This article was updated on February 15, 2019. It was originally published April 29, 2013.
Prevailing wisdom says great dishes begin with great ingredients. And while that's certainly true, kickass cooks and the rare birds who have the Martha Stewart gene for entertaining couldn't do what they do half as well — or at least not half as easily — without the proper tools and equipment. Cool-looking plates and serving pieces don't hurt either.
Here is where we offer 11 great stores and shops — some corporate, some indie — that cater to home cooks, professionals, and people who just like to throw a good party.
Sweet Basil Gourmetware & Cooking School
10749 North Scottsdale Road, #101, Scottsdale
It's easy to kill an hour in this shop and hands-on cooking school, crammed with everything from tongs, whisks, Wüsthof knives, and Le Creuset cookware to fondue sets, soup tureens, panini presses, and paella pans. Coffee beans are also sold here, as are teas, locally made salsas and crackers, fancy vinegar options, and more. Find local ceramicist Lisa Howe's oven-proof, dishwasher-safe stoneware, plus a pit stop for ready-made gift baskets (they'll customize them if you have time), a quirky set of animal print coasters, or a pretty apron. There's everything needed for cool cocktails (including whimsical, hand-painted martini glasses and little umbrellas), and a kiddie section to foster the budding cook. Shop for cookbooks near the back of the store — where they also offer gently used cookbooks.
If you're a bargain hunter, don't overlook these value-priced, corporate stores, the majority of them located in outlet malls around the country and of course the Valley. At the moment, Kitchen Collection can be found in Anthem, Chandler, and Glendale. The store carries cookware, bakeware, small appliances, cutlery, gadgets, dinnerware, and pretty much anything else you can imagine. That includes dish towels, compost keepers and utterly frivolous doodads. Need a child-safe hot dog slicer or an ice cream scoop with a hollow handle to hold candy sprinkles? Of course you do. You'll see name brands like Kitchen-Aid, Cuisinart, Pyrex, and Wear Ever here, but won't pay high prices as they're usually factory overstock, warehouse clearance, special purchase items, and factory-refurbished small appliances.
7700 West Arrowhead Towne Center, Glendale
You don't have to be a serious cook to appreciate this quirky kitchen store (also part gift shop) in Arrowhead Mall. You'll get a kick out of the goofy signs ("I'll have a chocolate mocha-vodka-Valium-latte, please."), the hideous Elvis-headed cookie jar and the Day of the Dead-themed knickknacks. But there's plenty of helpful stuff for people who actually cook — whether novice or pro. The store stocks oyster knives, heart-shaped pancake rings, tiny torches for crème brûlée, copper mugs, and absinthe spoons. Items have been thoughtfully grouped together, so if you're all about tea or pizza or shellfish, you'll find everything you need in one place.
Phoenix Knife House
4837 East Indian School Road
You'll see a steady stream of chefs coming in and out of this neatly kept shop owned by food nerd and knife whisperer Eytan Zias, who's thought more about weight, grip, blades, and tangs than most of us ever will. Zias carries dozens of full lines, imported from small, high-quality knife makers, including an array of Japanese brands unfamiliar to the average home cook. In fact, as knife collections go, PKH is ranked among the top three in the U.S. But don't let that scare you off. Zias loves to share what he knows about knives, and he'll steer you toward something comfortable for your hand and wallet — offering sharpening and repair services to boot. Knife-sharpening classes (priced at $85 per person) sell out well in advance nearly every month, so be sharp and call early.
ABC Cake Decorating Supplies
2853 East Indian School Road
Unless you're pulling a Duncan Hines box off the grocery store shelf, don't even think of baking a cake — especially a spectacular one — without hitting this start-to-finish cake-baking supply shop first. You'll find miles of aisles stocked with pans in every imaginable size and shape (including a Diamondbacks baseball cap). Plus they're pillars for tiered cakes, cupcake stands, glittery cake ribbon, cake toppers, rolling pins, cake filling and frosting, Fluid Flex, Sweetex, and any other sparkly, colorful stuff to make your cake an over-the-top sensation. ABC even sells boxes to transport them in, and offers cake decorating classes for bakers who want to up their game.
