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What should a home cook buy at a restaurant supply store?

CindyJ Feb 7, 2012 07:31 AM

I've recently become aware of two large restaurant supply stores close enough to where I live to warrant a visit (one of them is even in sales tax free Delaware!). I went online to browse through their merchandise and, as you might expect, it's overwhelming -- and tempting. A trip to one of these places could easily set me back a small fortune.

I'm certain there are bargains to be had, but I'm really not sure which items are really "finds" for home cooks. What are your recommendations? Thanks!

  1. m
    mikie Feb 7, 2012 07:41 AM

    It's only a bargan if you need it and will use it. So my advice is only buy what you need. If you need a 24 quart stock pot then that will be a bargan, but if you don't need it, well then it's just a storage nightmare. Most of what they have is going to be priced better than at your local cooking specialty store. Be aware, some items that you might be interested in, the price is controlled by the manufacturer and the restaurant supply store can't sell them at a discount.

    1. j
      Jeebs Feb 7, 2012 07:54 AM

      I buy stuff that gets used nearly everyday, like tongs, spatulas, strainers, whips, cheese graters... that sort of thing. I've also picked up carbon steel pans that are hard to find elsewhere. The nice thing about buying from restaurant supply is that everything is built for use and doesn't come with some gaudy "ergonomic" handle or the extra cost of a celebrity endorsement.

      19 Replies
      1. re: Jeebs
        CindyJ Feb 7, 2012 09:13 AM

        Are those carbon steel pans the ones I see TV chefs using - or do they use stainless steel? I've often wondered about those utilitarian silver pans.

        1. re: CindyJ
          j
          Jeebs Feb 7, 2012 10:06 AM

          I'm not sure what the TV chefs use. When I was a cook we used carbon steel for all our saute dishes. They are cheaper than stainless and they heat quicker.

          1. re: CindyJ
            hotoynoodle Feb 9, 2012 07:35 AM

            tv chefs usually have a company that gives them pans for product placement on the show. you'll see it in the credits at t the end.

            1. re: CindyJ
              f
              fourunder Feb 9, 2012 09:01 AM

              I suspect the *carbon steel* pan you reference are called *French or Mineral* fry pans. The are made of mostly iron (99%)

              1. re: fourunder
                CindyJ Feb 9, 2012 09:30 AM

                Do those pans require any particular care/maintenance? I really like to see TV cooking shows where the pans are obviously well-used.

                I looked at some pans at the restaurant supply store yesterday. Some were aluminum, and they seemed rather flimsy. I'm not sure what the others were. I'll do a little "legwork" before I shop there again, so I can be more knowledgeable about what I'm looking at.

                1. re: CindyJ
                  f
                  fourunder Feb 9, 2012 09:35 AM

                  The more you use them, the better they get. I don't recall ever having to pre-season them before use. They heat fast and evenly. Great for quick pan fry of fish.

                  Usually, a quick brush and rinse does the trick.....wipe with a towel.

                  http://www.chefscatalog.com/product/25200-de-buyer-mineral-fry-pan.aspx

                  http://www.google.com/#q=french+carbo...

                  If you like restaurant quality items.....go to a restaurant auction. You can pick up most anything for 10-25% of original cost @ wholesale restaurant supply prices.

                  I've purchased these type pans used for 3 bucks, new for 5 bucks....the latter though, I had to purchase a lot of 10.....still a great deal....you could sell the excess on eBay or give them away to your friends at Christmas or on their Birthdays. : 0)

                  1. re: fourunder
                    CindyJ Feb 9, 2012 09:45 AM

                    Don't you always have to buy huge quantities at these auctions? How do you find out about restaurant auctions?

                    1. re: CindyJ
                      f
                      fourunder Feb 9, 2012 10:17 AM

                      Every auction is different depending on the size of the restaurant, or business, offered at sale. Small wares and China are often combined, but the prices are so low it doesn't matter. Sure, some of the items are throwaways, but you only need to get a few items in a lot to make it a good value. Using fry pans as an example, you could purchase one or two if they are large(14 in)....5-10 if they are medium(10-12 in) and 5-10 if they are small(6-8 in). Out of those numbers, all may be in great shape, or only a percentage. Many times though, single items will be offered, as that is how they bring in the most money. They separate the great condition items and auction them off first.....they bundle the lesser quality ones knowing they will not bring in top dollar.

                      Using the items you recently purchased as an example, if all the items were used, they would probably fit in one container, or a bus tub with a lot number assigned. The lot in the tub would probably not exceed $20 for all.....but some things like a thermometer may or may not work. That's the chance you take, but use your eyes as the best indicator. If the restaurant is well kept, chances are you are risking very little in any purchase you make. Some items you would never think to have in your home, but make great additions are things like scales. New they could be $70-100....rarely do they ever fetch more than $15 dollars at auction. The Coca-Cola boxes you see at your local deli.....if you need a second refrigerator, you can purchase one for $100 or less.. The sheet pans mentioned above....you can get them usually for less than $2 each. Sometimes they require you to buy them all, but sometimes they will announce you only need to buy as many as you want. After the winning bid, they ask you how many you want. At these prices, they are cheaper than disposable aluminum trays.

