Fresh versus frozen at popular restaurants.

Joined Feb 6, 2010
Hey there.  I'm a newbie at cooking.  No professional experience whatsoever.  But I'm finding myself entranced with various cooking/chef shows on television (Top Chef, Chopped, Iron Chef, Hell's Kitchen, etc.).  One of the themes or often repeated motifs on all of these shows is the "Fresh is better than frozen" mantra.

That got me thinking.  How many of our popular chain restaurants serve food that was frozen? 

Some chain restaurants that pop to mind are:

TGI Fridays
Ruby Tuesday
Red Lobster
Macaroni Grill
Lone Star

Of course, the list goes on and on.  So, do any of you industry insiders care to share?

Thanks in advance!
Joined Sep 5, 2008
I would suppose that ALL major chain restaurants serve food that was frozen. Just a guess though - I have zero experience working in a chain restaurant. They probably serve fresh food too. Some things freeze well, some things freeze ok, some things you can't freeze at all. Most restaurants (chain or not) take advantage of frozen food at one point or another.
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Joined Jun 16, 2007
Frozen can be better than fresh, depending on how good the fresh stuff is that's available, or if fresh is not available.
Joined Feb 13, 2008
It's likely that every restaurant on that list uses a great deal of frozen food; as well as food that's partly prepared off premise.  They're all about consistency and cost control as opposed to absolute quality; and, frankly, none of the them are very good.  

One expects the best restaruants to go out of their way to obtain the best ingredients, and that usually means the freshest. In turn, that usually means never frozen.  Of course there are some exceptions, most notably with seafood.  

As a home cook and "amateur chef" you have a little more leeway.  There's plenty of really nice frozen products which a good restaurant should not use, but you'd be silly not to. 

As for me, not only do I use frozen and part prepared stuff at home, I enjoy eating at some of those chains now and then as well. But if my name was on a restaurant -- heck no.  Nothing but the best.

Joined Mar 3, 2010
i think it depends on the type of product it is, some things wont last long and need to be frozen but some items can be kept in fridge and be fresh. plus when you buy in bulk you get a price brake. at this place I'm doing my internship, nothing is frozen except the desserts and ice cream and some other items but most of their stuff is in fridge like protein.he even said he is gonna get some shrimp that wont be frozen and come fresh. at my restaurant our veal and beef tenderloins and the veal are not frozen.its cut the day of. we gave a lot of fresh vegis and herbs and other items. but we have a freezer to keep some stuff from spoilage. i think its hard to not have a freezer because you do need to store some items in freezers especially in winter time when some of fruits are not available fresh but also depends on usage to. we had fresh strawberries in winter though, not as good but when using as garnish frozen wont do. you probably wouldn't use frozen berries for garnish.

i prefer fresh because that is how i grew up with a growing garden but in business you have to watch food cost and other costs so sometimes frozen foods can be used instead of fresh to get the same outcome. i think it just depends that and unless you have a garden in your back yard and its summer time all the time.
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