I often get asked about the industrial standard plates, glasses, cutlery and cooking equipment I use privately that I have built up over the decades. They amassed from frequent manufacturer samples given to try and secure a sale, whole dining rooms being restocked, places closing up or second hand sales of catering kit at knockdown prices. I now use them on a daily basis for cooking at home.
Standard main course household plates in most homes would just about do for a professional starter or dessert course. I do have some pieces of regular style cooking or serving equipment but rarely use them. When I do get to eat in other homes of friends or relatives it sometimes feels like I am a giant with all the downsizing to normal scales. It is just what I am used to and no disrespect to what the rest of the world uses.
One thing I have noticed however is that more and more people would like industrial style equipment in their homes to emulate the fine dining sets they get to use when they eat out in top establishments. Kitchen shops are now selling posh kit that is closer than ever to what is being used in professional food outlets. When I traipse around the high end stores and see what they are offering and charging for pots and pans it can certainly break your bank but they are becoming more affordable.
The public are simply glued to cookery on TV and see all the modern gizmos being used by celebrity chefs and the more enthusiastic and financially endowed customers are happy to pay top dollar for a pan, plate or glass that would not be out of place in a five star hotel. If you are an avid home cook and entertain often enough with lots of space to host guests then why not if it is your passion and you want the best. I would cook a couple of home lunches or dinners every month for family and friends with sometimes up to fourteen seated guests enjoying a fully professional experience.
There is already the high end market for domestic kitchen and tableware but that is the issue, it is also just domestic orientated, it would not work in professional situations as it tends to be too small and fragile to take plate presentation and the rough and tumble of twice daily usage. Can you also imagine how long those little flimsy cheap chopping boards would last in a professional kitchen? I have seen some fancy dinner sets never used since the day they were given as a wedding gift for fear of breakage.
You can certainly spend as much on expensive kitchen ware in retail but it does not have the durability and certainly not the size either. I have plates that are thirteen inches in diameter that need lifting with two hands when dressed so you will need a seriously sized dining table to fit a few of them on never mind getting them into your dishwasher afterwards. Trade cutlery can be twice the size of a domestic set too. So if you are going to go down the road then be prepared for supersizing all over the place.
So what about the best brands? Well you can buy everything online these days if you search far enough. My favourites then are Riedel for glassware, de Buyer for cookware and Bernardaud for crockery, all European, all very expensive and ubiquitous across the global gastronomic landscape. There is a trend now to serve food on all sorts of plates and bowls but I am a bit of a purist and prefer the classic style of just plain white with traditional shapes. You can have the funkiest of receptacle but if the food is not good it will never be improved by what it comes in.
So if you are going to invest in all this glamour for your dinner parties make sure you invest in your cooking skills too and have a few classes so that you can deliver on both the stylish look and the taste of the food, you may as well go the whole hog!