                      Usually, the Auctioneer will advertise in the largest newspaper for your region. In my area of New York and New Jersey, that means the Sunday NY Times and the Sunday NJ Star Ledger....both in the Business and Financial Sections. Your local paper may do this on the prior Wednesday for next weeks auctions. If you rarely purchase the newspaper anymore, just record who the major auctioneers are and check their websites.. They always have their upcoming auctions listed in advance.

                      My personal favorite item to get auctions is triple gauge aluminum or copper pots and pans.....especially Braziers or Sauciers with lids. These would normally go for a couple of hundred dollars, but at auction I could pick them up for $30-50. You can also get some pretty good furniture and decorations as well. Think of your favorite restaurant going bust and getting that Armoire, Butler's Table, Picture or Framed Mirror...or simply the collectibles scattered throughout the dining rooms or bar area.

                      1. re: fourunder
                        c
                        carbondiamond Feb 9, 2012 10:27 AM

                        Fourunder-I completely agree with you. I loved a good auction. The mixed lots could be lots of fun. I still have seasonal decorations that I use that were part of a mixed lot. I do recommend going to auctions with measurements of all doorways so you don't get overexcited and bid on something that just won't fit. Yup, it happened. A lovely Wolf range sat in the garage for 3 years because it wouldn't fit.

                        1. re: carbondiamond
                          f
                          fourunder Feb 9, 2012 10:40 AM

                          Great minds.....:0)

                        2. re: fourunder
                          CindyJ Feb 9, 2012 01:20 PM

                          That's really helpful, fourunder. I'll be sure to check my Sunday Inquirer and take it from there. I'd love to find a used Robot Coupe food processor...

                          1. re: CindyJ
                            f
                            fourunder Feb 9, 2012 02:27 PM

                            CJ,

                            Below is the link to one of my preferred auctioneers who does everything correctly. i.e., he does not play games and palms the bids with a quick knock down and gives items to his friends.

                            Click on the link and go to the *Past Auctions* feature, There you will see two past auctions for an ice cream store and a Pizzeria UNO. Click on them individually and you will see another link to download the catalog. This will give you an idea of what to expect should you ever go to an auction. Basically, they may require you to register with a $100 deposit. Once you register, they give you a copy of the catalog and the items offered.. You get this right back if you do not win anything or if you decide to leave early. If you win something, they will often accept this as the deposit for the first item you win. Any additional items won and they want you to give some additional cash. I usually just give another $100 or 35-50% if requested.. It's the one quirk of auctions in my area. I don't take it personally.

                            The Classified listing in the newspaper usually has the items available listed so you know what is available and what to expect. The robot coupe may be found in auctions for restaurants, delis or fitness clubs...even Public Storage facilities (Storage Wars). If you check the public notices, that's where some storage facilities will list locker items...specifically mentioning restaurant goods.

                            http://www.ajwillnerauctions.com/

                            1. re: fourunder
                              CindyJ Feb 9, 2012 07:41 PM

                              Wow! I know there are auction houses around where I live, but they're not (at least to my knowledge) liquidators -- they handle primarily estate contents. Do you ever find that your impulses get the better of you in auction situations?

                              1. re: CindyJ
                                f
                                fourunder Feb 9, 2012 08:31 PM

                                When I first went, I would show my hand and bid early due to the fact i did not know any better.....however, I've since learned not to bid based on emotion. My bidding is dictated by how badly I need an item or piece of equipment. If it is essential, I do not mind over bidding to save me time and energy....but if it not essential, then I wait to see where the price is going. I've learned from experience, everything comes up for sale sooner or later, so I do not feel compelled to bid or purchase unless I need to.. Depending on the item, I assess what I feel it would go for and I set a price. ....or I use my memory from previous auctions for similar items as a guideline. I try not to exceed that price and get into any bidding wars.. the worst thing you can do is get emotional and impulse buy/bid. Most auctioneers have shill bidders to raise the price if they see you have interest.....that why you never open any bids and wait until the auctioneer says ...*Going Once*. For arguments sake. let's say I put a price on something @ $100 dollars as fair value. i would not expect to exceed 125 on any bidding, as I would expect another auction would come up again very soon....especially when considering restaurants and other food related businesses.

                                With your mention of of a Robot Coupe.....if all the parts and attachments are there, they usually go for $200-300 . That may seem high to some, but the regular price is normally $900-1200 depending on specific model. Once in a while someone will get into a war and may go as high as $900...Seems crazy since they can buy new, but the buyer may need it fast and thinks he saved 300 bucks. Whenever bidding on items like that, I always factor in that a small repair will be needed costing 100-300 dollars depending on condition. That's how I set my limit price......I've seen Kitchen Aid Mixers and Food Processors, home models, sell for $100 or less in almost new condition, or up to full retail......You never know what will happen.

