The Happiest Place on Earth.
A Restaurant Supply Store!

I told you last week about the love my mother and I have for high end appliances. Well, our obsession doesn’t end there.

We also have an affinity for general kitchen crap. Most mothers and daughters spend time together by going for lunch, or tea. My mother and I? We get drunk then go to the restaurant supply store.

We don’t actually get drunk. I took a bit of poetic license with that one. At the most we get a bit tipsy.

O.K., we don’t actually get tipsy. But that’s only because we’re both wearing ankle monitors.

So, as I was saying, when my mother and I are looking for a good time we head to the restaurant supply store. We’ve been going to Chris’ Store Fixtures in Hamilton for many years now.





Do you want to know how perfectly suited I am to Chris’ Store Fixtures? If you’re a first time customer there, they give you a pizza slicer. Free of charge! They just lay it right there in your hands!

It’s no wonder I refer to it as the happiest place on earth. Tied with Dollarama.

I’m ordering my kitchen counter through their store so on my last trip there I brought my camera to show you the glory of a restaurant supply store in case you’ve never had the pleasure of wandering through one before.

I should make it clear that, as the name would suggest, a restaurant supply store supplies things for restaurants. So they have HUGE baking pans, massive mixers and great big vats for deep frying! But they also have regular sized professional quality baking pans, pots and really fun restauranty stuff you’d have a hard time finding anywhere else.

Like this … my favourite find from my last trip there. It’s a cast iron skillet like the kind they use in a restaurant for serving sizzling fixin’s for fajitas!

Fajita Dish
It’s just aisle after aisle after aisle of everything a cook could ever want. Every sized pan, pot and fry basket you could want.
Like Asian cooking? A few dollars will get you a whisk for cleaning your wok or a steaming basket.

There’s every size, style and shape of rolling pin imaginable, but BEST of all there’s fast food baskets! I’ve been eyeing these baskets for YEARS now. Yet … for some reason … I never buy them. I stand, I stare, I walk away. Something is wrong with me. In my head. Something is wrong in my head.
Pins And Baskets

Ditto for these things. I look at these all the time but have never bought one.  I suspect it’s because even though I love them, I don’t actually need them.   $2.99 for a coffee flask though!
Coffee Flasks
These little cake stand looking things are actually very small.  The perfect size in fact, for a single, chocolatey cupcake.  On the right is a toaster I love.

One of the things you need to keep in mind if you plan on buying anything from this type of store, is voltage.  Many of the appliances, big and small, are meant for restaurants so they have higher voltage requirements than something you’d pick up your local department store.

Such is the case with the toaster I love.
Cupcakes And Toaster

This double burner on the other hand is fine for home use!  So is the commercial paper towel dispenser.
Paper Towel And Burners

Somebody say cast iron?
Cast Iron Pans

Kay, everybody calm down but YES.  That is a hotdog roller.  I didn’t even ask if it could be used in the home, because if it COULD?  Yeah, that’d be trouble.
Hot Dog Roller
Cute little serving dishes.
China Bowls
And now the star of the show (kind of), the Carbon Steel Pan.  Carbon steel is like the perfect cross between a cast iron pan and a non stick teflon pan.

Cast Iron is great because it has really good non stick properties once you’ve seasoned it. But it weighs a ton.

Teflon pans are great because they’re definitely non stick, but they’re expensive and the teflon inevitably wears away, usually spending the rest of its days somewhere in your lower intestine.  Then you have to buy another pan and start all over again.

Once seasoned, a carbon steel pan will last forever and is as non stick as teflon, but with none of the actual suspicious teflon.  PLUS it weights about half as much as cast iron.  It’s really the perfect pan.

Carbon Steel Pan

Diner coffee cups?  Yup.  Got em.


Restaurant Ware

These, are apparently, the best oven mitts in the world.  People come to the store just to get these oven mitts. I can’t remember for the life of me how much they cost, but they were cheap.  And would probably make the coziest mittens in the world.
Oven Mitts

Need I say anything?





