The Art of Perfectly Cooked Steaks: Why Waiters Recommend Medium Rare Over Well Done

When it comes to the art of cooking steaks, there’s a lot of debate about the best way to do it. Some people swear by the well-done steak, while others insist that medium rare is the only way to go. But why do waiters often recommend medium rare over well done? Is it just a matter of personal preference, or is there more to it? Let’s delve into the world of steak cooking to find out.

The Science Behind Steak Cooking

When you cook a steak, a series of complex chemical reactions take place. These reactions, known as the Maillard reaction, are responsible for the browning of the meat and the development of complex flavors and aromas. The Maillard reaction begins at around 140°F (60°C), but it really kicks into high gear at temperatures above 300°F (150°C).

When a steak is cooked to medium rare (around 130-135°F or 54-57°C), the Maillard reaction has had a chance to do its work, but the meat is still juicy and tender. On the other hand, a well-done steak (around 160°F or 71°C) has been cooked past the point where the Maillard reaction can contribute much flavor, and the meat can become tough and dry.

Why Waiters Recommend Medium Rare

Waiters recommend medium rare for a few reasons. First, it’s a temperature that allows the Maillard reaction to develop complex flavors without overcooking the meat. Second, it’s a safe bet for most diners. While some people enjoy the flavor and texture of a rare steak, others find it too bloody. Medium rare offers a good balance of flavor, tenderness, and juiciness.

Freedom of Choice

Of course, diners are absolutely entitled to freedom of choice when it comes to how they want their steak cooked. If you prefer your steak well done, there’s nothing wrong with that. However, it’s worth noting that cooking a steak to well done can make it tougher and drier, and it may not have as much flavor as a steak cooked to a lower temperature.


In conclusion, while there’s no one “right” way to cook a steak, there are scientific reasons why medium rare is often recommended. It’s a temperature that allows for the development of complex flavors and aromas, while still keeping the meat juicy and tender. But ultimately, the best way to cook a steak is the way you like it best.