Restaurants Use A Lot More Butter Than You May Think

Have you ever wondered what makes restaurant cooking sometimes superior to home fare? Well, the answer may be more simple than you imagined. The decadent maxim of "Butter makes everything better," is entrenched in restaurant cooking, to the point that it may shock you at how much butter the chefs are ladling onto your freshly tossed pasta, seared steaks, and poached fish. And while the home cook may be confined to adding a few tablespoons per meal, the restaurant chef has no such qualms. 

So how much of the good stuff is really going into your favorite entrée? According to the late great Anthony Bourdain, as much as 1 whole stick of butter, or ½ cup, can find its way into your plate of food. He claims that butter is used in everything, from searing off a fish filet to plumping up a sauce to creating a perfect steak compound butter. And when more butter makes everything taste better, you can see how a chef may go overboard.

The buttery secret behind your menu order

Bourdain isn't the only one proclaiming butter as the secret to a restaurant's success. An article in the New York Post quoted numerous top restaurant chefs, admitting that butter was freely and extravagantly employed to pump up the richness of dishes. As Gray Kunz, the late chef of the legendary Lespinasse restaurant, said, "If you knew how much butter goes into a risotto dish, you'd probably never eat it again." 

And things don't seem to be slowing down. Per Restaurant Business, butter consumption per capita has gone up 29% over the past decade, with many recognizing that chemically engineered butter substitutes caused more health concerns than the real thing. 

Still, if you're looking to sidestep some of this hidden butter, a dietician interviewed by the Monterey Herald recommended diners ask the waiter how a dish is prepared. If there's too much butter sautéing or poaching for your liking, you can opt for a steamed or boiled substitute. Otherwise, it's best not to dwell on why your favorite restaurant's rich piece of poached salmon tastes so divine — just savor the butter-rich moment.