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Place for cheap restaurant/baking supplies?

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Hi everyone. As a budding chef who just graduated from culinary school and a certified "newbie" to these boards, I was wondering if someone could help direct me to some great restaurant and baking supply stores in LA or the SF Valley that offer cheap, quality wares (What can I say? I'm a "starving student"). Even open to buying used if that helps keep the price down. Since I'm in the process of opening my own dessert catering company, I'm looking for cake turntables/decorating stands, cake boxes, baskets, cellophane bags/wrap, etc. -- pretty much anything that will allow me to create, serve, and deliver top quality cakes, cookies, etc. The one thing that I'm really looking for is a case-size supply of ceramic salsa/bean/rice/flan cups that you usually find at Mexican restaurants (I use these for baking individual desserts).

I plan to check out Surfas today (which I've heard everyone rave about), and I've already been to several places on/around Washington (Alpine Fixtures, Charlie's Fixtures, B&B Restaurant and Baking) to get some basic pans and accessories. Anyone have any hidden (or even not-so-hidden) places that you wouldn't mind sharing?

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  1. Star on Sepulveda in Van Nuys. Not as vast as Surfas, no edible items, lots of good cook's tools, wares, knives, pans, cookers, prep, storage, pots, pans flatware, tableware and more.

    Also, as a newbie, make copious use of teh Chowhound "search" function!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Diana

      Thanks Diana. I appreciate the help (in fact, I'm already familiar with Star). And yes, "search" is already my best friend. :)

    2. There's a place on Glenoaks in Glendale next to Cafe Bravo.

      1. When you get your business license in hand, be sure to get yourself a free membership to Restaurant Depot and Jetro (same ownership):

        http://www.restaurantdepot.com/
        http://www.jetro.com/

        Case quantities of ceramics and glassware, boxes and sheets, sacks of flour and sugar, etc...

        2 Replies
        1. re: Joe Blowe

          You must have been reading my mind Joe. I was also wondering about wholesale ingredients as well. Thanks everyone.

          1. re: Joe Blowe

            I know Restaurant Depot claims they're "not open to the public" but I have walked in and purchased items without a membership, and I am just a member of the public. And their prices blow Surfa's away.

            All those places on Washington are the best deals I know of.

          2. I'm not sure if you also need serving and plating supplies and platters but on the corner of Fairfax and Beverly is Bargain Fair. You'd definitely be able to get dessert cups, etc there. And they bargain at the bargain fair. I'm sure you can set up a deal with them if you order en masse. You'll love Surfas... I could spend HOURS in there just loving the baking section.

            1. Check out Dish Factory in downtown LA. They have new, overstock and used equipment, dishware, etc... I've seen used commercial Hobart mixers there and other things that might interest you. They sell stuff for Mexican restaurants and probably have those ramekins and cups you're looking for. They sell by the case or individually.
              http://www.dishfactory.com/location.htm

              Also downtown on Spring Street across the street from the Cornfields Park there's a kitchy coffee shop called Nicks Cafe (started by an LAPD detective and owneded by a LAPD lady detective--only open breakfast and lunch, caters to city workers, cops, etc..), but down that street which I think is W. Elmyra are a couple Asian restaurant supply places which are cheaper than other places the general. In that area there are other restaurant supply places that I think caters to the mom & pop Asian trade.
              Nicks Cafe
              1300 N. Spring Street
              Open M-Sat at 5am-2pm Sat till 11am

              Canton Food Inc., Kind of like an an Asian Costco, they have all kinds of restaurant supplies, ingredients, cake boxes, bags, containers and their prices must be competitive because its packed with mom & pop restaurants shopping there. It isn't only Asian food and supplies because they carry all kinds of meats, frozen seafood, and produce for the trade. Cash only.

              750 S. Alameda Street
              corner of 7th St. next to Farmer Boy's
              Open 7 days M-Sat 7am-5pm Sun. 8am-3pm

              2 Replies
              1. re: monku

                Canton Food Inc is a good source but you must check prices. Their produce, flash frozen meat, seafood and Asian goods are deals, but many non-Asian items are more expensive than Smart and Final!

                1. re: christinescamel

                  If you think so there's a Smart and Final close by on Hobart.

              2. I too love Surfas but for commercial restaurant equipment and other supplies both Western and Chinese, Action Sales is the best! Lots of great Chinese food for lunch nearby as well.

                http://www.actionsales.com/Index.asp

                2 Replies
                1. re: sel

                  Gloria's Cake Supplies
                  3755 Sawtelle
                  310-391-4557
                  in WLA

                  1. re: Francesca

                    I second Gloria's cake supplies, I made hella macarons for Xmas and this place was a great find for all the niceties, the food color and cello bags, boxes, everything on the decorative side as well as entire sections devoted to various holidays and kids fancies. Bargain Fair as was mentioned above is also a great find and a place to plan to spend some time!

                2. I found some pretty neat industrial cooking stuff at the Costco Business Center in Hawthorne but there are several other locations in LA. They have a limited supply for small businesses but the quality is quite good especially for cooking utensils (knives, measuring equipment, misc serving gadgets, etc.). All you need is a general Costco card to get in and purchase things. Very little crowd to deal with.

                  1. Since it seems you are a culinary professional, Sur La Table would extend a 15% professional discount on anything they sell with the exception of electrics. Just a 10% discount on those. They have locations all over the city.

                    1. I only saw a mention of Smart & Final so, let me make that endorsement. While not everything is a bargain, I've purchased quite a few pieces of cookware and tools at very reasonable prices not to mention bulk ingredients as well.