Reserved Sign

Ladels And Forms

Syrup Containers

Chefs Whites

Did I mention some of their stuff is very big?  Because it is.  There are very big things in this type of store.

Baking Sheet Huge

I love the restaurant supply store.  How much do I love it?

General Shot

I tried to stow away.
Stewing Pot

And I would have got away with it too, if someone hadn’t called the police, psychiatric services and my mom.

p.s. Chris Store Fixtures technically doesn’t have an online store but as I was leaving I asked them about this and they said they’ll ship anything anywhere and once shipped a stove to Alaska. So … if you see something you want … I’m sure they’ll ship it your way.


  1. Susan Townsend says:

    Thanks Karen! You solved a Christmas present problem for me too. I can’t tell you how many frying pans we have gone through over the years but I’m sure it’s dozens. So I’m off to the store for a carbon steel pan – so happy!

  2. wow what is the size of the stove that that pot fits on????

  3. JebberJay says:

    Oh my … oh my … I’m already fighthing an addiction to the best yarn store in the land and now this? I don’t have time for two addictions.

  4. Elen Grey says:

    Okay. I’m on the other side of TO. So guess who has a trip to Chris’ Store Fixtures in her future? That carbon steel pan hit my Gimme Scale. And the oven mitts. And the ladles. And the diner dishes. Uh-oh. You are evil, Karen. ;-)

  5. Jane says:

    Chris’ is my favourite place for Christmas shopping. I get lots of stocking stuffers there. I did not know about carbon steel pans. My husband gets a new Teflon one every second year. This year I’ll get him a carbon steel one. But then I’ll have to think of a new Christmas gift next year.

  6. marilyn says:

    been there, love it!

  7. Ella says:

    I MUST now find a similar store in my area today!!!!!

  8. mayr says:

    Holy moly! You in that pot? Je suis laaaaughing.

  9. Tigersmom says:

    And I almost forgot, if we are ever forced to become cannibals, it’s good to know that they make pots big enough to fit people.

    Petite people, anyway. ; )

  10. Tigersmom says:

    Are you getting stainless steel restaurant counters for your kitchen?

    Has the marble slab in so many recent photos just been to throw me off the trail?

    Or are you going for the best of both worlds and getting (gasp!) both?!?

    I’m thinking the marble under the window for baking prep with a view and the stainless next to your new stove which I didn’t comment on because I was too busy trying to catch myself up on the Christmas challenge. Those star shaped burners are the bomb, by the way (What? Me? Jealous? Yeah, pretty much.)

    If you are going with stainless, I applaud you on your choice. They are the ultimate in durability and convenience. I, personally, couldn’t go there due to 20 years in the restaurant business and the fear of seeing them daily causing a surge in the frequency of waiter nightmares I still (fortunately, only occasionally), have. Anyone who has ever worked in the restaurant business knows what I mean.

    Now, about restaurant supply stores. I could wax poetic, but I’m pretty sure nobody wants to hear that.
    We have Watson’s here in Dallas and I remember being sent to one to get something for a restaurant where I was working and feeling all dreamy walking the aisles and sort of falling in love. And I’m not that much of a cook. I do the same thing at Williams Sonoma and Crate and Barrel when I look at all the bins they have of teeny tiny things like scoops and tools. I have no use for those itty bitty things and yet I want them all.

  11. pat barford says:

    Your headline made me LOL because I couldn’t agree more! I have that ginormous cookie sheet which is one of my best buys ever. Ongoing happiness for $15.00. Most shoes don’t do that for ya’.

  12. Mandy says:

    I am so going there!! Thank you!!

  13. carolyne says:

    I work in Hamilton. Googling the address now.

  14. Jody says:

    Yup, another reason why James St North in Hamilton is such a great place to stroll, shop, and enjoy a cuppa.