                                I've also seen Villeroy and Boch China go for $5 per plate. Even though it;s a great buy and people know what it is, they do not know how or where to re-selll....and it's too nice to put into their restaurants....so no one bids. That's the craziness of the auction....but what also creates the excitement and adrenaline . Some items will always go for good money, e.g., food slicers....as deli meats or thin slicing is needed in all food operations. Obviously, you do not need a behemoth model, but a small commercial slicer is 7-900 wholesale. You can pick up one for 300 or less. The Home Cuisanart./kitchen Aid/Chef's Choice model my niece and nephew purchased for their Dad went for $450 retail at Bloomingdale's. Any cheap commercial model is 10 times better than the best home model .

                                Given a choice between All-Clad or Vollrath ...I'd rather use the latter...and that's why I use commercial cookware in my kitchen at home.

                                eBay will give you an idea of the skills you need to assess the potential final bid. Start by tracking an item you are familiar with and set the price you would pay. You mark the listing in your *Watched Items*. See what the final bid is. That's how you get a feel for what an item is worth to others.

                                If you watch Storage Wars, it will give you an idea of how it works, but in my opinion, the auctions can be staged at times. .....and they definitely inflate the prices for television. The final bid may be true, but the guesstimate is always exaggerated.

                                1. re: fourunder
                                  CindyJ Feb 10, 2012 05:36 AM

                                  It sounds like the lyrics of The Gambler -- "You've got to know when to hold 'em,
                                  know when to fold 'em..." And I suppose remaining emotionally unattached is key.

                      2. re: fourunder
                        CindyJ Feb 9, 2012 10:00 AM

                        A look at the Restaurant Store website shows they carry French style Vollrath carbon steel fry pans, but they're only available in quantities of 6 or 12, depending on the size. I see they also have to be seasoned before using.

                        1. re: CindyJ
                          f
                          fourunder Feb 9, 2012 10:50 AM

                          My idea of the mineral pan is to transfer the iron into the diet....so seasoning wouldn't be of any concern for me.....seasoning to me is to make the pan less sticky with food. the beauty of the mineral pan is it gets seasoned the more you use it and the pan gets darker with each use....

                          That's just my personal take.

                          I cannot speak for the quality of other manufacturers compared with Vollrath, but you can certainly find the pans online at much cheaper pricing. In lieu of that, I suggest eBay.

                          http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vollrath-5893...

                          1. re: fourunder
                            s
                            shezmu Feb 10, 2012 12:47 AM

                            "My personal favorite item to get auctions is triple gauge aluminum or copper pots and pans.....especially Braziers or Sauciers with lids. These would normally go for a couple of hundred dollars, but at auction I could pick them up for $30-50. "
                            ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

                            I read this sentence and literally pushed myself back out of my chair almost. Perhaps copper isn't out of my reach afterall. I'll definitely look into restaurant supply stores and auctions.

                            1. re: shezmu
                              f
                              fourunder Feb 10, 2012 07:43 AM

                              While restaurant kitchens will not have many copper pots for cooking, many better restaurants use them to serve menu items in. Also, the kitchen may keep one or two sauce pots exclusively for reheating soups. That's how it was in the kitchens I was associated with and it's how it is done in the restaurants now that my friends own. It must be because of a tip they learned somewhere along the way in their career paths.

              2. meatn3 Feb 7, 2012 08:22 AM

                Some of the most useful items I've purchased at restaurant supply stores are plastic serving utensils.
                I love the miniature clear plastic tongs - they are great for a cheese of vegetable platter. They are cheap enough where I don't worry about loosing them at a pic-nic or potluck. Same with larger serving spoons. The clear plastic blends with just about any casual serving dish and are machine washable. There are times when I don't want to have to keep track of my nice stainless utensils, but still want something which does the job well and looks decent.

                Instant read thermometers are usually much less expensive at these stores.

                Cambro makes food safe clear plastic bins in a variety of sizes and are great for pickling/brining/etc. They nest together so storage is not so bad.

                Ice wands are great if you cook large batches and need to cool the food quickly to store (stock, etc.)

                Bus bins are very handy. I've used them in small kitchens to wisk away dirty dishes and stash elsewhere until later. I've also used them for a variety of messy craft and household projects when I needed something larger than a dishpan.

                2 Replies
                1. re: meatn3
                  CindyJ Feb 7, 2012 09:09 AM

                  I'm writing a shopping list as I read these posts...
                  *Ice wand
                  *Plastic bin for making "health salad"
                  *plastic tongs

                  1. re: meatn3
                    breadchick Feb 7, 2012 04:05 PM

                    meatn3, you know my dirty little secret. I love me some bus bins - especially when I have a dinner party and I don't want to be in the kitchen cleaning while guests are about. Throw everything in them and put them in the laundry room for later!

