I’ve only been to The Cheesecake Factory a handful of times, but for a chain restaurant, I have to say, it’s pretty impressive. In my experience, chain restaurants typically leave something to be desired, but The Cheesecake Factory usually puts out some pretty decent food, despite the fact that its menu is about as long as the dictionary. What’s really cool in terms of an execution standpoint is that all of its menu items (and I’m talkin’ hundreds of them) are made from scratch, and they even mention it on their own website’s homepage. All except for one.
And that item is? Yes, the cheesecake. Surprisingly, the namesake dish of the restaurant isn’t made in house at all, but is shipped in from bakery facilities (or are they factories?) in Calabasas, California, and Rocky Mount, North Carolina, according to Eat This, Not That. This feels almost like a betrayal, doesn’t it?
It especially feels funny because of that scratch kitchen I just mentioned. Back in 2018, a writer from Buzzfeed visited a Cheesecake Factory’s prep kitchen to work for a day, and documented just what a well-oiled machine it was. For a former restaurant worker like me, you learn to have an appreciation for other people’s kitchens that move smoothly, even more so when they’re super-high output. I’ve never been to a Cheesecake Factory location that wasn’t busy. Every kitchen hand has to be on their A-game when you’ve got a non-stop stream of tickets in front of you.
Cheesecake, however, is a pretty tricky beast to execute consistently. I’ve only made a few in my time, but they’ve always turned out sort of funny, as in they were cracked, baked unevenly, or just ugly and wrinkly on top. In order to crank out that volume of cheesecake, I imagine it takes special equipment and a lot of skilled labor (considering even making one isn’t easy). This means that each Cheesecake Factory would essentially need a completely decked-out separate kitchen inside each location just to put out desserts.
The cheesecakes that are shipped in come frozen, and are thawed for service later. I guess when I’m busy chowing down on handmade avocado egg rolls and lettuce wraps, I probably wouldn’t mind much if my cheesecake was made on industrial equipment, now that I think about it. It is called a “factory,” after all.