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Is your favorite home goods store closing? Restaurant supply stores can help

 May 1, 2023 at 3:09 PM PDT

S1: Home goods are getting harder to find in retail stores. It's apparently easier and more profitable for stores to stock up on clothes. Then pots and pans , even outlets known for their cooking and dining supplies like Bed , Bath and Beyond have been closing stores in the aftermath of the pandemic. So some home cooks have turned to the Internet. But there is another alternative , probably right in your neighborhood. In the last few years , restaurant supply stores have reported anywhere from a 20 to 40% increase in business from home cooks. While these kinds of stores have traditionally been geared towards the restaurant industry , many home cooks are finding professional quality equipment there , sometimes at lower prices than the cookware offered in retail home goods stores. If only though these restaurants supply stores didn't look so intimidating. So here now with a guide to getting to know your restaurant supply store is Mark Schmidt. He's the corporate chef for Trust Restaurant Group , which operates a number of restaurants and butcher shops across San Diego. Chef Marcelo.


S1: Thanks for being here. I know you're an avid shopper at restaurant supply stores.

S3: I think the first and foremost piece is quality of product that you would receive at a reference supply store. A lot of things that are made for Bed , Bath and Beyond in , you know , some of those other more higher end like Shirley Taub and Williams and Sonoma , they're really great products , but they're not necessarily the most feasible for longevity and use , right ? I think that there's a good opportunity for consumers to go into restaurant supply store and not only just shop around. And I understand that it could definitely be intimidating. However , the biggest piece for me is that you'll get good customer service and then really great products at a potentially reduced rate. Yeah.


S3: If you go in with no thought and mind on what you want to look for , it will definitely be intimidating , overwhelming , and you'll find a lot of things that might not necessarily be what you're looking for and probably something you have no idea what it even does. However , there is a lot of small fun knickknacks and I like to use spatulas and whisks as a great primary example because it's very easy to buy , you know , an inexpensive wooden handle whisk from any other store. However , you go to a restaurant supply store , you'll pay a few dollars , probably a few dollars cheaper than you would as it said , Bed , Bath and Beyond. And you'll have a really great product that will last most likely forever.

S1: Is there anyone there that could help someone who comes in and is confused about what they're saying ? Absolutely.

S3: The in San Diego specifically chefs toys , San Diego restaurant supplies down in and downtown and they're just really great customer service obviously they geared towards restaurant people and restaurant people are all hospitality driven. So I think that they they kind of breed that as well , where again , if you if you come in with a game plan and say , okay , I need this essential , this essential and this , I'm redoing my kitchen or I'm trying to create some new recipes that might not have these tools , they'll be able to give you good guidance and support on , you know , what size of spatula do you need is do you need a metal whisk ? Do you need a plastic whisk ? You know , and then they'll really gear you towards that. And you don't necessarily have to buy 2 to 3 of those. You know , the restaurants , supply stores in San Diego specifically are everything is broken down to an individual purchase.


S3: You know , when I say small wares , I'm talking spatulas , whisks pallet knives , which is something that's used a lot. And like baking and making cakes and things like that. Turntables , pastry , utensils. You could obviously also get saute pans , nonstick pans , Teflon pans , brazing pans. Those are all great there as well. But I do think that certain brazing pans and things like that from restaurant supply store aren't necessarily the most attractive , which I know a lot of people when they're buying for home decor , it is very much decor as well as it's something that needs to be feasible because it's , you know , a lake or say , Dutch oven that's sitting on top of their their tabletop , you know , when they're not using it. And it's very much a part of the kitchen. So if you're looking to go into that like decor side of it , but also being feasible , the restaurant supply might not necessarily be that thing , but sheet trays , any type of grilling equipment. If you have a grill and you're like , I can't find a really good brush to clean my grill grates because , you know , the local ace or wherever might not necessarily have the right one. Restaurant supply source would. Hundred percent be able to accommodate that.


S3: How often you cook at home , what is your storage like and your fridge and dry storage. It's like if you're to go to a smart and final or a restaurant depot or even Costco for that matter , you know , you're thinking weeks out on how to organize your your meal plan. And a lot of times there creates a little bit of waste from that because you're buying things in such bulk. And if you don't organize it from the beginning before purchase , then you'll typically over prep over , make products and then you won't eat it over a period of time. So then it will go bad. So my thing with buying things in bulk is if you have the right storage , which my wife and I both are avid cooks at home and we swear by Stasher bags , I think they're one of the best , most organized home cook use for storage specifically. And when we buy things , we break it down into small pack sizes because just two of us in our house and then we'll freeze certain things and then we'll keep other things out for us to be able to eat in a day or two.


