Are you a fan of Panera’s mac and cheese? I sure am. It’s the highlight of my meal when I go.
But recently you may have seen a viral TikTok showing just how it’s cooked – or, rather, reheated. Many viewers have expressed their dismay, but the shocks don’t end there: the employee was fired for her video!
Ok, let’s put aside the employee being fired for a second (just a second, I promise). Reheating (and cooking) food in food-safe plastic bags is actually a pretty standard method. If you aren’t familiar, sous-vide (the fancy name for cooking food sealed in plastic in a water bath) is a five-star chef way of cooking. In fact, there is a whole system behind it.
“Sous-vide is a cooking technique that utilizes precise temperature control to deliver consistent, restaurant-quality results. High-end restaurants have been using sous vide cooking for years to cook food to the exact level of doneness desired, every time.”
You can buy a fancy sous-vide setup for your home, or you can give it a low tech go by following these three simple steps – once you gather the right pot and thermometer you are ready.
1. Attach your precision cooker to a pot of water and set the time and temperature according to your desired level of doneness.
2. Put your food in a sealable bag and clip it to the side of the pot.
3. Finish by searing, grilling, or broiling the food to add a crispy, golden exterior layer.
This technique distributes heat at an even temperature around the food, giving it exact “done-ness.” Forget the scorching, or overcooked noodles – it’s consistent results, every time.
The only thing that could be wrong about Panera’s technique? How about a flash broil on the top to make the cheese bubbly? Cause, come on.
Ok, back to the employee being fired.
While Panera won’t comment on “personnel matters,” the employee posted this followup video:
And frankly, I think it was a missed opportunity – instead of firing their employee, they should have played it up to the media like, “Hey, we serve sous-vide mac and cheese just like Michelin chefs!”
Because corporate America doesn’t need to keep doing shady stuff to cover up shady stuff.