Department store catalogs and glossy magazines are great—unfortunately, their ideas for the ktichen are often out of reach or impractical. How many of us can afford not only granite counters, but granite walls and built in Bosch appliances? And how many times have you seen a display kitchen with nothing real in the cupboards?
Here are five ideas from commercial kitchen catalogs that can make your home kitchen both more attractive, and more practical:
A Pastry Work-Station
A lot of us daydream about adding an island to our kitchen. Some of us even have the space—but not the cash. To acheive the same result on a budget, pare the idea down to its essentials.
An inexpensive and practical alternative to a conventional island is something like this pasty workstation. Having a dedicated surface that’s perfect for kneeding dough, rolling pie crusts, and cutting cookies is a cook’s dream. The key to the idea is to choose a great surface, unvarnished wood or marble are best—and then to keep the surface clear.
Hang pastry tools on a nearby wall mounted rack, or a rail mounted on the edge of the table, then keep the area underneath free from clutter—but feel free to use the space beneath for roll-away storage, like ingredient bins or a wire shelf.
And added bonus: Just like an island, something like this can double as an in-kitchen dining area,
While this commercial version is a bit of a spend, a similar end result can be achieved with a length of butcher-block counter on sturdy legs. In the past, we’ve rigged one up with height-adjustable desk legs, and birch countertop from IKEA (Lagan counter, $70; Vika Byske legs $20ea, total cost: $110).
Rolling Ingredient Bins
Let’s face it, if you bake often, that cool set of retro canisters you have isn’t going to hold enough flour for more than a day or two. Neither are so many of the canisters sold at your local department store a particularly great use of space. These rolling ingredient bins hold a whole sack of flour at a time, and their rectangular shape saves space. Factory fresh from your local kitchen equiment shop, they’ll set you back.
But, if it means that you are buying your ingredients in larger quantities, they may pay for themselve in short order (locally milled and grown organic flour in my city is around half the price when you get it in a 20kg bag). Other ways to pinch a penny: find a used set on Craigslist, or look into a distributor of food-safe pails.
While you’re shopping, look for other storage ideas that home-cooks generally only dream about: rectangular containers with volume markings and tight fitting lids, trays with racks to store them, and jars of every possible size and shape.
Kitchen drawers are a precious resource. If you only have a few, use them for spices, ingredients and containers instead of spatulas, whisks, and ladels—they just roll around and get tangles up anyway.
Instead, put them where you can reach them, on wall-mounted racks. This probably isn’t a new idea to anyone who’s been to IKEA, but it’s a great one, with origins in the commercial kitchen. For bonus points, and a cleaner look keep what’s on there to a minimum, and put things you use often, where you use them as often as possible (i.e. runers and ladels near the stove, whisks and pastry-cutters near your counter).
If you’re looking to do it on a budget, IKEA is actually a good place for the rails (check out Grudtal, or this shelf), and kitchen equipment companies are the place to go to find inexpensive stuff that’s designed with rack-mounting in mind.
I suspect that nearly all of us are sucked in by package deals—you know, those sets at the department store that go on sale for “40% off!’ for half the year. And I’m sure I’m not the only person thats bought and ruined more than one non-stick frying pan. But how many of the pots in the set do you actually want. And how long does that non-stuck coating last (let alone, what’s in it).
Take a page out of the very best commercial kitchens’ book by selecting sturdy carbon-steel pans that wont scratch should you use them with anything but nylson. These ones from de Buyer are my personal favourite. Once seasoned, nothing sticks. The construction is super sturdy. And the heat distribution and temperature response are fantastic.
Silicon Moulds and Sheets
When Subway restaurants expanded to Canada when I was a kid, I wasn’t impressed by the sandwiches. I wanted to know how they cooked on rubber. When I found out that they were mats made of silicon that nothing would stick to, I hunted all over town to try and find some, before finding some Pantec silicon forms at a restaurant supply shop.
I’ve been hooked ever since, and just got rid of the first few matts I bought over a decade ago rather recently.
Today, these matts are absolutely everywhere, and most of the major brands are decent-deMarle’s Silpat mats are well known for quality.
But, you’ll still likely find the biggest variety of sizes and purposes in a professional catalog—including items like the huge range of silicon molds from de Buyer, perfect for madelines and fluted cakes. If you’re looking for a Canadian source, check out Pantec, based out of New Brunswick they’re a huge manufacturer of these products.
Another great idea for the kitchen is a WellnessMats Anti-fatigue mat, which we had a chance to check out.
Note: de Buyer images from 2012 catalog, available at http://www.debuyer.com . other images from Russell Food Equipment catalog, http://www.russellfood.ca
What other commercial kitchen products do you think would be great in your personal kitchen?