                    I love restaurant supply stores: years ago, before I could afford good cutlery I bought cheap steak knives - if they got dull I just bought more of them. Kitchen gadgets I couldn't find in any store - this was before Wm Sonoma, Different Drummers Kitchen, and other shops popped up locally. I love the Cambro storage, hotel pans, etc.

                    Years ago, I told my husband that basically I'm a wanna-be chef and my kitchen is my restaurant - ha.

                  2. Chemicalkinetics Feb 7, 2012 08:24 AM

                    There are tons of things to buy really. In part, it really depends on what you like to cook. In addition, you should focus on what you don't have. If you already have a frying pan you like, then buying another one isn't really saving you any money -- even if it is cheap. I will focus on utensils because most people already have the pots and pans they need, but restaurant supply store often offer unusual utensils. A rubber cutting board is also something unique -- if you like that kind of thing. Some people like it, while some don't. Neverthless, it is one of those things you will hardly see in a regular store.

                    http://www.nytimes.com/1999/08/04/din...

                    Kitchen knives are always nice -- focus on Dexter-Russell or Victorinox or higher quality brands. Don't buy low quality ones.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                      CindyJ Feb 7, 2012 09:00 AM

                      Funny you should mention those knives -- it was my search for a Victorinox slicing knife that first alerted me to these stores.

                    2. m
                      MikeG Feb 7, 2012 08:26 AM

                      One "bargain" that shows up at commercial supply stores is a full range of Dexter-Russell knives. Meant to be essentially disposable in commercial settings, they aren't "great quality", but they are well-made in their price class and quite cheap compared to the big consumer brands. You might want to spend more on a better chef's knife that gets a lot of use, but it's good way to get speciality items like ham slicers and filleting knives that home cooks generally use infrequently. In a restaurant, they might last a few months before being replaced, at home, they can last for years.

                      1. AmyH Feb 7, 2012 08:35 AM

                        I have gotten a lot of heavy aluminum baking pans at my restaurant supply store. I have a couple of normal sized (15x17?) and I also got an extra large one that just barely fits in my oven, and two small ones (maybe 9x15?) that are really handy not just for baking small amounts of things but also for prep work like laying out chicken breasts for salting and peppering before sauteeing. I have two stainless steel frying pans from there, one 14" and one 11", that I love. They're made to withstand a lot of use. I've also gotten a nice teflon coated one with a metal handle so it can be put in the oven, too.

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: AmyH
                          Caitlin McGrath Feb 8, 2012 01:33 PM

                          Yes, heavy aluminum half-sheet pans is my recommendation. Cheap, sturdy, bake everything well, don't warp at high heat. Catalogs like King Arthur Flour sell these for three times what they cost at a restaurant supply store.

                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                            AmyH Feb 8, 2012 03:47 PM

                            Definitely half-sheets but also full sheet and quarter sheet. It's great to have the different options.

                            1. re: AmyH
                              Caitlin McGrath Feb 8, 2012 08:57 PM

                              I've never had an oven (or even storage space) that would accommodate a full sheet pan!

                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                Terrie H. Feb 9, 2012 09:35 AM

                                Yeah, my half sheet fills almost the whole shelf in my oven. Guess we can dream..... ;))

                                1. re: Terrie H.
                                  CindyJ Feb 9, 2012 10:11 AM

                                  I was delighted when half sheet pans slid comfortably into my new ovens; I can't imagine a home oven that could easily hold a full sheet pan.

                                2. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                  AmyH Feb 9, 2012 01:12 PM

                                  Maybe I'm mixing up half sheet with full sheet. I'll measure it when I get home. It fits into my oven with about 1" of space around it. Not great for heat circulation, but great when you have a lot of something to bake. It lives in my basement with my 16" and 14" fry pans. With 4 kids I often have to double or triple recipes for big batches.

                                  1. re: AmyH
                                    AmyH Feb 9, 2012 06:01 PM

                                    My big sheet pan is about 15 x 21. What fraction of a sheet is that? My oven is 16 x 24, so it fits.

                                    1. re: AmyH
                                      f
                                      fourunder Feb 9, 2012 07:20 PM

                                      Generally...

                                      Quarter Sheet Pan 9 x 13

                                      Half Sheet Pan 13 x 18

                                      Full Sheet Pan 18 x 26

                                      Sizes can vary plus or minus based on manufacturer for quarter and half sheet pans. Full Sheet Pans are pretty true to the dimensions. as they are meant to be slid into other equipment like rolling racks or refrigerators, so they cannot vary much in size.

                                      1. re: fourunder
                                        AmyH Feb 10, 2012 07:20 AM

                                        Come to think of it, maybe they did refer to it as a 3/4 sheet pan at the supply store. In any case, it's very handy to have one for big batches.

