This is part 6 of our on-going Home Superstar Chef series. The previous posts in this series were Part 1 – Good Pans, Part 2 – Shallots, Part 3 – Pine Nuts, Part 4 – Knives, and Part 5 – High Heat Cooking. This one will focus on restaurant supply houses and while it will be shorter than most of the posts in this series, it may be one of the most helpful.
While I love stores like Williams-Sonoma and Sur la Table, the real stuff is to be had where the pros get their tools. These are not the the places to pick up All-Clad pans or Shun knives, look on-line or in high-end stores for those, but for almost everything else it pays to find out where your local restaurants shop.
I am like a kid on Christmas morning when I wander the aisles of a restaurant supply house. There are so many choices, so many tools that you won’t find anywhere else, and the prices are fantastic. Utensils like whisks, strainers, spatulas and tongs are available for for just a few bucks. Silicon baking mats cost about half what you will pay in a typical cookware shop.
Even better than the bargains are the professional items that are difficult to find anywhere else. Squirt bottles, useful in so many ways, come in a variety of sizes and styles. Food storage containers of all kinds are available that will make you throw away all of those mismatched and strangely sized plastic containers that seem to take up ridiculous amounts of space in your kitchen and fridge.
Then there are the professional pots and pans. I love my high end pans, but there are plenty of times when copper core stainless steel is not neccessary. Stock pots and woks of all sizes fill the shelves at prices that are hard to believe. The same thing for brand name cast iron pans.
I could go on and on about all of the wonders that can be found at your local restaurant supply store and only barely scratch the surface. As important as technique and experience are, to cook like a pro requires the right tools, and there is no better place to find them. If you live somewhere that does not have a supply store nearby, there are plenty of restaurant suppliers that sell their wares online. I have not bought anything from these sites so I can’t vouch for any of them, but the supply house that I physically shop at has an extensive online presence. I prefer buying kitchen tools in person, and I am very happy with them, so I feel relatively comfortable suggesting Ace Mart.
Take your cooking to the next level by getting the right tools, everyone sitting at your dinner table will be glad you did.