S3: But they do also have a ton of additional stuff like knives and mixers and bowls and things like that. And then in San Diego , restaurant supply store downtown , it's a massive store. It's really an awesome place to walk into. You'll be greeted by someone right away and they'll say , Can I help you ? And you know , I'm here for a metal bowl. Okay , well , what type of metal bowl would you like ? Are you cooking with it or are you not cooking with it ? Those are questions that you'll generally get when you.

S4: Walk in the door. Do you.

S1: Need to join a club or anything to shop at a restaurant supply store.

S3: You do not know and you actually get a you get a restaurant supply store rate , if you will , just walking off the street. Okay.

S1: Okay. So there's so much marketing out there when it comes to big brand name cookware and expensive new gadgets.

S3: You know , more often than not , your feed , whether it's Instagram or Facebook or whatnot , will if you're if , say , you Google search Lakers say , you know , your feed will start to fill up with all the all these different offshoot brands and whatnot. But if you want a Laker say then you should probably get a Laker , say , or another really great brand that's coming out that their marketing is awesome. It's called Maiden. They're definitely geared towards the home cook , but it's restaurant grade quality pots and pans. We actually use them at all of our restaurants as well , and they're really quite affordable. I also look at affordability versus quality when you're buying pots and pans because they're definitely not cheap. You know , if you want to redo all of your pots and pans for the house , you're talking about $1,000 worth of purchases. And to to do that and to feel that within a year or two , they're starting to they're deteriorated or they're rusting or one of the handles get loose , you know , you just really lose that value aspect of it , right ? So I think that going with brand name specific liquor , say Stove Maiden , is another brand new in the last few years , those those brand names are going to be really important as opposed to off brands. Now , if you're looking for something to go camping and you aren't trying to necessarily take care of it or need to have it for an extended period of time , sure. Buy a $20 saute pan , but it's not something that I would recommend because then you're just going to keep buying $20 saute pans.

S1: You mentioned that some of these items , the brand names are restaurant grade quality. What makes Potter a pan or some sort of kitchen equipment , restaurant grade.

S3: So when you look at a saute pan specifically , a lot of saute pans that you'll find in said Bed Bath and Beyond or Williams and Sonoma and some of these other ones , the handles are typically plastic and or rubber where therefore they're not meant to go inside the oven. They're also not meant to sustain high heat. A lot of those types of pans typically are a little bit more inexpensive and it'll it'll you'll be able to tell from either the logo or sticker or how it's built , whether or not it's a restaurant grade. There's not like a sticker that says this is restaurant grade product , but you'll be able to tell just by picking up the saute pan and feeling the heaviness of it. And the finish is going to be really important as well.

S1: I'm talking about shopping at restaurant supply stores with Mark Schmitt , corporate chef or Trust restaurant Group. And I'm curious , as both a professional chef and a home cook.

S3: Because after a 14 hour a day , last thing I want to do is do a whole bunch of dishes. So my Dutch oven or my cast iron are kind of two of my best friends. We like to do braised chicken thighs with like rice and tomato all inside the one dish. We also like to prep out , you know , certain races or pastas or grains kind of at the beginning of the week and in the middle of the week that I can use for various meals , whether it's lunch on the go and one of the restaurants that I'm at or if it's just I'm eating my car as I'm traveling to a restaurant and then coming home again , having something easily to be able to pick up , whether it's just grilling a piece of protein from one of our butcher shops or cooking a piece of fish in the oven.

S4: You know.

S1: To that point , your job requires you to essentially manage an entire professional kitchens. I'm wondering , is there any crossover in how you set up a professional outfit and how you should set up your own home kitchen ? Absolutely.


S3: Again , it kind of goes a little bit to how you want your kitchen to look. If you walk in my kitchen at my house with my wife and I , we we have you know , all of our spices are outlined in our right there ready readily available for us. We have our cookware on the stovetop just because we're using it so frequently. I think that a couple of the biggest things that , you know , when you're organizing your dry storage and whatnot , a lot of things that people use in restaurants are a little bit more bulk , like using Cambria as an example , which is a brand name specific restaurant grade storage container. They're not really attractive at all and , you know , they're not something that I would ever really want to put on my counter. However , we find other brands like Stasher Bags , for example , that is sleek and does have this nice look to it , but does keep everything really confined and organized.

