The blurring lines of FAST food and RESTAURANT food – the shocking truth

January 20, 2016 2:57 pm

“Tricks of the Trade” provides a horrifying insight into the running of some of the UK’s best known restaurants. 

Yesterday the media was buzzing with talk on the Channel 4 program “Tricks of the Restaurant Trade”. I was curious and felt I had to watch it - but when I did it shocked me so much that I felt I simply had to write about it!

In many ways it was just another Channel 4 documentary, designed for a small amount of shock value and mindless enjoyment. But given I work for a restaurant chain like Filmore & Union I think it may have shocked me even more than most. Basically to sum it up in a sentence: if you think that when you order a meal in a lot of the UKs largest restaurant chains and expect it to be prepared in the restaurant, then YOU ARE WRONG.

Now, don’t mistake me, I’m not totally naive about the way that a lot of large restaurant chains operate. But I hadn’t realised the shear quantity of food that is microwaved, vacuum packed and shipped into restaurants from all over the country. And perhaps even more alarmingly how little cooking actually takes place.

The biggest shock of the night had to be that some restaurants use pre-prepared vacuum-bagged scrambled eggs. The idea that one can order a dish SO simple as scrambled eggs and it not be cooked fresh is absolutely staggering. In reality I’m not even sure that it can really save that much time by microwaving them! Much more than that it’s really sad that large scale restaurants have to stick to such strict time limits that they feel this change is necessary. To quote the shocked lady on the show: “It takes two minutes to scramble an egg!!”

It’s almost as if the boundaries between fast food and restaurant food have blurred. How has FAST food and RESTAURANT food designed on a mass scale become so integrated? How can restaurant chains that charge £10 + for a main meal not actually prepare the food in branch? And if they aren’t preparing the food in store, then how can the high prices be justified? Working to such tight budgets and to such tight time limits is really damaging to the quality of the food that many restaurants across the UK are serving.

Pizza Express for example, it was revealed on the show ships in its Lasagne from Italy – and whilst it’s nice to know that the Italians had some influence on it, that’s really genuinely quite shocking. It really makes one question just how old some of the food is we are eating and more alarmingly just how many added preservatives are going into it to allow it to last so long.

Here at Filmore though, all of our food is freshly prepared and cooked in our restaurants themselves, ensuring that our customers have only the purest experience possible. And I can 100% guarantee that all our cakes are made by our wonderful chefs at our little bakery, down the road Wetherby!

This is a very different approach to a lot of restaurants in the UK, which ship in their deserts from mass test kitchens hundreds of miles away. The shear idea of shipping dairy based deserts half way across the country, or even continent, days, or even weeks before reaching the plate is really staggering.

This genuinely shocked me so much that when I got into work this morning the first thing I did was go into our test kitchens and get a couple of photos of our chefs in action.

Below is James, one of our chef’s in our head kitchen preparing Filmore & Union’s Strawberry Cake – which will be on a diner’s plate by tomorrow!

Working for Filmore & Union and particularly working in such close proximity to the fast paced kitchen I have become very used to how we do things here. And whilst I am very aware that a major part of our unique selling point is the FRESH element, I hadn’t realised how UNIQUE that really was and it’s really made me question the restaurants that I eat at.

If you haven’t watched “Tricks of the Restaurant Trade” yet, then I really strongly urge you to. It really provides a staggering insight in to what goes on in some of the UK’s biggest branded restaurants.

Follow this link to watch the show in full!