                          2. SanityRemoved Feb 7, 2012 08:56 AM

                            Make use of the employees, many have been in the business a long time and have a lot of knowledge to share. Let them know that you want the stuff that is going to last. Some of the larger metropolitan stores in addition to excellent products, carry cheaper lines that cater to the less informed start up restaurants who are trying to pinch pennies. Smaller stores tend to carry what the established restaurants demand. "Cash and Carry" stores may only be part of their operation and they may have other locations in other locales. So if you don't see what you are looking for, ask.

                            Some may have a minimum purchase amount required. But developing a good relationship with the store is not only possible but may result in them waving the minimum purchase when you only need one item.

                            As for "finds" that is really a tough question and the easy answer would be almost everything. There are some things that will only be sold in quantity. Packs of dishes and glassware by the dozen and things like that.

                            1. kaleokahu Feb 7, 2012 09:10 AM

                              Hi, Cindy:

                              You put your finger right on the button: shopping a a resto supply store can be quite overwhelming. Best to go in person, with plenty of time, no distractions, no impatient companions. Even then, it's easy to be overwhelmed. The good news is that you can always go back.

                              Obviously pots and pans are bargains there. But I urge you to use some of your time looking at the smaller things that make prep, cooking, serving, cleaning and storing easier. Good examples include dishers (sized self-emptying serving scoops); strainers/Chinoises; strong, efficient, sealable food containers; oven mits/side towels; mixing bowls; condiment cups; barware; pour spouts; squeeze bottles. The list is very long. Some things are shocking to find on a first-time visit, e.g., a really good, large, beautiful pepper mill for $30, rather than $130 at a home kitchen store.

                              Have Fun,
                              Aloha,
                              Kaleo

                              1. s
                                soupkitten Feb 7, 2012 09:22 AM

                                sheet pans (1/2 sheet-cookie size), stainless sauce pans, volrath restaurant fry pans

                                small cambros, offset spatulas, offset serrated commercial bread knife, $5 throwaway parers, cambro liquid measure/pitchers in 2 sizes-- 1 L/1 qt, and 2 L/2 qt, fish spatula

                                parchment paper, foodservice film, commercial foil

                                --your specialty stuff

                                18 Replies
                                1. re: soupkitten
                                  CindyJ Feb 7, 2012 01:27 PM

                                  I really want plastic wrap in 18" length -- I used to be able to buy it in the supermarket, but no one carries it these days for some reason -- but it looks like I'd have to buy at least 2,000 linear feet -- that's more than I'll use in a lifetime.

                                  1. re: CindyJ
                                    s
                                    soupkitten Feb 7, 2012 01:40 PM

                                    you know, i've got an 18" roll in my home kitchen as we speak, as well as 8" standard! they do take up space, but they are worth it, and it's also worth it to spend $10 on it and never have to buy the ridiculously inferior grocery store stuff ever again! i have an old-timey stainless steel wall mounted bread box, and i keep them stacked on top. seriously, you will never go back... i was wrapping up holiday leftovers at a relative's home using some glad craptastic abomination and i got angry. i mean, strangely, irrationally angry, at having to work with something so horrible! :)

                                    1. re: soupkitten
                                      kaleokahu Feb 7, 2012 04:08 PM

                                      Hi, soupkitten:

                                      Wouldn't it be great to have a kitchen with built-in dispensers for big wide rolls of wrap, parchment, waxed paper and HD foil?

                                      Kaleo

                                      1. re: kaleokahu
                                        s
                                        soupkitten Feb 7, 2012 04:23 PM

                                        invent this dispenser! i'd be your 1st customer, and CindyJ your 2nd! :)

                                        1. re: soupkitten
                                          CindyJ Feb 7, 2012 04:26 PM

                                          Absolutely! :-)

                                        2. re: kaleokahu
                                          breadchick Feb 7, 2012 04:37 PM

                                          Here you go:
                                          http://www.webstaurantstore.com/edlun...

                                          I WISH I had wall space for these.

                                          1. re: breadchick
                                            CindyJ Feb 7, 2012 04:54 PM

                                            Right!!!! Pay $12 for the plastic wrap and $184 for the dispenser! How well does the in-box cutter work?

                                            1. re: CindyJ
                                              breadchick Feb 7, 2012 05:05 PM

                                              Ha, don't know since I can't get it. Although, there IS one on that site for less - it's around $48 and can be wall-mounted.

                                              I like the idea of using this wrap to keep my seldom used serveware clean and dust free.

                                        3. re: soupkitten
                                          CindyJ Feb 7, 2012 04:18 PM

                                          I just can't imagine where I'd stash a box that big. Maybe if I rearrange my pantry closet -- but then I'd have to remove the box from the closet to use it. This requires some serious thought...

                                          1. re: CindyJ
                                            s
                                            soupkitten Feb 7, 2012 04:27 PM

                                            in past kitchens, i stored the boxes vertically in a closet or tall pantry cupboard. seemed to take up less space that way. they are heavy buggers, but i don't mind too much.

                                            1. re: soupkitten
                                              CindyJ Feb 7, 2012 04:30 PM

                                              But then you have to remove them from the closet to use them. That's not so bad with a normal-size, 18" roll of HD foil, or parchment paper, but I'll bet that big roll of plastic wrap weighs 10-12 pounds!

