Going to the Source

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It turns out there's a mini district of professional kitchen supply purveyors in Mid-City. I've recently visited Loubat Equipment Co. and Caire Hotel and Restaurant Supply, two large, warehouse-style stores located a few blocks from each other and each offering everything from pro-grade stoves to cutlery.

Loubat held a holiday open house this week, and on my visit I started thinking how helpful a place like this can be for the home cook or someone shopping for them. Sure, it's not everyone who needs a stack of plastic cafeteria trays, steam table pans or vinegar dispensers by the dozen. But if someone gave me a 32-gallon stockpot, I would certainly find an excuse to use it. As it happens, I left with

an eight-inch chef's knife with a nice grip and a colander. These places don't have the sleek design or packaging of a Williams Sonoma, but their products just exude pro-grade durability. These are pans you want to get dirty.

Loubat and Carie do almost all their business with restaurants, hotels and other customers with professional or institutional kitchens (and their business hours reflect that) but they are readily accessible to the walk-in consumer who has the time to pay a visit.

- Ian McNulty

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