S1: You know , it seems like everybody became a home cook during the pandemic whether they wanted to or not.

S3: And I think that it's a I think it's a good thing , good and bad , because I'd rather have people go eat at our restaurants. But I do think that the good thing is , is that it makes people a little bit more aware of what they're consuming. And then when they come in and I really do hate to use the term foodie , but they feel that they're more in tune with what they're eating and what they're ordering. And it makes the conversation a little bit more fluid with the server or bartender , whoever they're communicating with in the restaurant as well as it makes them know what their likes and dislikes are. You know , there's a lot of people that during , during pandemic , they're cooking at home more and they're like going again to our local butcher shop and trying a new cut like the bacon chop or trying a new cut that they've never had , such as our Denver steak that is unique to us. And we like to talk about it because , yes , you can sell a filet anywhere , but we want to be able to educate you on different cuts that are equally as delicious and probably not as expensive. And it creates more of a conversational piece. And I think people are more open to that conversation now. post-COVID than before when you try to sell them to something else. Listen , I'm not selling you a car. I'm just trying to give you a different option for a grilling meat , you know , So it's easier for that conversation to be had.

S1: You know , I just want to follow up on what you said.

S3: I just the selfish business owner and myself with always love to have people come and eat at our bar restaurants. Okay.

S1: Okay. Well , I've been speaking with Mark Schmitt. He's the corporate chef for Trust restaurant group. We're talking about the rise of restaurant supply stores and how the home cook can make the most of them. And when we return , we'll talk more about butcher's cuts and different cuts of meat. And we'll talk about zero waste cooking and making the most out of your meals. Stay with us. We'd love to hear your thoughts about shopping at restaurant supply stores. Give us a call at (619) 452-0228 and leave a message or you can email us at midday at Coming up , getting adventurous with unusual cuts of meat.

S3: And then they come back and say , that was incredible. I overcooked it or undercooked it or whatever , but I still had a great time.

S1: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. We've been speaking with Chef Marc Schmitt about the increasing popularity of restaurant supply stores for the home cook. And he's sticking around to share some of his insights on zero waste cooking and making the most out of meals. And Chef Marc , welcome back.

S4: Thank you for having me.


S3: There's there's unfortunately always going to be some form of waste , you know , whether it's something that's inedible because it grows in the ground and there's a skin on the outside of it. However , there is another way that you can look at certain things , but I do think that the zero waste thought process is important for people because you're understanding that there is a farmer that spends his life growing this vegetable and then they're trying to make ends meet and a living off of growing this vegetable that you're now consuming. So it does make people a little bit more aware. And it's a good thing to have for sure.

S1: I want you to talk a little bit more about what you mentioned earlier in the hour , and that is how you and your wife actually save food. And so it can be kept. You can buy in bulk and it doesn't go bad. It's hard to offload , let's say , a £5 bag of Costco brussel sprouts before they go bad. So buying in bulk to save money or save the planet sometimes doesn't make any sense.

S3: If you're I agree with the purchasing in bulk is not necessarily always the best , because if you're just going to buy this , spend the same amount of money on £5 versus £2 , but you're going to throw a pound or two of it away , It's kind of it's a devil's advocate , if you will. So I think that if you are going shopping in your organizing your workweek , you're looking at how many meals you're making for yourself and your family and you have the appropriate bags or storage containers to be able to keep them so that way they don't get freezer burned and they keep the liquid inside of them and allowing you to rapidly build a dish based on how you kind of organize your week. It definitely creates a lot of organization and lists from the beginning of before going into the grocery store. The thing that we like to do personally is I like to make grains specifically because grains always have a really good shelf life. When I say grains , I'm talking rice , brown rice , different pastas , couscous , um , you know , things that are I can just boil with water and keep them in the fridge for up to 5 to 7 days and use them in various applications. Rice is a great one because you can take a steamed jasmine rice and you can add soy sauce to it and throw some chicken thighs on top and there's your lunch. You can take the rice and you can put it into a braise and create a really good element of protein with that. And the piece with Zero Waste is on how do we me personally , most of my lunches are if I didn't need it the night before , I'm putting it in the fridge in a bag and I'm eating it for lunch the next day on the go. That's how I personally like to use that. However , it's also important where if you're cutting something off and you might not necessarily want to go the route of compost , which composting is not for everybody because it creates a smell , you have to have a lot more things involved in it than just holding on to to produce that's potentially going bad. Um , but if you wanted to keep certain produce , you can put them in stocks and then you can freeze the stock and then you can have that to be able to make rice down the road. You can also create dog food , which my wife and I have two dogs and we cook a lot , a lot of meals for them at home. They're obviously certain things that dogs can't eat , but there are a lot of things that dogs can eat that are actually really good for them. And brown rice is one , chicken is another. We take all of the scraps of salmon and any like cartilage , if you will , from chicken thighs or chicken breasts. And that all gets fed to our dogs as well. And they love it. It's like a nice little treat. Um , and then looking at any grinds , you know , if we're , we're buying a whole protein , whether it's a pork belly or a beef chuck that we want to grind into it , we'll take that and we'll grind a £3 piece and separate it up into £1 packages and maybe one packs is going to be for burgers the next day is going to be for Bolognese the following day. We'll have that for meatballs , you know , and we it gives us options and allows us to be able to create on the fly without having to go to the grocery store every day.

