Stop what you are doing right now. You’ve been shopping at the wrong place for your summer party groceries.
You heard it here first.
I had the privilege of working on a food retail company’s advertising photo shoot that I was organizing and food styling for the other week, when the chef turned to me in the middle of our casual conversation and asked, “Do you not shop at CHEF’STORE?”
Hold the phone. Rude. But really, tell me more about this magical unicorn of a place that you speak of so highly.
As it turns out, there are for trade-only establishments where many restaurants and chefs can go to purchase heavily discounted bulk food items and kitchen materials. I had heard of such places, but my involvement with the food world was alas not enough to grant me a key to shop freely.
CHEF’STORE in Charlotte is a self-proclaimed “One-stop restaurant food, equipment and supply store” at wholesale prices, which means it carries everything you might need or want ranging from cleaning supplies and glassware to asparagus and olive oil.
There is no membership required, it’s open seven days a week, and it’s accessible to the public.
The fact is, if I am hosting a big party and can get my hands on a 3 gallon case of vanilla ice cream for $14.47, a big bag of over 20 limes for $2.88 and a pound of my favorite brand of mascarpone (BelGioioso) for $4.05, I consider myself about ten tickets away from winning the lottery.
To put it in perspective, I’ll use a brand to brand comparison to provide the most accuracy. An 8 oz unit of BelGioioso mascarpone at the Myers Park Harris Teeter* is currently $6.99 ($0.87/oz according to their website, compared to CHEF’STORE’s $0.25/oz).
As I flitted from section to section, I noticed that the store layout was well-organized and user-friendly.
The whole store was in the shape of a long rectangle and the left side started with restaurant equipment, followed by cleaning supplies, packaged food, frozen food and finally an entire fully refrigerated right side that ran the full depth of the store.
Not only was every staff member I spoke with friendly, but when I was caught staring at a lamb leg the size of my body for $3.05/lb and shivering with the chilly air in the giant refrigerated section, an attendant even offered the heavy utility jackets for use while I shopped.
I cannot thank the chef who tipped me off enough, since my pantry essentials (e.g. olive oil, salt, etc.) will never run out with this new golden Charlotte resource at my fingertips.
Have you ever been to CHEF’STORE? Do you have a different favorite steal-of-a-grocery-store? Tell me about it, tweet me about it, write me about it! Always looking for a fresh perspective. Email, Twitter, Instagram.