Cheesecake Factory Behind the Scenes Tour + Lunch - I got to tour The Cheesecake Factory's Denver Kitchen to see how their 250+ menu items are made from scratch daily and try out some of their top sellers and new menu items.
This post is sponsored by the Cheesecake Factory. All opinions are my own.
I was recently invited to tour my local Cheesecake Factory in Denver, Colorado for an epic lunch and behind the scenes tour of the Cheesecake Factory Denver's kitchen - where they make over 250 menu items fresh daily.
I got to learn more about how The Cheesecake Factory prepares their massive menu with over 250 fresh items every day - nothing made from frozen or boxed here.
I also got to learn a little bit about the chefs and cooks behind The Cheesecake Factory (I am incredibly nosy, but I love to ask employees about their company and how they feel working there - I was thrilled that everyone seemed to light up when I asked how they liked working in the kitchen - and most had been with The Cheesecake Factory for 4, 6, 10, and even 15 years!)
It was a very warm, welcoming, and well-run kitchen - nothing like you'd see on crazy chef TV shows. Everyone seemed to really enjoy their jobs - but also each other- which always makes me excited to eat the food they are sending out.
Touring the Kitchen at The Cheesecake Factory
When I first arrived, I got to head back into the kitchen and check out some of the prep for the day's meals - lots of chopping herbs, simmering sauces and soups, forming pizza dough, and cutting avocados (more on that in a minute.)
The kitchen was spotless and despite people quickly buzzing around from room to room (there are multiple rooms to the kitchen where different preparations are happening, as well as a dry goods storage area and walk-in fridge), it was a quiet and well organized scene as they prepped for the lunch rush, and orders started rolling in.
The Cheesecake Factory's Fresh Made Sauces
With over 250 fresh menu items, The Cheesecake Factory kitchens are very busy everyday prepping dishes and getting everything just right for lunch and dinner services.
One of the things I love most at The Cheesecake Factory is all of their from-scratch sauces that go over pizza, pasta, salads, as well as alongside your favorite appetizers - and I loved checking out how some of them come together.
I got to sample some of the Shanghai Noodles Spicy sauce as it sat, slowly bubbling before service, as it had been made early that morning ahead of the busy day.
When I saw all the prepwork ahead of the day, I asked about waste - assuming a lot of what I was seeing would go to waste since everything is made fresh. I was really excited to learn that The Cheesecake Factory is actually great at planning out how much food they will go through each day - so while they are exceptional at prepping a lot of meals ahead of time, they have worked a system to drastically reduce any waste - and work with local charities to donate unused food when there is any.
I got to sample many of the famous sauces, and see how my favorite gravy came together - these herbs and vegetables will actually simmer and break down for a day before serving so the flavors can intensify in the gravy, which is what makes their gravy so unbelievably delicious!
The Cheesecake Factory's Avocado Egg Rolls
I got to watch the avocado egg rolls as they were prepped - the massively popular appetizer is one of the most popular appetizers on the Cheesecake Factory's menu.
First a large array of fresh herbs were chopped, the secret vinegar was poured in, then tomatoes, and finally, using a giant potato slicer, the avocados were cut into 1" chunks (cutting avocados into large chunks is necessary for the texture and flavor of The Cheesecake Factory's Avocado Egg Rolls.)
I then watched as the line cook placed a dollop of the avocado and herb mixture into an egg roll and rolled it all up ready to be fried - the whole operation took less than 10 minutes for her to go through a bunch of egg rolls!
Finally, I got to see the tamarind dipping sauce being made- this sauce is one of my all-time favorite things (I would drink it with a straw if it was socially acceptable) - it has over 18 ingredients, and 20 steps to come together.
Fresh Pastas and Pizzas
At the front of the kitchen, visible to the dining room, is the fire station - where the fresh seafood, pastas, meats, and appetizers are cooked on their way to your table.
There is a giant pizza oven, and a station where a chef is hand-tossing pizzas made-to-order - giant stoves with pans of pastas and veggies being sauteed, and fryers for french fries and egg rolls.
It was awesome to see how things flow through the kitchen - from cool storage, to prep, to the stoves - and out to our table!
Lunch at The Cheesecake Factory
Now came the fun - after the kitchen tour, it was time to try some of their signature dishes I got to see coming together in the kitchen!