S1: I'd like you to talk a little bit more about these storage bags and containers that you use because you've been using terms that are unfamiliar to me.


S3: Stasher bag. Yeah. They became really popular at the beginning of 2020. They were they've been around for a few years before that , but they , they really put some money behind their marketing. It's a refrigerator freezer , microwave and dishwasher bag. It's it's a reusable Ziploc bag. So we don't use any single use bags whatsoever in our , in our house. Um , stasher bags are the way that we organize and hold all of our produce and all of our vegetables as well as proteins.

S4: So it.

S1: Can basically go anywhere. This bag , you don't even have to take the material out of the bag. You can just microwave it in the bag.

S4: That is correct. Yes. Wow.

S1: Wow. All right. Sounds good.

S4: Now we're home and.

S3: They come in all shapes and sizes as well. So that's we you know , that you could buy the individual packs or you can buy they have bulk pack where you can get , you know , up to two gallon size bags. And I think the best thing is , is that they're they're they work great. You put them right in the dishwasher and they're clean and safe and easy to reuse.



S3: I think the the Rice race is definitely in three out of seven meals of our week , um , because it is incredibly inexpensive and it's also just really great flavor if they're made right. And then for me personally , like boneless skinless chicken thighs marinated in teriyaki or any type of sweet chili sauce , also at our butcher shop , um , they're easy to do. You just throw it on the grill with some grilled asparagus and rice. It's an incredible , inexpensive meal that you can feed a family for under $50.

S1: I'm speaking with Mark Schmidt , corporate chef for Trust Restaurant Group. And we're talking about restaurant supply stores and zero waste. I know restaurants are , of course , one component of trust restaurant group. But when we're talking about zero waste cooking , it's impossible not to mention the role butcher shops play in that conversation.

S3: Um , first and foremost , you don't see him around very often , and that's definitely on our mission statement , our restaurant group , to make butcher shops feel more comfortable and approachable to the average consumer. Um , in regards to the fullness of a butcher shop. And what we have to offer is really important on the forefront for us because we want people to feel comfortable going in and asking all sorts of questions and not maybe knowing what they want or have any idea how to get it , but they have a recipe that they're great grandmother used to make for them years and years ago , and they can come in and say , I'm making beef bourguignon. I have no idea what I need to do. And it's our responsibility and our mission statement to be able to help make it easier for you to guide you through on a cooking technique that you've probably never done before , using a different cut of meat that you might not have used before , and really giving you that full experience now.

S1: The concept of nose to tail cooking is something that's risen in popularity over the past several years. And just to explain that this is the idea of eating not just the well-known cuts like , say , a pork chop or a strip steak , but venturing out into some stranger choices like pig trotters or liver. And I got to tell you , Mark , you don't have to be a vegetarian to get the shivers about eating some of those internal organs.

