Let’s face it, the internet is a two edged sword for the home cook. While more stuff than ever before is widely available, this also means that poor or questionable quality, all the way down to outright frauds, are also out there in spades, along with a warehouse of shit you don’t need. Fortunately whether you’re after kitchen gear or ingredients, there are plenty of high quality, reputable suppliers with, as the French are want to say, correct pricing. That said, yes, you can find 95%+ of what you’re after on Amazon, but honestly? We’ve already given Jeff Bezos more than enough of your money. When you buy directly from the folks who make and distribute stuff, you’re doing far more to support small companies, and they, like we, need all the help they can get.
Another thing has changed drastically in the last few years, and that’s the wide availability of fresh local ingredients. If you haven’t checked to see if you have local resources, you must do so. Butchers, mills, cheese makers, dairies, herb and spice shops, makers and sellers of good cooking oils, and many other purveyor are out there. Not only is the quality generally far above and fresher than anything you can get elsewhere, you’re supporting local businesses, which is always good. This certainly includes Community Supported Agriculture farms, (CSAs), which continue to reach farther and wider than they did even a few years ago. Farmers markets, and local specialty stores supplying Mexican and South American, Asian, European, and African ingredients are more common too, so go forth and check them out.
Cooking & Kitchen Equipment
Element Fe Forge. let’s face it, the most important tool in the kitchen other than you is a good knife or three. Andy Gladish is my Knifemaker, as in, all my knives were made specifically for me, by him – ‘nuff said. You can buy good production knives, but the difference between those and a great hand forged blade is like comparing a Prius to a BMW – Yes, they’re both good, but come on – really? Andy frequents farmers markets and such between Seattle and Bellingham, Washington, so if you’re around there, check out his schedule. Otherwise, get in touch with him through his website. He builds plenty of patterns, so he’ll have what you need. What he builds will last your lifetime, and feel and perform better than anything you’ve ever held. His blades are an extension of your hand, which is what a great knife must be. http://elementfe.com
The WebstaurantStore Store. It can still be quite hard to find good cookware and small wares at reasonable prices locally. My favorite online outfit is the WebstaurantStore. These guys have been around four about 15 years, so they’re proven. They carry a huge inventory of damn near anything you can think of, from crazy professional to absolutely home cook, and everything in between. The prices are as good or better than anywhere, and shipping is very reasonable, (and remember, there’s really no such thing as ‘free shipping.’ Better yet, buy something from them and then write a review, and they’ll credit you $2. Add a picture or two and they’ll credit you $4. Make it a video, and they’ll make it $10 – Why do reviews for free when you can get store credit for it? https://www.webstaurantstore.com
The Wok Shop. Tane and her crew are located in San Francisco, and if you dig such things and are nearby, go. If you want a great wok with paying an arm and a leg, or dang ear anything else in the Asian Kitchenware arena, visit their website or give them a call. You won’t be sorry. https://www.wokshop.com
Midwest Supply. Cheesemaking, Wine, Beer, Kombucha, Fermenting, etc. Midwest Supply has it all. Great folks, great range of prices, too,notch quality, and a wealth of how to makes this a go to for such things. https://www.midwestsupplies.com
Herbs, Spices, Staples, and Specialty Stuff. If you’re not growing your own, Or getting it locally, then good quality matters a great deal in what you buy. These outfits are all absolutely reputable and provide great products and service.
World Spice. This Seattle based store is just beneath the Pike Street Market. You can get almost anything you can think of, and quite a bit you haven’t yet, right here. Better yet, you’ll get top quality stuff, fast and reasonable shipping, and the option of buying a little to a lot, which is important with herbs and spices. Finally, you’ll have the option to chose anything that can be had ground or whole the way you like it – Also important for maintaining freshness over time. Great chile selection, too. This is my go to supplier. https://www.worldspice.com
Penzeys. Another fine herb and spice purveyor, with a lot of local stores. Great folks, and a company with serious heart and soul. Lots of proprietary blends here, if you prefer to let somebody else whip up the magic for you. https://www.penzeys.com
Pendery’s. Based in Cowtown, (AKA Fort Worth, Texas), these folks do every kind of herb and spice you can imagine, but they specialize in great chiles. http://www.penderys.com
Butcher and Packer. My go to for the bulk stuff we use a lot of, like granulated garlic and onion, bulk peppercorns, mustard seeds, and the like. They also have dang near everything you can think of for making sausage, brining, and a wealth of small wares. The quality is top notch, and the prices cannot be beat. https://www.butcher-packer.com
Mala Market. If you want top shelf Szechuan and Yunnan regional ingredients at great prices, from great people, this is your place. Taylor and crew will treat you right. The only place I know where you can get Szechuan pepper that will give you the proper trademark numbing tingle. https://themalamarket.com
Rancho Gordo. There are beans, and then there are Rancho Gordo beans. Steve and his crew source and grow amazing heirloom beans, and offer other goodies like Mexican chocolate, chiles, hot sauces, grains, seeds, herbs and spices. If you’ve never had RG beans, you’re in for a shock and a treat – Once you’ve taste them, it’s awfully hard to go back to anything else – Yes, they’re that good. https://themalamarket.com
Bob’s Red Mill. If you can’t get great flour, meal, grains and cereals locally, then get them from Bob’s. They’re great folks, and their stuff is top notch. There’s a wealth of stuff here for the gluten intolerant as well. https://www.bobsredmill.com
Montana Flour & Grain. Speaking of flour, when I don’t grind my own, this is where I go, and when I am grinding my own, this is where I get my grains. Another great small business doing it right. Their flours are really good stuff, as are the whole grains ready for grinding. They sell a grain and flours called Kamut khorasan wheat, an ancient variety that’s pretty amazing stuff – Notably richer and butterier than regular wheats, you need to try this stuff. http://www.montanaflour.com
The Hatch Chile Store. If you can’t get fresh Hatch chiles where you live, get them from the source. Green and red fresh and dried chiles, ristras, salsas, and fantastic chile powders await. https://www.hatch-green-chile.com
Sweet Maria’s. All things coffee, especially for the home roaster. Wide variety of top notch, fair trade green beans, roasting and brewing equipment, and great tutorials. https://www.sweetmarias.com
Field & Forest. Interesting in growing your own mushrooms? This is the place. From small scale to holy smokes, they’ve got it covered, with most of the varieties you’d like to try. https://www.fieldforest.net