Parts of the United States might be bracing for an impending snowstorm—but elsewhere in the world, it’s summer and it’s balmy as hell out.
For example, residents of the Australian city Mildura can expect triple-digit temperatures over the next several days, topping out at around 106°F next Wednesday. It’s so hot that, according to one cafe owner, it’s possible to cook—nay, overcook—a steak in your car.
That’s what happened earlier this week, according to the owner of the Mildura Dockside Cafe, a riverside spot known for its boat rentals and brunch food. In a post on the cafe’s Facebook, the owner alleged to have left a porterhouse steak in a metal pan in their car. After five hours of being parked in the shade, the steak was “very well done upon my return,” the owner wrote.
The before and after pictures show a raw steak in a car, and then a cooked steak in the same pan. Judging by a picture of it cut, the steak looks to be cooked about medium well. “Looks tough… should have gone back at 2 [hours],” wrote one commenter.
If you’re wondering why there was a raw steak in a metal pan left in an unattended vehicle for five hours, the owner of Dockside was specifically trying to make a statement about the danger of hot cars. According to the website No Heat Stroke, vehicle-related heat has killed almost 800 children in the past two decades. “With this heat wave please remember never to leave children, elderly or animals in the car,” the cafe's owner concluded in their Facebook post. (MUNCHIES has reached out to the Dockside Cafe for comment; we have not yet received a response.)
Even though YouTube videos and Bill Nye have already proven that it is possible to cook an egg on the sidewalk or bake cookies on the dashboard of a Lamborghini, Dockside followers weren’t totally convinced by the steak story. “I’m sorry I’m calling bullshit,” wrote one commenter. “A car left IN THE SUN will get up to about 60 to 70 degrees C [140°F-158°F] inside. In the shade? Nope. Not going to get ‘well done.’” In response to the heated Facebook thread that resulted, the owner of Dockside told people to try the experiment for themselves.
Unfortunately, it’s a little too cold in New York right now to do that, so to confirm Dockside’s claims, MUNCHIES did a little digging. On Monday, January 14, when the steak bake is said to have occurred, the temperature in Mildura was above 100°F for most of the day. From 12 PM to 6 PM, the high was about 108°F.
We asked meteorologist Jan Null, whose work focuses on the way that cars heat up internally and runs the aforementioned No Heat Stroke, what that would mean for the internal temperature of a car parked in the shade. “With an outside air temperature of about 100°F (38°C) the air temperature inside an enclosed car would be on the order of 150°F (66°C),” Null wrote in an email to MUNCHIES. “You will have to ask a chef if it would slow cook to well done in that amount of time. This is based on a steak being out of direct sunlight.”
Next, we talked to MUNCHIES culinary director Farideh Sadeghin to find out whether a steak could cook to well done over five hours at 150°F. (It’s worth noting that although an internal temperature of 150°F is recommended for medium well, well done is really more like 160°F.)
“Mmm weird probably, like, in the oven. If you want to sous vide it, you could go lower,” she wrote over Slack. Upon clarification that the steak was being cooked in a metal hotel pan in a hot car, she responded, “So like, not sous vide tho. And like, from raw? That sounds awful.”
Still, when asked if she’d eat it, she wrote, “Well yes tbh.”