As anyone who has ever visited The Cheesecake Factory knows, their portion sizes are generous. So generous, in fact, it would be easy to split with a friend - but for me, it is perfect to have for lunch and bring home leftovers for dinner. (I am convinced The Cheesecake Factory must figure what reheats well into their menu planning because their leftovers are always totally delicious and taste just as good as they did in store - which completely mystifies me!)
What to Order at the Cheesecake Factory
With over 250 dishes made from scratch daily, it can get overwhelming to pick a meal you'll love, right? Wrong! There are so many delicious dishes at the Cheesecake Factory, you won't walk away hungry (and bonus - their crazy-generous portions are fantastic for leftovers for dinner, too!) and there is something fresh and delicious for everyone on the menu.
Some of my can't miss items from The Cheesecake Factory are:
From the menu: Avocado, Sun-Dried Tomato, Red Onion and Cilantro Fried in a Crisp Wrapper. Served with a Tamarind-Cashew Dipping Sauce.
My take: I don't LOVE avocado - but these were totally irresistable. Crunchy on the outside, creamy on the inside, with a rich and fresh flavor thanks to the herbs and tomatoes. The sauce though..... I might have used the eggrolls just as a way to scoop up as much sauce as I could get. The tamarind sauce has a salty-sweet and slightly tangy peanut flavor that is heaven-sent with the avocado egg rolls.
From the Menu: Spaghetti with Chicken, Mushrooms, Snow Peas, Onions and Garlic in a Sweet-Hot Sesame Ginger Sauce.
My Take: The spicy-sweet noodles are rich, hearty, and BURSTING with flavor. This might be my new favorite dish of all time at the Cheesecake Factory - it isn't too spicy, but has the perfect kick, especially over spaghetti. The noodles helped break up some of the heat from the sauce - but soaked up all the spicy ginger flavor so each bite was incredible. This pasta was so hearty, I could probably make 3 meals out of it.
From the Menu: Fresh Miso Marinated Salmon Served with Snow Peas, White Rice and a Delicious Miso Sauce.
My Take: I haven't ever had The Cheesecake Factory's fresh fish dishes before, mainly because I am such a fan of their pastas I just can't resist - but the miso salmon was instantly one of my favorite dishes of all time when I tried it! It is buttery and slightly sweet thanks to the miso sauce - and the rice underneath was perfect to soak up lots of the sauce with.
The salmon had a fabulous flavor, and the crunch on the outside was perfection!
From the menu: Our Charbroiled Burger Stuffed with Cheddar and American Cheese with Grilled Onions and Special Sauce. Served on a Toasted Brioche Bun with Lettuce, Tomato and Pickles.
My take: This burger is just as delicious as it looks - topped with hearty, rich, and sweet caramelized onions - and oozing with gooey cheese inside. While I couldn't try the sauce (I am allergic to mustard), my friend said it was the perfect addition to the incredibly cheesy and juicy burger!
From the menu: Large Shrimp Sautéed with Tomatoes, Lemon, Garlic, Herbs and Fresh Basil on Top of Angel Hair Pasta with a Touch of Marinara Sauce.
My take: While this pasta might sound simple, the flavors were exceptional. The shrimp was perfectly cooked, and the angel hair's fresh tomato sauce was bursting with garlic and basil flavor that made this pasta a can't-miss.
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Mashed potatoes and gravy are "just" a side dish - but let me tell you, I could live off The Cheesecake Factory's gravy. It is rich, salty, meaty, and packed with flavor - and over their perfect rustic mashed potatoes (I remember getting their mashed potatoes in high school thinking it was such a novelty to leave the skins on - and it has since been my favorite way to prepare potatoes) the gravy is sublime. It really could be it's own dish, I love it so much!
Ok - I know what you're thinking - aren't I missing something kind of important at The CHEESECAKE Factory?
Don't worry - with all the incredible food, we still had room to sample some cheesecake, for reporting's sake, of course.
For me, anything chocolate is my favorite kind of cheesecake - so I had no problem picking out some favorites (anything with chocolate, snickers, or reeses is sure to win a quick path to my heart) - and the brightly colored and amply-sprinkled celebration cheesecake was totally adorable, perfect for a birthday.
What is YOUR favorite item on The Cheesecake Factory menu? What are you most surprised is made fresh in-store to order? Tell me below in the comments!
I am so lucky I had the chance to learn more about Cheesecake Factory’s made from scratch foods, and also so thankful that I am able to share that with all of you! If you haven’t been to Cheesecake Factory, you need to find the closest location near you and find your favorite from-scratch creations (and maybe try some of my favorites!)