  15. Ev says:

    Oh, if only there was a store like this near me! Hog heaven! My stove has a bigger than usual oven and I have some baking sheets like the one you are holding. Big big pans! Ladles, cake pans! Biscuit cutters! I need to calm down, think of a calm lake…. Thanks for the shopping trip!

  16. michaele anderson says:

    You are making a believer out of me…usually only garden nurseries get my puls rate up but i felt a tingle looking over your pics and commentary. Your enthusiasms tend to be contagious…use your power wisely!

  17. Reg says:

    How come I never knew about this store? I live in a town nearby. I really, really want the carbon steel pan and so will my sister. Christmas present solved, if it’s not too expensive. It may not be a glamorous present, but I KNOW she will love it. Thank you for this road trip.

  18. Kim from 3 peanuts says:

    I would love it too but I would have no self control in three. I am sure I would buy everything and somehow convince myself I needed it. Made me laugh so hard when I saw you in the giant pot.

  19. Stacey says:

    Well this post was too funny for me. My husband is the manager in charge of regional sales at Hendrix Restaurant Supply for locations across Canada. Guess how many things we don’t have in our kitchen at home? It’s sad really.

  20. Leslie Zuroski says:

    I live near Madison, WI and we have a restaurant supply store called ‘Kessenich’s’ (Open to the Public). I tell people all the time it is Madison’s best kept secret. My neighbor graduated from culinary arts and did not even know it existed! What are they teaching at local college?!? So I gave her a gift certificate there for her graduation. Maybe she’ll tell her culinary arts friends.

  21. Su says:

    Carbon Steal pans? I NEVER knew….. sigh… I WANT!! My family has a cast iron sutch oven complete with lid and handle for hanging over the fire that was my grandmas’…. my three daughters fight over it… they are only allowed to have possession of it for a year, then it passes on to the next… yeah kitchen supply stores are like porn shops for some of us…

  22. Shirley says:

    Karen, when I saw that hilarious picture of you in the cooking pot, all I could think of was you wearing that little green hat and your elf ears from a few posts ago. Voila, your 2013 Christmas card. You’re welcome!

  23. Lisa says:

    You forgot to mention the tongs! Really, really great tongs – short tongs, long tongs, in between tongs – all shiny and new, with no side-to-side wiggles or mis-matched gripping ends. And cheap too.
    I have a whole drawer full – each one slips into an empty paper towel roll to keep them shut tight and neat and tidy in the drawer when not in use.

  24. That is one big-ass pot. I mean, I’m not saying you have a big ass, but that pot sure does.

  25. Danica says:

    My parents have owned a small family restaurant for over 20 years in northern Ontario so I basically grew up in restaurant supply stores! They now own a restaurant in Beamsville but I don’t think my mom knows about this store. I will have to let her know about it!

    Also, that baking sheet pan picture made me laugh…those pans are basically all my mom has in her house.

  26. Laura Bee says:

    Hubby & met in a restaurant kitchen. Love all things restaurant supply. I want our next set of dinner plates to match that coffee cup. Waiting for a few more to smash…

  27. Judy Bickford says:

    Is this not the neatest store? We went to see them before we left for the east coast to open our B&B. We bought our little serving goodies from them–cream, milk, syrup, etc. Unfortunately, one of the little tea pots I bought broke in the move and I have to go back when I visit in January (so sad, how glad!) I’m torn between stocking up at their store or visiting all the ‘better’ second hand stores before I come back. I’m only allowed one piece of luggage. Maybe I can wear all the clothes I buy on the plane, and pack my suitcase with treasures from Chris’. We still proudly display our gigantic pepper mill in our kitchen that we bought there years ago. My husband loves asking people if they’d like some pepper on their salad.

  28. This post should have a health warning! and a financial warning too!
    But the pic of you in the pot is fantastic!

  29. Kyle says:

    I love the cookie sheet pans that you can get at restaurant supply stores, they don’t do gymnastics in the oven like the ones you get at Target etc……I actually hear harps playing when I walk in…..

