Woman talking(l+r), The Cheesecake Factory

SarahJaneJ/Shutterstock @noodlewinter/Tiktok (Licensed)

‘Former Cheesecake employee… let me just say 1 word’: Customer questions how Cheesecake Factory can cook such a large menu

'I imagine it’s a huge freezer and then just a wall of microwaves.'


Beau Paul


Posted on Mar 27, 2024   Updated on Mar 27, 2024, 10:15 am CDT

Any new customer who sits down to eat at The Cheesecake Factory is immediately aware of one fact above all others: That menu is huge.

The popular chain restaurant’s bill of fare is a jaw-dropping 20-plus pages, featuring round-the-world cuisine examples of appetizers, entrees, sides, and (of course) desserts. The sheer variety is a veritable Disneyworld-esque tour of food.

Content creator Noodlewinter (@noodlewinter) had to know how this was possible, so she asked the question of her viewers in a TikTok posted on March 17. The video currently has 11,300 views and counting.

“Do you ever wonder, like how, how can they make all these things?” she asks in the video. “What does the kitchen look like in there?”

“Not only can you get salmon, but you can get grilled salmon; you can get herb-crusted; you can get miso,” she points out as she films the menu. After filming several pages of the tome-like menu, she finally puts the question to her viewers.

“If anyone has ever worked at Cheesecake Factory, please let me know what that kitchen is like,” she begs.

In 2019, Donald Moore, Chief Culinary Officer at The Cheesecake Factory, spoke to Today regarding the chain’s voluminous menu.

Moore said he gets quite the reaction when he brings other chefs into The Cheesecake Factory. “They look at the menu and say ‘You’re absolutely crazy to try to make all this food fresh and to buy so many ingredients.'” Making all 250 items requires 700 ingredients and everything — including more than 160 sauces and dressings — is made in the restaurant’s kitchen. 

— Today

According to Vox, the vast menu “happened because of owner David Overton’s unwillingness to let any other local restaurant compete. As he told Thrillist in 2018, ‘I didn’t want another restaurant to open down the block and take my business away,’ and so began adding anything someone might want to order. The more dishes — Mexican food, different kinds of pasta— that they added to the original 26, the more people responded positively.”

This flies in the face of the common wisdom regarding restaurant menus. According to industry publication Restolabs, a “small menu helps customers place their orders faster that saves them a lot of time and energy. They don’t appreciate large confusing offerings.”

Overton told Vox, “he wouldn’t have made the menu so big and expansive if he had known more about the industry and how restaurants are supposed to operate.”

Brandon Cook, executive chef of The Cheesecake Factory’s culinary research and development, told Vox that the secret to the extensive menu is simple: lots of employees and lots of training.

He said on the first day of the job, he got a recipe book that was “two inches” thick—a tome he assumed was for the entire restaurant. He thought it was going to be a daunting task to memorize it, but it was doable. To Cook’s chagrin, it was just the recipe book for his specific unit, the sauté station.

He said he trained for three weeks before he was allowed to cook. He also described his initial training at the restaurant.

“My station alone had five cooks that would work just 16 burners,” Cook told Vox of his first experience on the line. “It was one guy calling out the guests and starting dishes. It was one guy finishing and garnishing all the dishes, and three guys just cooking. That was just one station.”

The Daily Dot has reached out to The Cheesecake Factory via email for a statement.

@noodlewinter True american eating 😍 #cheesecakefactory ♬ original sound – noodlewinter

Noodlewinter’s video immediately drew naysaying comments from viewers who were convinced that the chain relies on frozen food and pre-mixed sauces.

Allisonlee_lovely (@allisonlee_lovely_) wrote, “I was always told, the bigger the menu the more frozen food.. the smaller the menu the more fresh it is.”

Another viewer simply commented, “microwavable.”

Another added, “It’s all premade frozen.”

However, many former Factory workers chimed in to tell Noodlewinter that such was not the case.

“Former Cheesecake Factory worker. Huge prep kitchen in the back that literally has a bunch of workers hand-prepping sauces and whatnot. On the line there’s 6 different cooking stations,” wrote Kristen (@k_sanch_).

Another viewer, giving credence to the Vox report, wrote, “Surprise! Literally everything is fresh & nothing is bagged & frozen. The kitchen is like 30 cook stations & everyone is shoulder to shoulder!”

“The kitchen had like 8 stations and you can usually see through the window!” another added. “It’s all fresh food too lmao there’s a giant room in the back just for prepping.”

A further remarked, “It’s insane. My ex was a server there and their training was like 3 weeks. He had to memorize the whole menu. Don’t know about the kitchen but what it took to be a server was wild.”

A 2018 BuzzFeed article titled “We Worked In The Cheesecake Factory Prep Kitchen For A Day And Here’s What We Learned” seems to support viewers stating that the restaurant’s large menu is the result of a large staff making the many recipes from scratch with fresh ingredients.

“Everything is examined and tasted to ensure its consistency within those guidelines,” the article noted. “All details are accounted for, right down to the freshly squeezed lemon juice. The screens even break down items as seemingly simple as ‘grilled asparagus.'”

The Daily Dot has reached out to Noodlewinter for further comment via TikTok direct message.

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*First Published: Mar 27, 2024, 4:00 pm CDT