S3: And if you have it once , if you eat liver once the wrong way , you probably won't ever eat it again. However , it's really easy to eat and it's really actually great for you as well. Um , so I think the big piece for us is to simplify the methods on how you would produce it at home so that way you can have a good experience. We do carry a lot of those off pieces that you probably would never order , but we also have things that are similar with a twist , and I'll use our bacon chop as a prime example. Everyone's had a pork chop , everyone's had a bone in pork chop. At some point. We , however , have this , this , this cut called the bacon chop. It's a little over a pound. It's a long bone like you would think , a beef tomahawk. And it still has the belly intact to it. So you're getting technically the belly and the loin. You don't see those anywhere. It's not something that's familiar to a lot of people. It's definitely never seen in the Lazy Acres , fawns or sprouts. Um , and it's just enough interest for the home cook to , to try that. And then they come back and say , that was incredible. I overcooked it or undercooked it or whatever , but I still had a great time. What's next ? You know , it kind of opens the door for us to be able to get their trust because we've talked to them about how to cook it and how we would suggest seasoning it and making sure that you rest the meat before it goes into. Out of your cutting board or into the plate and it makes them feel comfortable that they're willing to then try something like Beef Shank , for example. That's this massive 3 to £4 piece that no one knows wants to cook it because they either don't have the right equipment to do so or they're just intimidated by it itself. But we're working them towards that direction.

S4: And the nose.

S1: To tail movement is not just something to get people interested in eating other kinds of meats. It's actually an environmental concern to actually use every single piece of the animal so that nothing goes to waste.

S3: I think the biggest piece for a lot of people to understand , and you mentioned it in one of the first sentences in the second segment was that , you know , everyone eats New York strips and pork chops , right ? Every animal has two muscles , two of the same muscle on it. So if every consumer is ordering filets Ribeyes and New York strips , where do they tri tips go ? Where is the top sirloin ? Where's the where's the chuck ? Where's the shoulder ? Where's the belly ? Where's the flap ? Who's ordering that ? Where is it going. Right. Is it going in the trash ? Is it going into someone as a donation because it's not being moved. But in order to get those primal cuts , we have to be able to source and find ways to move the other items.

S1: And as people find more lesser known cuts and they become familiar with them , unfortunately , in some cases , this better awareness hits people with sticker shock. I think of flank steak , for example , that's been considered a butcher's cut. Now it commands a premium price.

S3: So they're they look at the market and I'll use wintertime for a prime example. Ribeyes and filets skyrocket November , December , January. And then they drop back down the beginning of February , March , April. And the reason why is because those are the holiday times and that's when everyone wants big prime ribs and they want roasted chateaubriand or a whole roasted tenderloin for their family. So they're literally playing the market. And then you look at like a flank steak or a skirt steak and things that , like you said , used to be some of the cheapest cuts that are still some of my favorite personally skirt steaks. Definitely one of my all time favorite cuts in the cow. The butchers are now seeing that it's a moving commodity and that they're they're able to sell it to people at a higher cost. So they're playing the market and they're being able to get it , you know , get the dollar because a lot of people are now excited to want to try it. They want to try it. They don't want to order a filet ever again because they had a flank steak that was just incredible. It's like becoming the unknown. And now that it's known , it worked against us on the financial standpoint. Okay.

S4: Okay.

S1: Well , in the spirit of what we've been discussing , we're coming up on Cinco de Mayo.

S3: Right. And I think that there's there's a lot of good different various applications to go outside of tacos and just necessarily , you know , braise carnitas , if you will , and having a spread. The Cinco de Mayo is , you know , there the Latin community definitely helped create the flat meat as a popularity item , you know , because a lot of skirt steak flank steak. But that's those cuts are all in Hispanic cuisine a lot. So , you know what I would suggest and what I like to do is I'm a grill guy. So I was just getting 5 or 6 different SKUs of meat and a couple of different sausages and literally just grilling a bunch of vegetables , putting all the sausages and the meats on on a board cut and just grazing. That's the way that I like to host. That's the way that I like to eat personally. Um , obviously having pickles and sauces and whatnot , chips and fresh tortilla chips from Pancho Villa , those are all definitely things that I would have on my table.

S1: Sounds delicious. I want to thank you , Mark. You spent a lot of time with us. Mark Schmitt is corporate chef for Trust Restaurant Group. Thank you so much for all your advice about shopping and eating.

S3: My pleasure. Thank you for your time.

Bed Bath & Beyond
Paul Sakuma
File photo of a Bed Bath & Beyond sign in Mountain View, Calif., May 9, 2012.

It is getting harder to find home goods in retail stores. It is easier and more profitable for stores to stock clothes than pots and pans. Major home-goods retailer Bed Bath & Beyond announced it is filing for bankruptcy and will close its stores.

However, in the last few years, restaurant supply stores have emerged to fill the void and reported anywhere from a 20%-40% increase in business in enterprising home cooks.


Mark Schmitt, corporate chef for Trust Restaurant Group