  30. Deb says:

    “…and you would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for those meddling kids…”… Sorry, I couldn’t resist. My 5 year old has been obsessed with Scooby Doo lately…always wanted to visit a restaurant supply store. Great post. Thanks!

  31. Sia says:

    That just may have been the funniest ending to a post.
    Please thank the staff at Chris’ for letting you do that…
    Ha! Still giggling.

  32. Cathy says:

    Yea, I’m gonna need the address so I can arrange to have my ashes scattered there. 16 years in the restaurant business has left it’s mark. I can also rattle the pans as you walk by–BONUS!!!

  33. Barbie says:

    I love the restaurant supply store. I have an account there and could spend the entire week in that place! I totally agree with you….there is just something about a place with all that kitchen stuff! I just drooled reading your post…going from picture to picture and thinking “I gotta get over to my restaurant supply store soon” LOL

  34. Kari says:

    LOL at everything! The thing about the fast food baskets, I understand that situation perfectly haha. I recently heard you can get much better deals at kitchen supply store. So fun! Me and my mom go to a wonderland called Old Time Pottery haha.

  35. Agnes says:

    Every time I drive down King St. I pass Hamilton Store Fixtures and remind myself that I have to actually go in one day. Have you been to that store? I didn’t know about Chris’ on James St. It looks like a lot of fun! Free pizza cutter you say? That’s one Christmas gift I can cross off the list! I’m working on a few over-sized food props for a dance company…looking for huge bowls and trays….maybe they’ll have what I need.

    Have you heard of GT Paper French Company? They’re up on Glover Rd, just off of Rymal. You can pretty much buy any size of pastry box you could ever need…muffin liners, paper and plastic bags, take out containers, catering platters, straws, cups, plates, tables cloths on a giant roll…oh and industrial soap by the gallon.

  36. Kristin says:

    Reminds me of Action Sales, my local restaurant supply store. Love it.

  37. I used to work in a restaurant supply store that doubles as a gourmet kitchen store in Ottawa and I have to say even as a university student who cooked nothing more complicated than instant noodles that place was deadly for my wallet.
    The fun I used to have exploring the aisles while ‘working’. I loved to imagine just what would be made in those giant Hobart mixers, and I always laughed at the massive almost-human-sized wooden spoons. I really should have bought more stuff when I still had an employee discount.

  38. Dee says:

    No kidding – those places really are Disneyland for cooks. I always come home with lots of goodies.

  39. Cynthia Jones says:

    OK…I know why you haven’t got the take away baskets yet…they need to come in white. You definitely need to barter on that statue of the Chef so you can put him at the front door when you have people over for dinner. He can go in the basement at all other times. (aren’t you glad I help you organise?)

    The carbon steel pan looks perfect for pancakes and who doesn’t need that giant stainless steel pot you are sitting in. I have one a bit smaller to dye thrift shop clothes to my favourite colours.

    Did they have bain maries? I always wanted a bain marie and a salad bar with the pullout stainless steel thingies where everything is placed already sliced, diced and grated. Of course, now with no kids at home, nobody wants brown soggy salads.

    In the words of my now deceased Aunt, restaurant supply shops gives me ‘organisms’ and so do hardware stores.

  40. Amy says:

    As a former General Manager of a restaurant, I completely understand this post. One of the most exciting times was when something broke (after you had a complete meltdown on whoever was at fault – because things only break during a rush). The mad dash was on to get to the supply store before they close, I squeal into the parking lot, do my happy dance in the parking lot. Once in the store time would freeze – I LOVE RESTAURANT SUPPLY STORES!!

