Sunday, May 4, 2008

Restaurant Depot

This past weekend, our friend Fuzail took me to Restaurant Depot, using his family's wholesale license (it's wholesale only).

Wow. I completely geeked out. It was overwhelming to see all of the supplies that were available.

And then the foodstuffs. There was a lot of great stuff and it opened my eyes in more practical terms to how restaurants shop. Seeing the variety to which you can buy things pre-prepped really gives some practical insight into decisions you have to make in the kitchen regarding the balances you have to strike between time. money and quality. For example, you can run the entire gamut from fresh tomatoes down to pre-made pizza sauce.

Also, that thing of giving Top Chef contestants a budget to shop with at a grocrey store? I realized (which I should have known) that it's completely about relating to the home chef - that the viewer can buy the same ingredients the contestants are using. But the prices are just a fraction of supermarket retail. Of course, you have to be cooking in bulk so that they don't go to waste.

There were these HUGE boxes of fresh herbs for, like, $5. There is no way I could ever use enough rosemary to justify the purchase, though I figured I could probably get good value out of the basil.

And, since I'm acting as a personal chef for the Dragons Bachelor Auction meal, I bought myself a chef's jacket. It's a great olive green. One thing I noticed: I wear an XXL in long sleeves, if there's no XL Tall available (i.e. usually). I certainly wanted that in this case as the jacket goes over your regular clothes. But I settled for the XL. Good thing. It's HUGE. Vanity sizing seems to have hit the cook's market, too. It looks really good, though.

I also bought a set of those translucent squirt bottles (for sauces), orchata mix, and a few things I'm forgetting at the moment. I was seriously curious about the China caps (basically large strainers used for soups) and may grab one next time.

Also, I realized that I just need to work in a kitchen for real - my curiousity is really overwhelming. Ideally, a weekend gig prepping some place. I need to make friends with some chefs and find one who would be willing to let me do that a couple of Saturdays a month or something. Of course, if I won the lottery, I'd be signing up for culinary school the next day. But in the meantime...

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