Producer’s note: Someone on Quora asked: What do professional chefs think about the use of microwaves to cook food? Here is one of the best answers that’s been pulled from the thread.
I love [microwaves]. As I always say, the difference between a foodie and a real chef is that one of them likes, the other one maligns, the magnetron.
Microwaves rock. I can make anything from tasty bread to quick maitre d’ butter in them, I can heat water or pre-cook sausages that I just have to crisp up on the grill. I can make desserts and re-heat soups without fear of burning the sediment.
And that’s not all. The microwave is a nifty, modern, heating mechanism. Like every other way to cook food, it’s good for some and not so good for others (no one would suggest making consomme in the oven, for example). What happened somewhere in the 90s was not that microwaves started sucking bad but that they got judged not for what they were but what went into them – ready meals. Which is, if you think about it, about as stupid as judging fridges and freezers just because McDonalds uses them too.
A few years back I got a one-star Yelp review that went something like this: “The food was excellent and we loved it last time. This time we had the seat right at the bar and I could look in the kitchen and I saw someone put something in the microwave!!!!!one111eleven!!”.
What an idiot. Walk into any Michelin starred place or any of the Top 20 S. Pellegrino places and you’ll find at least one microwave. When at 9pm my place is hot and we’re in the weeds do you really want me to make clarified butter in a pot? How do you think we get these soft and moist and very, very, delicious buns out? Yes, a microwave steamer. Microwaves heat the water that produces steam.
Microwaves do things other heating methods can’t. And they do some things poorly. Just like the difference between a grill and a griddle, a pan and the oven, or a broiler and a steamer. Don’t discount any of them, they all have their place in modern and craft based cooking.