Shopping for kitchen supplies can be stressful.
Between searching online retailers, branded brick and mortar stores, and an endless string of products to research and compare, just getting to the buying decision is often a massive time-suck.
We’ve all been there.
While e-commerce sites like Amazon have helped change the game by offering unparalleled convenience, settling on the right product for your kitchen has never been more overwhelming. An embarrassment of options and product recommendations is a good thing in theory, but in practice it’s not quite as simple as it seems.
Stores like Bed, Bath, and Beyond and Sur La Table are great places for finding standard products and appliances, and as an added bonus you can usually find sets and pieces that are visually stunning and help compliment the decor of the kitchen. But prices and options can fluctuate wildly, creating an added level of confusion when trying to settle on which product can tick off boxes. And though the staff at these stores can be helpful in explaining various products/models or giving recommendations, sometimes you need a more professional touch.
Enter the restaurant supply store.
Most commonly associated with being the go-to hub for furnishing a restaurant or industrial kitchen, these stores have everything. And we mean everything.
From utensils, cutlery and dinnerware to heavy machinery and even professional grade freezers, it’s simply impossible to enter a restaurant supply store and not find exactly what you’re looking for
Although it might seem an extravagant or unnecessary place to shop for the standard homeowner, keep in mind that these stores are the real authority on everything kitchen. Kitchen supply stores are trusted by professional chef’s and restauranteurs to stock their kitchens for great reason, but still tend to underutilized by the rest of the masses. But it’s time to change course, and these are the reasons why everyone should check them out for kitchen supplies.
We decided to check out the acclaimed Chef Restaurant Supplies on Bowery street in Lower Manhattan to grab a few things and explore their dearth of options. Obviously known as a premier shopping hub, New York City has almost every big brand retailer that you could imagine. But Chef exists away from the glitz and glamour of trendy brands like CB2 or Williams Sonoma, and instead has a a no frills storefront that belies their expansive space. The store is filled to the brim with kitchen products beyond the wildest imagination.
Like many neighborhood restaurant supply stores, Chef has been serving the community for decades.
The first thing we noticed when we entered was the organized clutter. It was sheer madness. This place was jam packed from the entrance with products every which way. Pots and pans of various sizes and material makeup hung from the ceiling. Spoons, spatulas and trays lined the floors and shelf space. It was almost disorienting to see the sheer amount of kitchen products that were on display.
From basic supplies like sifters and colanders, to more niche items like specialized rice cookers, this kitchen supply store had the stock to match need or specification.
One of the most impressive qualities of the store was the amount of various sizing options available for pretty much anything. While that makes sense considering the various and ever changing needs of the clients that Chef supplies, it was extremely helpful to be able to eye out different sized products in real time. One of the most frustrating things about online shopping is trying to guess or to visualize the appropriate sizes needed. Not a problem with restaurant supply stores.
It was refreshing to have sizing options available for cooking trays that exceed the generic sizing models that most brand retailers adhere to.
It was also fun to check out the professional grade equipment that most of us would never need in the kitchen. From real deal coffee and espresso machines to meat slicers, this store offered a fascinating perspective into the ins and outs of the food service industry.
It’s also helpful that the store is fully stocked with kitchen items that you might not realize are even essential or helpful. Like plastic bins for cooking or storing.
Every type of item was also fully stocked, so anyone can rest assured that whatever the need is, a kitchen supply store will have an ample amount. They almost never run out. And in the off chance you don’t see something you need? They have all the contacts, and can order practically anything on demand.
The aesthetic and design appeal characteristics that people crave when designing a kitchen or choosing products isn’t a strong suit of stores like these. Instead, they provide extremely durable and well designed professional grade products of the highest quality. Functionality is their calling card.
Amidst the chaos was a treasure trove of of kitchen must-haves.
Professional grade equipment sat next to items sized more appropriately for home kitchens. The sheer number of high quality sauce pans and pots was unlike anything we had seen before.
Best of all? The prices were extremely reasonable. While some of the top kitchen and cooking brands were prevalently displayed in the the store, the markups were minimal and there were tons of selections for each item. They truly have options to fit any budget or kitchen workload.
We stopped in to browse some pots and pans, in the market for a new cast iron skillet.
Related: Have a cast iron skillet that needs a good cleaning? Learn the best way to clean cast iron.
One of the best aspects of a restaurant supply store like this? The staff is extremely knowledgable and friendly. They’ve been at it for decades, catering to professional and amateur chef’s and kitchen aficionados alike. They’ve literally heard and answered it all. You simply won’t find this level of product knowhow and passion anywhere else.
It’s refreshing to be able to pick out any item at any time, and get a reasonable breakdown of what it is, the utility, and recommendations.
The knives were all magnetized to the wall; it was a great and effective way to peruse their vast selection.
We picked up a few items and left, impressed with the vast and seemingly never-ending product options, amazed with the helpful and knowledgeable staff, and pleased with the affordable prices. It was comforting to see brands that we’ve come to associate with quality, such as Kitchenaid prominently displayed in the store. We also had a ton of fun discovering lesser known brands that industry professionals swear by.
When it comes to a painless and even pleasant shopping experience for the kitchen, you would be remiss to not consider your neighborhood restaurant supply store.