Welcome to Ask Eater, a column from Eater SF where the site’s editors answer difficult dining questions from readers and friends. Have a question for us? Submit it via this form.
Dear Eater SF,
I desperately need to organize my dishes in my small apartment kitchen. I’m looking for a metro rack in a very specific size. Which kitchen store can I go to without being “industry”?
Kitchen Chaos Manager
Thanks for the timely question! As someone who spent the winter holiday gutting the pantry, I feel the desperation. It’s always satisfying to do some clearing out in the new year. Especially right now, with everyone still locked down at home, it’s an ideal moment to dig into an organization project, and pretend you have even an ounce of control over the world. Or at least the baking cupboard.
To best answer your question, I reached out to Gil Payumo from Senor Sisig, to see if he had any recommendations. According to the chef and Bay Area native, here’s where to find affordable storage solutions for your home kitchen pantry.
Forest Restaurant Supply
“I do most of my shopping here in San Francisco, and there’s a good place called Forest Restaurant Supply in the Bayview … ” says Payumo. “You don’t need to own a business or anything, you can just go in there.” Forest carries all kinds of equipment, from monster stoves and ovens to ramekins and spoons, so they definitely carry metro racks, those sturdy wire racks that would be great for stacking dishes, as well as lidded storage containers, if you’re looking to store dry goods. It’s a cash and carry deal, so you will need to walk in.
The other option is Chefs’ Toys, formerly known as Economy Restaurant Fixtures, which is a national chain with a location in the Design District. They do have a shoppable website, with free shipping on most orders, and a quick search shows a few different sizes of metro racks, as well as storage containers.
Payumo mentions that Restaurant Depot, the big chef warehouse that’s now open to the public, is mostly focused on food, but also has a few storage options. So you might want to start with Forest or Chefs’ Toys, but if you happen to be buying 16 pounds of ribeye, sure, check it out.
For smaller storage containers, Payumo also recommends Daiso, the Japanese chain that the Japantown website affectionately refers to as “the Japanese Dollar Store,” but, you know, way cuter. They’ve got pop-top plastic containers, as well as dish racks, spice racks, drawer organizers, fridge organizers, and those kinds of smaller household items. Plus, then you can get some kitten stickers and a mochi doughnut.
Payumo points out that industrial kitchen storage containers tend to be bigger, in multiples of quarts; they might not be airtight, since chefs go through ingredients constantly; and they might not be pretty. So those are the biggest differences between going to a chef warehouse, versus paying more at the Container Store. Speaking personally, as someone who just dropped a pretty penny on the exact same Oxo Pop containers in which Khloe Kardashian arrays her Lucky Charms, I dared to ask — did I totally waste my money?
“My wife’s the same way,” Payumo says. “I’m more like, ‘Let’s put our flour in a 3-quart Cambro on the kitchen counter, and she says ‘No, I want a pretty jar that looks nice and matches our decor.’” So maybe do what the chef does at home, and try mixing and matching — slide those industrial green lids to the back of the pantry, and let the Mason jars shine on the counter.