Most cooks know that opening the oven releases heat which slows cooking. But on cooking competition shows, many skilled chefs check their oven often, resulting in undercooked food. Do these chefs know something we don’t know, or are they actually making this rookie mistake?

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Most cooks know that opening the oven releases heat which slows cooking. But on cooking competition shows, many skilled chefs check their oven often, resulting in undercooked food. Do these chefs know something we don’t know, or are they actually making this rookie mistake?

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Not an expert chef but I would say it’s not all about saving the heat like you say. Also consider that they don’t want to over cook what’s in the oven and the only way to check is to open it. So it’s a risk either way but they might still open it less than a rookie does?

Professional ovens tend to be convection ovens. They have a fan that moves the air around which prevents uneven cooking (hot and cold apots) and will bring it up to temperature faster.

Standard home ovens have radiant heat, which will take longer to get back up to temp once it has dropped from the door being opened a lot.

On cooking competition shows, there’s some range of cutting and editing going on depending on the show. If your only comparison is shows, you’re probably overestimating how often their ovens are being opened.

They are used to commercial kitchen where the oven is being opened and closed all most constantly, so the temp is set much higher.

Does that really result in undercooked food? It seems to me that undercooked food would only happen if the chef checked the food, found it to be undercooked, and then *removed it from the oven prematurely*.

One, on a cooking show, your audience doesn’t eat the food, they see it. Likewise, in competitions, your food has to be as perfect as you can possibly get it. Losing a little heat and upping the cook time a bit is a small price to pay for knowing the exact status of your food. You lose drastically more time by having to redo it if you burn it, and being able to see exactly how it looks allows you to know exactly when to take it out.

Two, those ovens are mad good. Your glorified toaster doesn’t even begin to compare. These ovens cost thousands, sometimes tens of thousands, of dollars. They heat up far more efficiently than what you’re used to, and reheat faster after they’re opened.

Three, anxiety. In competitions, the *only* thing you’re doing is cooking, and there’s money on the line, so it’s stressful. Especially in baking shows, there’s a lot of downtime while stuff is in the oven, so they’re sitting there stewing in their own stress while they wait. Opening the oven to check your food is similar to checking the clock when you’re almost off work, or peeking out the window when you’re expecting someone to come over. It’s just a tic, and a way to distract yourself from the stress.

The oven door opening is more disruptive when baking a cake (which likes consistent convention heat) compared to baked potatoes under the broiler or something.

I think being on camera makes a lot of people nervous too.

Expert chefs are not following the directions on the box. I’m assuming you think they are gonna pull that food out at 20 min on the dot when the bell rings on their timer or some shit

If you’ve made the same recipe a thousand times using the same equipment, it’s probably safe to go by a time measurement. Chefs on cooking shows are using ovens they’ve never used before, so they don’t know the irregularities of their equipment. The only way to know if something is done is with a thermometer or by looking at it. A measurement of time is not useful on equipment you haven’t used.

Professional working chef here. You can open an oven when something is cooking often depending on what oven you have. Most ovens in professional kitchens have multiple fans or an advance heating method as opposed to what most people have at home with just a raw heating element. It heats up really fast so opening it and checking to see what your food looks like won’t really drop the temp that much. Overcrowding the oven will mess with the heat source more than opening it a lot.

Mass does not lose heat that fast. Some little thing, maybe. A big fat roast or casserole is not going to cool so quickly as to slow down cooking. A few seconds is lost, maybe, but not much.

In competitions, the only thing you’re doing is cooking, and there’s money on the line, so it’s stressful. Especially in baking shows, there’s a lot of downtime while stuff is in the oven, so they’re sitting there stewing in their own stress while they wait.

Also on those cooking shows, they always say to “make sure you add salt”, “season your food” all the time. There’s no way I could tolerate the amount of salt they use on camera sometimes, let alone have it taste good. At the end of the day, a lot of it is just plain fake.

It depends what you’re cooking. Something like a soufflé or a puff pastry of any kind you do not touch. Just time it out.

Now, if you’re cooking a turkey, you need to open the oven every 20 minutes to baste for what could be 4 hours of total cook time. The thermal mass keeps the oven from getting too cool. The food will still come out the correct temp. Nothing will be undercooked unless you pull too soon. Braised short ribs need a bit of fussing too sometimes. My recipe only needs one fussing but my wife’s needs 3 fussings.

Bread, you usually don’t have to check on. Just use time and check when you pull it.

In the end, open the oven if you need to, but if it’s something that is baked based purely on time, don’t. Once you know your oven, you can adjust times accordingly.

FYI, if you are using a conventional oven (element up top) to cook a pizza, it is advantageous to keep the oven door open long enough when putting the pizza in to trigger the heating element to come back on.

That way more direct heat is applied to the pizza promoting a more dramatic rise of the crust!