The High-Tech Way Ruth's Chris Keeps Its Steaks Sizzling

If you've ever taken a marketing course, you've heard of the ever-essential USP, aka Unique Selling Proposition, that one special benefit that makes a business stand out to customers, per Forbes. And if you've ever eaten at a Ruth's Chris Steak House, you can probably guess that its USP is that signature sizzle — the sound of a steak as it arrives at your table on a roaring hot, 500-degree-Fahrenheit plate.

Take it from Lana Duke, the advertising professional who helped transform the famous steakhouse from a New Orleans staple to an international fine-dining operation that consistently wins awards from Wine Spectator and Distinguished Restaurants of North America. In an interview with Dine Magazine, Duke explains that a custom broiler cooks the steaks at 1800 degrees Fahrenheit, while the scorching-hot serving plate keeps them "hot to the very last bite."

"It was difficult to get every Ruth's Chris in the world to do that," she said. "'If it doesn't sizzle, send it back.' That helped build the brand."

Here's how Ruth's Chris' infrared broilers work

The Daily Meal reports that the specific technology used to cook a Ruth's Chris Steak House steak is an infrared broiler. These broilers differ from the ones attached to conventional gas or electric ovens because they heat a large, level surface rather than a winding rod or set of pipes to an even temperature, Fine Cooking explains. This type of surface radiates heat more evenly over the broiling food, so you end up with a steak that's expertly seared and consistently colored all over, rather than pink in one spot and black on another.

The broiler is also really hot, as you may have noticed when reading the words "1800 degrees Fahrenheit." A BlueStar Salamander infrared broiler, for example, reaches up to 1850 degrees Fahrenheit and has cooking racks that allow you to move the food closer to the broiler, as you would for an intensely seared steak, or farther away, as you would for more delicate seafood.

A standard broiler only reaches about 550 degrees Fahrenheit, per Bon Appétit, making the Ruth's Chris method a bit unapproachable for the home cook without a Salamander, which starts at $4,090. A sizzling Ruth's Chris bone-in New York strip, on the other hand, will run you $66. You do the math.

Why diners love a sizzling steak

When it comes to creating a high-quality steak, chefs need to engage all of their senses. According to Men's Journal, many steak cooks rely on sight and touch to determine how well a piece of protein has cooked. But some astute professionals can listen to the sizzle and tell just how far along the cooking process has progressed. The sound of a perfect sizzle typically follows the formation of the perfect brown crust, making food taste even better. The creation of this crispy exterior is known as the Maillard reaction, and it makes food much more appealing to diners, per Serious Eats.

Humans have evolved to appreciate this chemical reaction, which causes proteins and sugars to transform when exposed to heat. The reaction signals that the food has better nutrition than an uncooked meal while also demonstrating that bacteria and other dangerous pathogens have been cooked off. The sizzle of a steak accompanies this reaction, and when diners hear it, food sounds that much more tempting. 

For this reason, some restaurants even opt to serve steak on sizzling cast-iron plates, per Delicious Food & Wine. Ruth's Chris has tapped into this evolutionary love of sizzling meat and makes its meat cooking system that much more appealing.

What diners love most at Ruth's Chris

When patrons decide to visit Ruth's Chris Steak House, they can opt for a sizzling steak among a variety of other beloved menu items. According to Delish, diners love to pair their proteins with Veal Osso Buco Ravioli or a Pomegranate Martini. For the ultimate broiler experience, one reviewer preferred either the filet or the New York Strip steak, while the Garlic Crusted Sea Bass provides a lighter alternative for anyone wanting to dig into a main protein.

No one knows the Ruth's Chris menu better than the restaurant itself. And according to its website, you can't go wrong when you choose any steak. Ribeyes offer the most intense flavor, while the filets come out the most tender. A T-Bone or Cowboy Ribeye steak offers the best bone-in experience, while the porterhouse gives you the biggest bang for the buck. For an all-around good time, though, the restaurant recommends its New York Strip steak. 

When in doubt, any of these options can serve up that sizzling goodness associated with the chain. Any meat-loving diner will be hungry at just the thought of the sound of a steak hitting a hot pan or broiler.