer dishes they have developed themselves.
The dishes, which are intended for upscale and top-class restaurants, then only need to be heated, refined a little, and served.