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A Best Fixture (aka A Best Kitchen at AKitchen.com) is a restaurant supply store in Akron that is open to the public. Looking for basic, professional quality, inexpensive cookware? Start here, or at your local restaurant supply store.
By professional quality, I don't mean high end. This is the real stuff, tools used in every professional kitchen from school cafeterias to local restaurants. For some reason, you can't buy them at most stores that sell housewares. Or, houseware stores sell them for ridiculous prices. I don't want flimsy, nonstick "cookie pans". I want professional strength aluminum half-sheet pans that won't buckle if I put something heavier than a cookie on them. I want my bowls to be stainless steel and shallow, not plastic, or glass, or "non-skid" with a handle and pouring lip.
Or having some other so-called improvement to the design. Of a bowl.
And, really, when you're flipping hamburgers on the grill, you want the same spatula that a professional would use, not one of those "grill spatulas" that include sawing edges and a bottle opener in the handle.
*Phew...sorry, I didn't know I had that rant coming on. I feel better now.
I love my expensive kitchen ware. I'm not giving up my All-Clad fry pan without a fight, and I'll give up my Shun knives only at gunpoint. But, if I was outfitting a kitchen from scratch, this is where I would do most of my shopping. For an example, see Mark Bittman's No-Frills Kitchen, where he shows how to outfit an entire home kitchen for under $300. How does he do it? He buys it all at a restaurant supply store.
Me? I have a mix. I have a lot of basics from restaurant supply stores, from the All-Clad factory sale, from Cooks Illustrated's "highly recommended" list, from Alton Brown's shows, and from other random cooking magazine and Internet recommendations. But I'm an obsessive cook. For a minimalist kitchen, you could do much worse than an All-Clad fry pan, a chef's knife that feels good in your hand, a good wooden cutting board, an enameled cast-iron dutch oven, and everything else from a kitchen supply store. Then, if you use a particular pot, pan or tool a lot, you can upgrade it to a more expensive version later.
A Best Fixture/A Best Kitchen
424 West Exchange Street
Akron, Ohio 44302
My top five list of favorite items they sell, in no particular order:
1. Half sheet pans: Sheet pans are a jack of all trades in my kitchen. I use them for baking, of course. I also use them for food preparation, to keep ingredients organized and together, and to isolate meat from my preparation surfaces. They are the perfect tray for general kitchen use, and I own about eight of them. Best of all, if you buy them at a restaurant supply store, they're dirt cheap - here they sell them for $7 each.
2. Stainless steel mixing bowls: For food preparation, I like shallow stainless steel bowls. I had a set of nesting glass bowls, but I chipped them all. Stainless just works better for me. And I like the shape of shallow bowls - they make it easier to mix ingredients by tossing them with the bowl itself.
*Kenji Alt just did a post on mixing bowls that matches my experiences, in his usual entertaining style.
3. Mundial Knives: I love my Shuns, and I own a few different Victorinox knives as cheap backups that I can beat up without feeling guilty. I've heard good things about Mundial knives, similar to what people say about Victorinox - they are inexpensive, workhorse knives that are much better than their price would suggest. I picked up a Mundial paring knife at the checkout counter, because I can never have enough cheap paring knives.
*And, if you put your knives in the dishwasher, please do NOT buy anything more expensive than Victorinox or Mundial. High heat and detergents corrode the steel in good cooking knives. Victorinox and Mundial will give you 80% of the quality of the best cooking knives, and if you have to replace them, it won't be a big deal. Just be sure to keep them sharp!
4. Kitchen Gadgets: Spiders and spatulas, muddlers and mashers...oh my. You want it, they have it. They have a potato masher as tall as I am...and I'm 6' 3".
5. The Wall of Pizza Peels: Wood and metal, wide and narrow, short handles and yard-long handles. If you make pizza at home on a regular basis, get yourself a metal peel. You'll thank me later.
Someone asked where I got the 8 quart Rubbermaid food service container I used in my Rotisserie Turkey Leg video - A Best Fixture is where I found them.
Here's the map:
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What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Know of any other restaurant supply stores open to the public in the Akron area? Any mental tricks on spelling restaurant, which I always spell "restaraunt"? Leave them in the comments section below.
Click here for my Ethnic and Gourmet Markets in Akron
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