LA Weekly is big on top 10 lists: Top 10 Food TV Shows, Top 10 Kit Kat Flavors You've Never Heard Of, Top 10 Chocolate Shops for Mother's Day (I'm working on this one as we speak), etc. If you can put it in a top 10 list, they want it. So when I write for them I try to create Top 10 lists that would personally interest me, and recently I thought of one I believed would help home cooks big-time in sourcing hard-to-find ingredients: Top 10 List of LA Cooking Supply Stores.
Here's the deal: you just received the latest issue of your favorite food magazine. Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, what have you. As you flip through the glossy pages of recipes and food porn, you spot it: the recipe you're going to make for dinner. But one glance at the ingredient list leaves you stumped. Where in the world do you buy Hungarian paprika? Miniature tart pans? Sanding sugar? I scoured LA's restaurant supply stores and came up with this list. Hopefully it will help you the next time you decide to make goulash. :)
If you're an Alton Brown geek (like we are), you'll find almost every kitchen gadget, utensil and supply you're looking for at Star Restaurant Supply. Forget about designer kitchen brands; these pots/pans, knives and baking trays might not be fancy but are made to last for years. Make sure to plan your visit accordingly (or order online), as Star closes at 5:30pm on weekdays and 4pm on Saturdays. Star Restaurant Supply: 6178 Sepulveda Boulevard, Van Nuys; (818) 782-4460.
Opened in 1989 by Charlie Lao, this eponymous Culver City landmark got its start in a small storefront on Washington Boulevard. Twenty-one years and one massive showroom later, Charlie turned his knowledge of used restaurant equipment into one of LA's top cooking supply stores. Whether you need a placemat to beautify your home presentation or a meat saw (yes, a meat saw) to slice proscuitto, Charlie's got it. Charlie's Fixtures: 2251 Venice Boulevard, Los Angeles; (323) 721-9023.
The "best place for cooks to shop" since 1972, Sur La Table's six LA locations stock authentic tools and serving pieces to help cooks make cuisines from around the world. Their employees know their stuff, whether it's about preparation, presentation, or the tools you need to make a simple or specialized dish. Sur La Table: Farmer's Market 6333 West Third Street Los Angeles; (323) 954-9190.
A gourmet Mecca since 1956, Williams-Sonoma has become the choice for high-end home cooks. Need a free-standing island for your kitchen? Stock your bar with Riedel glasses? Order cave-aged blue cheese from England for a holiday cocktail party? Once you're done stocking your kitchen, move on to your living and bedrooms. Williams-Sonoma: 339 North Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills; (310) 274-9127.
This Fountain Valley wholesaler - located in a 10,000 square foot showroom - sells kitchen equipment to everyone from professional restaurateurs to home chefs. Need chef shoes, barstools, display trays and an industrial sink? Look no further than this one-stop shop. 2000 Plus Restaurant Equipment: 11210 Talbert Avenue, Fountain Valley; (714) 435-4080.
Welcome to Toy Land for home (and professional) chefs. Need a flavor injector? Cappuccino frother? Shun knife? Chef's apron? A nugget ice machine? Chef's Toys seems to have everything, with reasonable prices to match. Just make sure not to blow your entire paycheck on bamboo skewers. Chef's Toys: 18430 Pacific Street, Fountain Valley; (800) 755-8634.
The hardware supply store equivalent for professional and home chefs. This Torrance-based store's slogan is "If we don't have it...you don't need it." Selling a complete line-up of high-end kitchen, cooking and baking brands - All-Clad, Krups, Le Creuset, just to name a few - Cookin' Stuff's staff has been stocking hard-to-find products since 1973. One of our favorites? A wine and cheese picnic tote. Cookin' Stuff: 22217 Palos Verdes Boulevard, Torrance; (310) 371-2220.
Tepper Bar Supply has been stocking the bars of Angelenos for 56 years, selling over 30 brands of china (Rosenthal, Bernadaud), flatware (Mikasa, Sambonet) and glassware. If you're building your bar from scratch, they can help with that, too, with staff members specializing in kitchen and bar design, installation and delivery. Tepper Bar Supply: 2250 Cotner Avenue, West Los Angeles; (310) 473-4380
Simply put, this is a baker's heaven. Take a cake decorating class and once you're done, stock up on fondants and gum paste, novelty baking pans, specialty gels, flavorings, icings, pastry bags, spatulas and more. Don't have time for a class? Check out their selection of cake, cookie, candy and chocolate-making books and DVDs. Gloria's Cake & Candy Supply: 12453 Washington Boulevard, Los Angeles; (310) 391-4557.
Walk into Surfas and you immediately feel like a little kid in a candy store. It's easy to spend hours perusing Surfas' aisles, finding everything from organic sugars (lemon basil, anyone?), truffles, boba tapioca pearls, chutney and an endless selection of professional appliances and cookware. Grab a tomato and fig sandwich at Cafe Surfas or just stick around and join one of Surfas' cooking classes, offered every week for around $65. Surfas Restaurant Supply and Gourmet Food: 8777 West Washington Boullevard, Culver City; (310) 559-4770.