  41. mia pratt says:

    MY FAVORITE! OHMYGOSH, I want to go to Canada right now and go to that store. You are EVIL, Karen – you and your mom too. Actually, now that I think of it, the best plant trays come from a restaurant supply store where I live; you know, the little tray you slide under each potted plant to catch the water? Well, restaurant supply stores often carry these cool plastic takeout food containers that are either clear or black on the bottom and clear on the top – like you can put a big salad or a lasagna in one of the round ones and the lid is the same size and sits on top – and for one tenth of what you pay for an actual plant tray, you can have one that is practically invisible to slide under your plants. Course where I live it’s 78 degrees in winter so I have a great need for these plant tray things…maybe not so much in Canada NOW but in the spring? I spent $5 and have plant trays for dozens of plants, some black (the bottoms) and some clear (the tops). Which I need. To prevent a flood. And ruined table tops. Ok, bye now…

    • Stephanie says:

      Oh wow, your take-out-platter plant tray tip is EVEN BETTER than the photo of Karen in the giant pot!! W73 degrees at 8:45am here, with a high of 82 predicted, so yes, I will use them year round. My fave restuarant supply store item: little square white ceramic sauce dishes. They are the best cat food bowls ever.

  42. Chris says:

    Oh my, I just heard a choir sing when I opened this post. I should be going to sleep but I am going to look through their website. I want those pans. This will be worth the drive to Hamilton.

  43. Grammy says:

    Yes! There’s a restaurant supply store right down the street from where I used to work, and I love, love, love all the kitchen goodies we never would know existed if we didn’t wander through such a wonderland.

    I hope you finally bought some fast-food baskets. I got some a couple of years ago and I never have to wash dishes from lunchtime any more — my husband grabs a basket, drops a paper napkin in, and fills one with fruit, one of those little wax-covered servings of cheese, one slice of whole-grain bread, and he’s got himself a healthy lunch with no evidence of preparation in the kitchen when he’s done. I’ve even trained him to dispose of the non-edible parts all by himself and put the basket away. Also nothing for him to break. I take one of those out to the garden to harvest cherry tomatoes and small peppers. Win-win. They are great.

    I have lots of things from the restaurant supply store. But I’ve never had them call the police or the local mental hospital on me. Yet. Now that I’ve seen you stow away in that giant stockpot, I know I’m going to be thinking of trying it. I just know it. Thanks a lot.

  44. Edith says:

    You are so darn funny and cute! That’s a heck of a pot or you’re super petite…I’m guessing both.

  45. Stephanie Hobson says:

    I would totally go broke in that store, might even have to take out a second mortgage. And I have two of those cast iron fajita skillets, with the wooden base, given to me by a dear friend! And I did not know about carbon steel pans – thank you very much!

  46. Marti says:

    Oh wow, Karen. This was the BEST POST EVER! (Aside from your recipe posts. Those are ALL the bests posts!) I read through this, holding my breath from one photo to the other. *Sigh.

    I woke up this morning, dreaming of owning my own pizza place. What a mess that would be, right? (The failure rate on new restaurants. The 16 hour days. The total HECK NO, I DO NOT WANT TO OWN A BUSINESS LIKE THAT of it all. So thanks for letting me drool over these pictures.

    And laugh at the one of you trying to stow away. Haha!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Marti! And this place truly is the happiest place on earth. You could wander forever! ~ karen

      • Marti says:

        I have! I love restaurant supply stores. Some day, if we’re ever in the same town, let’s meet for a picnic in a restaurant supply store. We can bring in some sammies and a couple of glasses and they’ll never find us. You can bring your mom and get more than tipsy. I’ll be your designated driver.

  47. Amber says:

    I’m forwarding this post to my mum, who is likely to book a ticket on the next flight, just to get that pot whether you are in it or not. She always wanted a tattoo of a chef’s took with a knife and fork crossed underneath as her version of the pirate’s flag.
    Me, I do take out. And burritos. You people intimidate me.

  48. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Hey..I need that new hot dog roller..Seriously!!

  49. I LOL’ed at the KB in the soup pot!!! Love it! And you have solved an Xmas gift issue with this post!

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