                                              1. re: CindyJ
                                                s
                                                soupkitten Feb 7, 2012 04:37 PM

                                                yes, you are right, at least until you've used it half up! to me, it's worth it.

                                                are you or someone you know handy? i've thought about disassembling the box, sandwiching the back of the box between 2 pieces of 1by4, screwing together, and mounting the whole dang box to the wall, before..... uh, either a hideously ugly solution, or very pro-industrial chic, depending on your viewpoint. i don't know! perhaps it wouldn't be worth it, for most folks.

                                                1. re: soupkitten
                                                  CindyJ Feb 7, 2012 04:59 PM

                                                  There's GOT to be an easier way!

                                            2. re: CindyJ
                                              m
                                              mikie Feb 7, 2012 04:31 PM

                                              We've had the big roll for years, I think we're on our second and our daughters use the rolls as well. It's just so much better, and yes it's a storage issue, we keep it in a counter under the counter.

                                              And Kaleo, who has a kitchen big enough to have all that stuff in a dispenser? We're glad to have cabinet space for it. ;)

                                              1. re: mikie
                                                CindyJ Feb 7, 2012 04:36 PM

                                                I'll bet a kitchen drawer can be designed to accommodate those big boxes -- and to allow for dispensing the products without removing the boxes.

                                              2. re: CindyJ
                                                l
                                                Leolady Feb 8, 2012 06:58 AM

                                                I bought this old grocery paper dispenser to hold huge rolls of kitchen wrap. They have new versions available that would look good in any kitchen.

                                                 
                                                1. re: Leolady
                                                  kaleokahu Feb 8, 2012 12:41 PM

                                                  Hi, Leolady:

                                                  Great find. I have some bench-mount roll dispensers for butcher paper, but I was fantasizing about having the rolls hidden behind a cabinet door, with slots cut out for the wrap, foil, etc.

                                                  I'm sure Martha Stewart or some other home decor doyen has already made one for rolls of giftwrapping paper.

                                                  Aloha,
                                                  Kaleo

                                            3. re: CindyJ
                                              p
                                              pine time Feb 26, 2012 09:20 AM

                                              Oddly, I find 18" rolls at the grocery store (or Target, WalMart, etc) around the holidays, usually with cute little images on it. Guess it's used to wrap up gift baskets. So, I buy a bunch during the after-holiday 50% off sale, and wrap with Easter bunnies or Santas all year.

                                          2. j
                                            jeanmarieok Feb 7, 2012 10:10 AM

                                            Silicon spatulas, those chinese spiders for pulling things out of the deep fryer, tongs, cooking utensils like that are really really cheap ($5 or less ) at my restaurant supply store. I also picked up a no-name cleaver for less than $20 from a chinese restaurant supply store that is amazing, we've been using it for years.

                                            1. c
                                              caviar_and_chitlins Feb 7, 2012 10:12 AM

                                              ditto the sheet pans- AND the wire rack that fits them. cheap, tough, use for everything.

                                              1. m
                                                Miss Priss Feb 7, 2012 12:37 PM

                                                You might enjoy this 2007 piece by Mark Bittman of the New York Times on equipping a home kitchen from restaurant supply stores: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/09/din...

                                                While I was dismayed by Bittman's reference to "Bowery Street" (as any New Yorker should know, it's just "the Bowery"--where were the copyeditors that day??), and while I personally think Chef Restaurant Supply (corner of Houston Street and the Bowery) has better prices and a better selection than the place where he did his shopping, it's certainly a worthwhile article.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Miss Priss
                                                  CindyJ Feb 7, 2012 01:25 PM

                                                  GREAT article, Miss Priss -- thanks!

                                                2. caseyjo Feb 7, 2012 01:33 PM

                                                  Half sheets, bench scrapers, and fine mesh strainers. Oh, and stainless mixing bowls of all sizes. I prefer to get smaller utensils and gadgets at the restaurant supply, and pick up pots and pans off Amazon or if thrift stores. I've been to kitchen supply stores that have selections of Staub and Le Creuset, but I've found them for less elsewhere.

                                                  Oh, while you're there, you may want to get your knives sharpened!

                                                  1. porker Feb 7, 2012 05:02 PM

                                                    victorinox paring knives, about $3-$5 each.
                                                    kitchen scale.
                                                    industrial oven mitts (they're rated by temperature).
                                                    no-frills aprons (if you use aprons).
                                                    roast pan metal rack.
                                                    wooden spoons.
                                                    plastic cutting board.
                                                    electric food warmer from their used department.

                                                    1. Terrie H. Feb 7, 2012 05:02 PM

                                                      My two favorite purchases from the restaurant supply store were a half sheet pan and a lidded plastic tub (sorry but I don't know the exact term) that is great for everything from raising bread dough to brining meats. One thing I regret buying is a way-too-big stockpot (what was I thinking?!?). If you barely will use it once a year, it's not worth it even if the price is right.

