South Florida home cooks shop where the pro chefs do

Restaurant-supply stores attract in-the-know home cooks hunting for quality kitchen equipment at low prices.

Bargain-hunting home cooks who shop at restaurant-supply stores know not to expect the samples of warm banana bread or neat shelves of cookbooks one may encounter at Williams-Sonoma or Macy’s.

Instead, these warehouse spaces are stocked floor-to-ceiling with commercial-grade restaurant equipment, a cook’s dream of low-priced but durable pots, pans, plates, utensils, gadgets and bulk goods.

“At Williams-Sonoma, they’re cuter,” said Zarina Raja, an owner of Global Restaurant Equipment & Supplies in North Miami.

South Florida restaurant-supply stores like Raja’s serve local restaurants, caterers, country clubs, cruise ships as well as clients in Latin America and the Caribbean. But there’s nothing preventing home cooks from taking advantage of the value offered by places like Global.

“[The equipment] is meant to be used rigorously,” Raja said. “When we cook in the family, we use the fry pans, the industrial pots and the smaller stuff like utensils. It makes things easier.”

It also makes things cheaper.

A set of four steak knives that costs $35 at Miami Restaurant Supplies typically runs about $60 at a department store, according to Diana Dumet, the store’s vice president of marketing. Plain, white plates start at $19 a dozen, less than $2 a plate.

“Customers go crazy for white designs,” she said, noting that shoppers like to buy similar plates and utensils that they see in their favorite restaurants.

Miami Restaurant Supplies, which opened to the public in April, encourages home cooks to stock up on its restaurant-quality equipment.

“We really want to extend that restaurant experience to the house,” Dumet said. “Why not use professional dishware and cookware?”

Well-known brands with fancy packaging may not be readily available at restaurant-supply shops. But that shouldn’t matter so long as the equipment is well-made and properly maintained, said Alex Feher, executive chef at the InterContinental Miami.

“How you handle your pans and knives is how they’ll perform,” Feher said. “A knife needs to be treated with respect.”


Here’s what you can expect various home-kitchen items to cost at a restaurant-supply store versus a department store or other traditional retailer.

Pots and pans

Traditional retail: $100-$300

Restaurant-supply store: $20-$50

Whisks, spatulas and other utensils

Retail: $5-$50

Supply store: $3-$10

Pastry brushes, bags, etc.

Retail: $10-$40

Supply store: Less than $10

Measuring cups and spoons

Retail: $10-$50

Supply store: Less than $10

Baking sheets, pans, pizza stones

Retail: $15-$150

Supply store: $4-$10

for Miami Herald