Kitchen Smallwares

Posted On Nov 20 2014 by

Kitchen-SmallwaresKitchen smallwares are not known under than name universally by all foodservice operators or even distributors. Some call them “kitchen tools,” “implements,” or “utensils,” although for many cooks, utensils mean just pots and pans.
Whatever they are called, kitchen smallwares are the tools that the kitchen crew use to prepare food, from the can opener to the carving knife and serving spoon. Smallwares include a broad range of totally unrelated items, except that each is involved in the preparation of food in some manner.

Some are maintenance tools, such as griddle scrapers or oven brushes. Others are used only in certain types of operations, such as oyster knives and shrimp deveiners. Some are throught of as bakers’ tools: pastry tubes and bags, lard paddles or dough cutters.

Large Potential Market

Some of the first of man’s tools were for the kitchen. In middens (refuse mounds) at ancient human campsites throughout the wolrd are found crude chipped stones which were used for cutting food.

Today, more than 300 different specialized implements for use in foodservice kitchens have been cataloged over 100 different patterns and sizes of knives alone. Learn the Language
Before you can sell kitchen smallwares effectively, you must know what is available. Even more important, you must know what your customers use. The first challenge is overcome by going carefully through your company’s catalog or price list page by page. You’ll be surprised to find how many items your firm carries many of which you may never have really noticed before, in good part because they may have been scattered through your catalog.

No one manufacturer makes every different kitchen tool, although some provide extremely broad lines. There are some suppliers which provide a number of different manufacturers’ lines under one umbrella sort of what might be called “repackagers.” If your company has a catalog, and it most likely will if it is in equipment and supplies to stay, you may find the smallwares scattered around according to their function.
The bakers’ tools may be in a special section, the cooks‘ and chefs’ knives and related items in still another, and the maintenance tools, such as grill brushes and griddle stones, somewhere else. Potholders and oven mitts may be located a long way from salt shakers, and shrimp knives may be at the opposite end of the catalog from the citrus squeezers.

If you operate from product sheets supplied by the manufacturers, you may find duplications in different lines. You may also find that there are different prices for similar items from separate makers. You should be aware of all these things before you start your campaign to sell more kitchen smallwares supplies.

Become familiar with the terminology

Not every tool is called by the same name in each section of the country. Some of the older kitchen personnel, for example, will call an implement one name, while the younger ones and maybe your catalog will call it by a completely different one.

Here are some “for instances:”

  1. Why do some of the oldercooks refer to a large salt shaker as a “dredge?”
    • It’s because “dredge” means to cover food by sprinkling with something, usually salt, flour or sugar.
  2. Why does one chef refer to a large spoon with round holes in it as “pierced,” while another will call it “perforated?”
    • That’s because, in the last century, cooks made their own draining spoons by “piercing” the bowls–usually by driving a nail through it repeatedly, then filing off the burrs.

Today it’s done by machinery in the factory, which calls it “perforating,” and that’s the way many manufacturers list it in their product catalogs.
One chef will refer to a cheese “slicer,” while another will call the same tool with a roller and a cutting wire a cheese “cutter.” Some call the hand operated device to extract juice from citrus fruit halves a “juicer,” and other a “squeezer,” although the action is more like a reaming.

The key is to “learn the language!” Learn to listen and to remember what various kitchen smallwares are called. Then you won’t be at a loss when a customer asks for an ice cream “disher,” instead of what your price list calls a “scoop.”

Who Buys Smallwares?

One of the biggest surprises to the DSR who decides to pick up some of that extra business in kitchen smallwares is to discover just who actually stimulates the buying. In most cases, it’s not the manager, or dietitian, or head chef–the one who places the order for the food and supplies. In most operations, the order for smallwares will still be placed by them, but the request for the implement comes from the kitchen worker who must use it.

Like any other tools, kitchen smallwares wear out. It’s the grill man, responsible for cleaning up the grill at the end of the shift, who puts in the request for a new griddle stone when the old one wears down. The pastry chef is the one who needs a good supply of pastry brushes, and who lets it be known when he or she is running low.

Because the usual purchasing authority doesn’t use the tools, someone else usually has to bring the need for replacement or replenishment to his or her attention. And that means that the question, “Do you need any kitchen tools this trip,” falls on deaf ears when asked of the usual buyer.
That doesn’t mean, of course, that your usual buyer doesn’t order kitchen smallwares. It’s to the buyer that you show your new samples, or your new catalog, and that may result in the operation buying something it has never used before–or a better version of something it’s now using. When you’ve got something new to sell, hit your usual contact.

But for replacement and replenishment, make sure you speak to the kitchen workers who actually use the tools. Selling Smallwares
Get to know the kitchen crew at each one of the locations you call upon. Keep your eyes open. Note worn, broken or inadequate tools. Go over your catalog frequently to remind yourself of what it is you have to sell. Then notice where those things are used in your customers’ kitchens.
It won’t take long before you can spot a worn griddle stone, notice that the scullery man is opening clams with an old paring knife (often by the bloody fingers), or find the warped spatula with nicks in the blade. Or maybe the sandwich person is spreading mayonnaise with a thin bladed regular dinner knife instead of a sandwich spreader.

From working with the worn or inappropriate tools so long, the average worker may not even notice that something is wrong. But bring it to his or her attention, and you may well have a new implement on your order blank before you leave.
Be prepared to discuss the difference in quality between two different types of the same product. In general–although there are exceptions–for most tools, stainless steel is the preferred choice, with aluminum second and plastic last.
Of course, a wooden spoon is the ideal implement for certain jobs. And plastic has the advantage of lightness in many applications. But, in general, metal lasts longer than plastic, is les affected by heat, offers sanitary advantages and stainless steel is longer lasting and tougher than aluminum.

Chrome plated steel may be all right for a home kitchen, but it won’t stand up long on a heavily used tool in a foodservice operation. Wooden, or plastic impregnated wood handles (required in many health department jurisdictions), usually last longer with less deformation or cracking than inexpensive plastics, although some of the newere plastic handles have both a good grip and a high resistance to splitting, chipping or deformation. One clue is whether the particular material is used in its top lines by a manufacturer known for its high quality work.

Make your kitchen smallwares strategy a two-pronged one. First, show samples, or at least your catalog, to the buyer to introduce new smallware items for which you justify a need in your customer’s operation. Second, make sure to identify needs for replacement in the kitchen, both by looking and by asking the individual members of the kitchen crew if they need new tools to work with.

It all boils down to asking for the order! The only difference is that you have to recognize that the buying influence usually lies with someone other than your usual contact. Once you get in the habit of looking around for what’s needed and asking the kitchen crew, there’s a good chance that you’ll start selling more than your share of the high markup kitchen smallwares supplies in your firm.

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Last Updated on: December 4th, 2014 at 11:54 am, by Administrator

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