THE BLOG
12/23/2013 01:22 pm ET Updated Feb 22, 2014

What's the Difference Between Restaurant Cooking and Home Cooking?

This question originally appeared on Quora.

Answer by David Williamson, Hospitality and Tourism Industry Management Consultant and Professor

Par Cooking. We cook a lot of things 2/3 of the way to done and then stop the cooking by shocking cold. For example, home cooks will cook the pasta until it's ready and then sauce it up and serve it. Pros cook the pasta until it is not quite done, portion it into small bags, and then wait for an order. When the order comes we will bring the bag of pasta out and pour the pasta into boiling water and pull it back up pretty quick - just long enough to heat the pasta through - and toss it with the sauce. In this way, we can put up a pasta dinner in about 5 - 7 mins. We'll be doing this with anywhere from 5 - 25 pans of food at a time, surrounded by several other cooks doing the same thing in order to put six orders - or 26 for that matter - up in the pass at a time. We are prepared to cook everything on the menu at any given time which can be 30 or 40 or even 100 different items, whereas home cooks generally cook one thing at a time for just a few people. Really, it is very different, but the one thing that gets lost in all the TV shows and such is this: restaurant cooking is REALLY hard. It is like a full contact professional sport, and when you're done your body is worn out. Home cooks tend to cook for pleasure, and don't get me wrong, pros love cooking, but we don't have a choice. When service comes, regardless of how we feel, we need to cook. This is different from home cooks and even other professions. Desk workers, when they're feeling unproductive, can slink off to the bathroom, or wander over to someone else's desk, but we can't do that. When the tickets start coming in we have to cook! cook! COOK! Home cooks, if the dish is wrong, they can call out for a pizza.

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