If you’re shopping for a serious foodie, you’ve got to start thinking like a chef. Which means you’ll need to head straight over to National Restaurant Supply. Whether you’re looking for the “big gift” for someone special or an assortment of stocking stuffers, this store has it.
National is a supplier to the trades—institutional kitchens, restaurants—places that depend on professional quality at decent prices. Happily for us, the showroom is open to the public and the floor is well stocked. I wander the aisles with general manager Rick Levis who beams with obvious glee at his domain.
Levis takes me to the showroom’s test kitchen where National hosts cooking classes. He welcomes inquiries from instructors. “I’d love the test kitchen to be busy all day long,” he says, “because if it’s busy, somebody’s learning something about cooking; and that’s what the test kitchen’s for.”
We continue around to the knives. (Be still my heart.) There’s nothing like beautifully crafted cutlery to make kitchen prep a joyful endeavor. National carries top-of-the-line Wüsthof cutlery at an appreciable discount and many less-expensive knives that will last a lifetime in a home kitchen.
Levis guides me to his “Great Wall of China,” shelves loaded with every kind of dinnerware and place setting you can imagine. Most of these must be ordered, but he says they’ll still make it in time for the holidays. Festive serving pieces for the party table—red and green bowls and platters, woven serving baskets—are here waiting for the right occasion.
Shelves full of industrial-strength blenders, food processors and mixers are built to last. If you want to dress the part, aprons, tops and comfy drawstring trousers come in all prints and sizes. You can also lose yourself in a corner packed with plastic storage, tongs, stainless steel bowls, cookware, bar supplies, things you’ve never seen before—the list is endless.
I’ll be coming back, at least on the pretense of shopping for gifts. But don’t be surprised if half of them never leave my kitchen.