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setting up my first professional kitchen

inbariko's picture

hi! i'm setting up the kitchen for a new retreat center that's going to cater for about 25 to 50 people max (vegetarian only). i'd like to purchase a good set of pots but am not at all what's the best set to serve my needs, size-wise and brand. any recommendations out there? thanks!

meg's picture

Hi inbariko,
While I'm no expert on professional kitchens, I do have some advice that may be of help. First off, there are better and worse pots and pans out there--we have All Clad in our home kitchen, and we love them. We inherited them from John's father, and they're incredibly durable, and they distribute heat very evenly. Having said that, from a pragmatic standpoint, cooking isn't so much about the pots and pans. It's about being comfortable with cooking and with the pots and pans you happen to have.
My point is that you can have bottom of the barrel equipment and still turn out great food. Should you go bottom of the barrel? Not unless you have to. If you have a larger budget, get something nicer. You'll want equipment that can stand up to fairly heavy use. How often will the equipment be used? If it's once a week or more, I would opt for something sturdier.
Definitely get a large-capacity stock pot for soups, stews, and stocks. Get a couple (or a few--I find it's hard to have too many) smaller saucepans (about 4-8 quart sized). Buy a few saute pans (http://www.thejoykitchen.com/ingredients-techniques/kitchen-notes-yay-la...é )--these will come in handy. Also invest in a couple good Dutch ovens and cast-iron skillets if you can. They will round out your equipment in a way that nothing else can.
Also be sure to have a selection of strainers (some fine mesh, some coarser), whisks, spatulas, and baking sheets. Buy parchment sheets--worth every penny. Have at least one wooden spoon--they have limited uses but some things require a good wooden spoon. You may even look into some professional restaurant equipment--a convection oven, large-capacity stand mixer, and a professional steamer. Again, I'm not sure what your use will be, but if you'll be doing a lot of cooking on a regular basis, you'll want to prepare accordingly. These things aren't necessary for cooking for 25 to 50 people, but I would consider them almost necessary for cooking for that many people on a regular basis.
I hope this helps somewhat. Good luck!

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