Know your restaurant suppliers
No one needs to recreate a restaurant experience at home (trying to reproduce fine dining dinner parties was a pretentious custom that thankfully died in the 80s) but the props needed to stage a restaurant experience are applicable when it comes to equipping a domestic kitchen.
I mean crockery, glassware, cutlery, pots and pans and kitchen equipment. After years in the hospitality industry, domestic equipment seems puny in comparison and often strangely un-ergonomic (whereas we have had the same white commercial dinner plates for 15 years of high use and they remain as pristine as when I bought them).
I rarely set foot in mainstream kitchen shops but go for slightly hi-tech, well-designed, durable restaurant equipment and get what I need from restaurant suppliers (this includes places like Chinese shops that sell crockery).
Good design is about delivering a satisfying experience
Every box that goes into making such an experience has to be ticked. Good design is not just aesthetically pleasing but, in the case of kitchen equipment, simple, functional, durable, good value, flexible in its uses and unpretentious.
Some kitchen design is overcomplicated by creating something different for every function. (Is this done by male architects who don’t shop or cook?) Better to have as simple and flexible a kitchen and equipment as possible.
My fridge is a commercial one and is simply a refrigerated box with shelves I can move around (the freezer is in another part of the kitchen). I can organise the fridge depending on what I am storing in it at the time, not in the way a fridge designer thinks every cook wants it organised. Likewise I keep the crockery, etc, as simple and uniform and therefore as flexible as possible
Accept that food looks great on plain white plates
With white plates, no busy patterns and other colours will detract from the colour of your food, which is also elegantly framed by a white border. We bought plenty of large white restaurant dinner plates, about 25cm in diameter. These can be used for most things and remember a small amount of anything will look better on an oversized plate than anything on something too small.I do have bits of old crockery that do duty as accents to our mostly all-white crockery.
Wide white pasta bowls are also useful and can double as dessert plates. We have white restaurant coffee and tea cups and oval plates for serving in many sizes. Our biggest white platters came from Chinese shops where the quality is excellent and the price reasonable. Obviously these places are also the best places for rice bowls and serving bowls for Asian food as well as commercial packs of chopsticks, porcelain spoons, woks and claypots.
Our glassware is one-size restaurant-quality wine and water glasses; owing to the absence of an heirloom silver canteen, our best cutlery is a two-dozen place set — big, classic, stainless steel — that I once lugged back from the Chef’s Warehouse in Sydney. Fish slices, frying pans, pots, wooden chopping boards etc have all come from restaurant suppliers, and knives and small kitchen tools all come from a professional chef’s shop. The quality of this type of equipment is better and the items far more durable than domestic equivalents.
Our sink is a huge 50cm-deep restaurant one (modern sinks are miniscule and annoying) and we had the kitchen clad in forgiving stainless steel (an upturned wine glass rarely breaks on it and it looks better and better as time goes on).
We have a large domestic electric oven and Gaggenau induction cooktop (I am a relatively recent fanatical convert to induction).
If you are a civilian and serious about cooking it is worth investigating the world of restaurant suppliers. Apart from the sensible prices and durability, there is a certain cool about using this stuff at home.
A few of my favourite venues include Southern Hospitality, Blue Ribbon Agencies and Wah Lee, but check out your nearest restaurant supplier and Asian shops.