I love restaurant supply stores—I could easily spend hours just meandering through the aisles looking for things that I don’t really need, but want. The cooking equipment that is sold at restaurant supply stores is all around better. Since the items are meant for use in restaurants you can expect them to be sturdier, easier and more efficient to use, and better designed for wear and tear. Unlike the tools you might find in fancy kitchenware shops that are made with design in mind first, commercial goods are no frills—they focus on pure utility, which means they generally work better and are a lot cheaper.
If you're visiting a restaurant supply store for the first time, it can be a little overwhelming. What are the best things to buy? Here, I narrowed down my top eight finds from any restaurant supply store around the country—they're a good start for new and seasoned cooks alike who are looking to up their kitchen game.
1. A Thick Red-Handled Heatproof Rubber Spatula
I know it sounds very specific—who cares about a red handle? But I am telling you, it is the only rubber spatula you need and will ever want after trying it out. The handle is thick and sturdy (nothing flimsy here!), and I use it to make everything from scrambled eggs to cakes. It also comes in all of the sizes so you can choose which one is best suited for you.
2. “Y” Vegetable Peeler
I haven’t seen these peelers outside of a restaurant supply, but they should honestly be the only kind to exist. Trust me: they're far superior to the stick peelers! As the name implies, the peelers are shaped like a Y—imagine a hollow dustpan where the edge is the blade. The handles are usually made of plastic and they come in every color of the rainbow. They are very light, ergonomic, and make peeling anything a breeze.
3. Utility Tongs
These utility tongs are one of my most used tools. They're just a plain pair of stainless steel tongs—no clippy thing to hold it together, no silicon coverage in pastel colors on the ends, nothing! (Because honestly, those things are totally unnecessary.) These tongs are lighter and have the perfect tong resistance, they are also super cheap and come in every size imaginable.
4. Deli Containers and Cambros
Walk into the fridge in any restaurant and you will find everything stored in a million cup, pint, and quart containers stacked on top of each other. Deli containers are those plastic tubs that your olives and artichokes come in at the—you guessed it—deli. It’s what we use in restaurants to keep all our mise en place. They are better than any tupperware because they are space-saving, stackable, dishwasher safe, can handle extremely high heat, and all the lids are interchangeable no matter the size of the containers. Just make sure to get the sturdy ones!
So what happens when you have more than a quart of leftovers? You move to a Cambro. Cambro is the brand name for these sturdy, high-quality food storage containers. I like the square ones because it saves more space and has curved corners for easy pouring with no mess. They range in size from two quarts to 22 quarts, they can withstand temperatures of -40°F to 210°F, they're odor resistant, and are virtually indestructible.
5. Plastic Wrap
Food service plastic wrap works infinitely better than the rolls from your local supermarket. It sticks to itself better and has a nicer elasticity meaning your product stays fresher longer.
6. Sheet Trays
Chefs call them sheet trays—not cookie or baking sheets. The ones I've bought at restaurant supply stores have standardized measurements with an inch-high rim so they're perfect for roasting or baking anything. For home use, get the quarter or half sheet sizes.
7. Mixing Bowls
Stainless steel mixing bowls are another item used in all restaurants. The bowls come in many sizes and stack perfectly within each other. They are also lightweight and durable, won’t trap odors, and are heat-proof—meaning they're perfect for a double boiler.
8. Digital Kitchen Scale
If you are a passionate home baker you should really invest in a digital scale. In professional kitchens, we measure everything by weight for accuracy and consistency. It’s also great for portioning.