                                                      People covet my half sheet pan... just saying!

                                                      1. g
                                                        grant.cook Feb 7, 2012 06:22 PM

                                                        Its not a restaurant supply house, but you are pretty near Fantes in Philly, which is always fun to explore..

                                                        Here's what i hit Eastern Baker's Supply up here in Boston for.

                                                        1) Half-Sheet pans and cooling grids (and I've had friends ask where I get my pans)
                                                        2) Dishers - they have all the sizes
                                                        3) Cambro storage
                                                        4) Forschner Fibrox knives (in this case, a long slicer)
                                                        5) Various misc utensils - Matfer Exoglass stuff, exopats (the Matfer version of Silpats)
                                                        6) Various baking molds - brioche molds, tart pans, small things I use occasionally.

                                                        For fun, try to find an Asian restaurant supply store - some unique stuff, but great to explore... I stocked up on tiki glasses at one place..

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: grant.cook
                                                          CindyJ Feb 8, 2012 06:03 AM

                                                          I've been to Fantes many times, and it's always fun browsing around there. That's not exactly a bargain-hunter's paradise, though.

                                                          These Cambro storage containers seem to be quite popular. I'll be sure to have a look at them.

                                                        2. n
                                                          NotJuliaChild Feb 7, 2012 09:20 PM

                                                          Cindy,

                                                          Would you mind sharing the name of the store in Delaware? What city is it in?

                                                          Thanks!

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: NotJuliaChild
                                                            CindyJ Feb 8, 2012 06:00 AM

                                                            It's called The Restaurant Store. The address on their website is Wilmington, but if you're going to put it into a GPS, based on their zip code you might have to use New Castle.

                                                            3065 New Castle Avenue, Wilmington, DE 19720 Phone: 302-421-9950
                                                            http://www.therestaurantstore.com/131...

                                                          2. Robin Joy Feb 8, 2012 06:24 AM

                                                            Online ordering reduces the temptations, I find. Do you have anything like this in The States?:

                                                            http://www.nisbets.co.uk/Homepage.action

                                                            Multiply by 1.6 to get USD prices.

                                                            1. l
                                                              Leolady Feb 8, 2012 06:45 AM

                                                              I have found lots of bargains in used restaurant supply stores. Everything from heavy sheet pans, stockpots, Robot Coupe R2 food processor, maple butcher block table, Thorpe rolling pin, cooking spoons and forks, spatulas, saute pans, and a lot of other things.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: Leolady
                                                                s
                                                                SocksManly Feb 8, 2012 11:33 AM

                                                                One restaurant grade thing I'm very happy to have is clear, square food-grade plastic containers instead of the stuff you'd get at walmart. I only have sort of large ones, but I find them really great because they fit into the fridge well being square, you can see what's inside them, they have labels on the sides for how much is in them, etc. Any kind of leftovers go into those, including stocks, soups, etc.

                                                              2. t
                                                                thimes Feb 8, 2012 02:23 PM

                                                                1/2 Sheet pans

                                                                best bargain around

                                                                1. d
                                                                  dalewest Feb 8, 2012 08:30 PM

                                                                  I love my 1/2 sheet and 1/4 sheet pans from the restaurant store. They are very versatile, For example, I use a 1/4 sheet to isolate a raw chicken when I am seasoning it. Both are also great when you have a cutting board that fits inside so you can carve tableside with no worry about drippings.

                                                                  The other items from the restaurant store are rectangular storage containers. I have a couple of the larger lexan ones (8 quarts?) with red lids and a couple of smaller ones. I use these for things like brining chickens. They fit into a fridge much better than a round container. I use one of the smaller ones for my flour container. It is perfectly sized to hold a small bag of flower.

                                                                  Last but not least, serious oven mitts that nearly cover your elbows. They ain't pretty but they work darn well.

                                                                  1. f
                                                                    fourunder Feb 8, 2012 08:40 PM

                                                                    W

                                                                    1. CindyJ Feb 9, 2012 06:29 AM

                                                                      Okay, so I made my first trip to this place yesterday. I felt like a kid in a candy store, walking up and down the aisles. Here's what I bought:

                                                                      a 10" Victorinox slicing knife (that's what led me here initially)
                                                                      one 1/2 sheet pan
                                                                      one 1/4 sheet pan
                                                                      a 2-quart measuring cup
                                                                      a 6-quart square food storage container with lid
                                                                      2 4-quart square food storage containers with lids
                                                                      an extra-large 3-piece measuring spoon set
                                                                      4 plastic squeeze bottles
                                                                      a stainless steel wine bucket
                                                                      an ice cream scoop
                                                                      2 wooden spoons
                                                                      3 stainless mixing bowls (various sizes)
                                                                      a wire whip (piano whip)

                                                                      I was really tempted to buy that 18" plastic wrap, but I decided to pass it up until I can figure out a convenient place to keep it. And, since I know I'll be going back soon, I can start working on my next shopping list.