Standard Restaurant Supply
2922 East McDowell Road
Sure, chefs and restaurateurs come to this no-frills warehouse for fridges, ice-makers, china caps, and cooking pots (sized to feed a small nation), but nonprofessionals are welcome to browse this cavernous place as well, stocked with loads of kitchen basics (whisks, colanders, mixing bowls), plain dinnerware, and glassware at good prices. On any given day something is on sale, but many things are simply priced right in the first place. Pay $1.95 for a plastic burger basket at a fancy shop or snag it here for 60 cents.
US Foods Chef'Store
3115 South McClintock Drive, Tempe
This is the kind of place locals love. Packed with wholesale food, kitchen equipment, and cooking supplies, US Foods Chef'Store is like a box store for aspiring cooks, recipe hobbyists, and any host or hostess who's ever lived to entertain. This 59,000-square-foot warehouse has fresh produce, meat and dairy, frozen and dry groceries, ethnic food options, and more, all under national and US Foods exclusive brands. They also offer warehouse pricing, special promotions, and bulk buys, plus — our favorite part — big, wide aisles so you can shop, check your list, and daydream about all you're about to cook without causing a shopping cart traffic jam.
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House of Rice Store
3221 North Hayden Road, Scottsdale
Stovetop shabu shabu pan? Check. Rice-washing colander? Check. Nonstick takoyaki pan? Check check. From 100-count packs of bamboo skewers to a super-wide Benriner mandoline to pink panda bear mugs, this place has it all. Around since 1977, House of Rice offers Japanese, Chinese, Dutch, Indonesian, Vietnamese, and Thai groceries and supplies to boot. Not to mention they offer reusable bento boxes that look way cooler than taking your lunch to work in a Fry's bag. Whether for your kitchen or as a gift, you can pick up dishes, rice cookers, cutlery, cookbooks, and chopsticks for reasonable prices.
Sur La Table
Sleek, industrial design elements lend this elegant, thoughtfully merchandised corporate store a serious tone, appealing to accomplished cooks with limitless budgets. Want the best coffee or espresso maker money can buy? Sur La Table probably stocks it — as well as other fancy appliances, premium cookware, tools, bakeware, cutlery (including a handful of top-notch Japanese brands), housewares, dinnerware, barware, glassware, and linens. And food. Did we mention food? Like alder-smoked sea salt from Alaska? It's all here — a cook's little paradise, complemented by cooking classes in a swanky separate room. Not to worry if you don't drive a Mercedes — Sur La Table runs plenty of good sales, too.
The motto at this high-end gourmet shop is "serving serious cooks since 1956." Like its counterpart Sur La Table, Williams-Sonoma offers anything and everything the ambitious cook could ever want. They feature an extensive cutlery section, electrics by brands like Breville and Cuisinart, Le Creuset, All-Clad, and Calphalon cookware (to name a few), bakeware, dinnerware, yadda yadda. If there's one thing this place offers more of than the other two fancy corporate shops, it's probably gourmet food — including fancy sauces, oils and vinegars, and baking mixes (the latter from Thomas Keller, no less).
Crate & Barrel
Crate & Barrel is a furniture and home decor store with a serious kitchen component offering plenty of pricey, gourmet eye-candy. But the great thing about this gorgeously merchandised store is its goal of capturing the attention of young cooks. You know, people who might actually be entertaining beyond chips and dip for the very first time. The place is stocked with gadgets, cookware, cutlery and appliances galore, but C&B creates a mood — offering pretty vignettes of contemporary dinnerware, glassware, and barware to spark the customer's imagination. Find Japanese serving pieces with chopsticks to a folding portable grill for cooking out on your apartment's tiny balcony C&B is surely assuming. And as is true at other high-end corporate stores, not everything is expensive, and plenty of items go on sale.