To most of us gourmands, kitchen gadgets are a never ending fascination. For cooking professionals it’s a preoccupation and fundamental to the logistics of a working kitchen.
Like everything related to chefs, we all want to know where the pros go to source their equipment, not only out of functionality and arming ourselves with the very best kit, but also price. Invariably there is a kitchen supply wholesaler that sells direct to the public where one can save a considerable amount of money, compared to conventional large, magnetic retailers in shopping malls or small so-called specialist shops.
I remember when we lived in Hong Kong there was a kitchen supply place called the Pan Handler, in the Princess Building http://www.thepanhandler.biz/contactus.php, and whilst it’s a fascinating shop and has lots of goodies, man you sure do pay for their shop rent in the prices. Incidentally, a purchased a pot from them, that has a heavier handle than the base and topples when you place it on the stove – made in China!
There are places like this all over the world, in every city, catering to what I call the gift market, and they pretty much prey on the spur of the moment buyer or those who have too much time on their hands, and specialize in things that look great, but are often dysfunctional, or just look beautiful.
Maybe that’s a bit harsh, as some of these shops have really innovative utensils and those ever-tempting copper pots and shiny red Kitchenaid mixers and toasters that are pretty impressive, if you can afford them.
So, how do we get to know where the chefs and restaurateurs shop?
You could of course just ask them, and that’s exactly what I want to do. Ask every chef, restaurateur, caterer et all on this planet; where do they source their equipment, from the imperative set of knives to pots that are large enough to swim in.
Assuming that if you are reading this, you are the sort of amateur cook that is more interested in equipment that works rather than looks, and that you’re also looking for utensils and appliances and working equipment of the more industrial type, to a degree.
You will be surprised how commercial kitchen equipment adapts itself to a home kitchen, if you throw away the glossy magazines and don’t worry so much about the bling factor.
So, I’ll start it off, as I know where the Singaporean hospitality industry shops. The company is called Sia Huat www.siahuat.com who have been trading for 50 years and have a retail outlet at No. 7, 9 & 11 Temple Street, (Chinatown)Singapore. Tel: (65) 6223 1732. All the pros shop here, getting a wholesale discount which varies depending on how good you are at haggling and your purchasing record.
I sometimes go with the Executive Chef of all the Aman Resorts around the world, who is based here. He has an uncanny resemblance to Jake “The Muss” out of the New Zealand film, ‘Once Were Warriors’ and a very menacing look that says don’t fuck with me. The discount is invariably good when I shop with him.
Sia Haut is an amazing shop, always chaotic, busier than Grand Central Station. Moreover, an Aladdin’s Cave of kitchen wizardry, boasting some 30,000 items from chocolate molds to woks the size of an aircraft engine. There is every sized utensil you could think, paddles the size of oars to miniature whisks for kids; and pots, pans, fryers, griddles, steamers, grillers, grinders, colanders, etc, etc, etc. If they don’t have it at Sia Huat, then it does not exist on this island.
And that’s a point in itself, a lot of chefs/pros these days shop online as often the specialized equipment they are searching (sometimes yearning) for is simply not available in their country. This is of course the way things are heading and even Sia Huat has its online catalogue and will send it to anywhere in Asia, or on this planet probably.
There are also chefs who have online businesses now promoting cooking equipment and kitchen appliances and the latest in gadgets. Some of them are very good at it, a few I know, like Ruth Pretty in New Zealand, www.ruthpretty.co.nz and Ian Hewitson in Australia www.hueyscookingclub.com are the genuine thing and do a particularly good job of it.
As it happens, Sia Huat also have their annual wholesale warehouse sale coming up, 15th to 18th September with up to 80% off many items. Well worth going for a wee look.
So, all the chefs and restaurateurs out there, all over the world, we would be delighted to get your recommendations on professional equipment suppliers, no matter where you are, from Wellington to San Francisco; from Shanghai to London, we want to hear from you. Either through our facebook or to firstname.lastname@example.org