                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: CindyJ
                                                                        kaleokahu Feb 9, 2012 08:29 AM

                                                                        Hi, Cindy:

                                                                        Good haul. How did you find the prices? Isn't it great to go someplace where they just *have* stuff without the heavy retail consumer marketing overlay? I find these places a refreshing throwback to a time when folks actually went somewhere to buy something, rather than just wandering aimlessly amidst unrelenting bling.

                                                                        Aloha,
                                                                        Kaleo

                                                                        1. re: kaleokahu
                                                                          m
                                                                          mikie Feb 9, 2012 08:42 AM

                                                                          Hi Kaleo,

                                                                          From your last remark, I take it you are not a fan of "shopping as sport"? Kind of the modern version of tracking prey for food and clothing. Where you wander endlesly through the urban jungle until you come across the one thing you just can't live anylonger without. ;) I have too many other things to do than shop for the sake of shopping, although when I'm out, I do like to take a look around and make sure I'm aware of what's available and I never pass up a good deal.

                                                                          Take care,

                                                                          1. re: kaleokahu
                                                                            CindyJ Feb 9, 2012 08:45 AM

                                                                            I found the prices to be unbelievably low. That entire haul set me back under $125, and I don't think the list above is complete. In fact, I just remembered -- I also bought an instant-read digital thermometer and a refrigerator thermometer.

                                                                            1. re: CindyJ
                                                                              Terrie H. Feb 9, 2012 09:39 AM

                                                                              As I read your list I was thinking, "wonder what that cost her" and that is a great price for all that merchandise. I'm just glad I moved a bit far from the restaurant supply store I used to shop in. :))

                                                                        2. c
                                                                          carbondiamond Feb 9, 2012 10:09 AM

                                                                          I used to be a part owner of a catering company so I still have way too much professional equipment(yes, it is possible;))! The best thing I bought for home use was a smaller, wall mounted knife block. Stainless apron, so my knives stay clean and no one can get hurt, heavy plastic knife block at top that can go into the dishwasher for sanitizing and mounting it on the wall saved my very precious counter space. Fits 8-9 knives with ease.

                                                                          1. Phood Feb 9, 2012 09:35 PM

                                                                            Some small stainless steel bowls for food prep.
                                                                            One to scramble a couple of eggs, one to hold the chopped onion, one floating in boiling water as a double boiler to warm or reheat; useful things those 6" stainless bowls.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: Phood
                                                                              CindyJ Feb 10, 2012 05:37 AM

                                                                              I bought a few of those in various sizes -- just a few dollars each.

                                                                            2. ladooShoppe Feb 23, 2012 11:01 AM

                                                                              There is a great restaurant supply store in Ottawa that is open to the public and we went there to stock up on food storage containers like the ones you see in restaurants and cafeterias. We use them daily and they are still in great shape (including the lids). We put them in the dishwasher too. You can find them in a variety of shapes and sizes. They are a little expensive but they stack beautifully in the fridge or pantry and because they are made of heavier (food grade, obviously) plastic, they never warp in the freezer, microwave or dishwasher. Here is an example of what I am talking about: https://www.calicoindustries.com/inde....

                                                                              1. cannibal Feb 24, 2012 01:28 PM

                                                                                Ah, Cindy, you've taken your first step into a larger world :)
                                                                                I remember the feeling I had the first time I went into a restaurant supply. I still get a little bit of that every time I go in. It has spoiled me into loving the look of purely utilitarian cookware, and the attractive price to go with it.

                                                                                One thing I really love and am not sure how i did without...a 7 quart pot with a regular pan handle on one end and a helper handle on the other. it's raw aluminum, about 2.5mm thick, and only set me back 20 bucks. The versatility surprised me once I started using it regularly.
                                                                                I originally went in to find a lid for a frying pan, and i stumbled across this pan and it happened to also fit the lid i was picking up.

                                                                                Link to a picture of the pot: http://www.webstaurantstore.com/vollr...

                                                                                Season it with your preferred cast iron/carbon steel method and it'll be a top performer in your kitchen.

                                                                                Good find on the ice cream scoops too, i have one of the cold-stone style scoops and I am often asked where I purchased it. They are very often shocked that I only spent $3 for it

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: cannibal
                                                                                  CindyJ Feb 25, 2012 12:31 PM

                                                                                  I'm loving the squirt bottles and went back for more this week -- the 24-ounce size is perfect for cooking oil, and now I have one for each of four different kinds of oil. I also picked up a package of terrycloth bar towels that will be good for many uses. Oh... and a 3.5-quart round plastic container that I line with supermarket produce bags and keep on the countertop for trash generated during prep work -- egg shells, garlic paper, carrot and cucumber peels, wine bottle corks, etc. Remove the bag when it's full and toss it in the trash. I've been trying to avoid the aisles with the pots and pans.

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