I finally made it down to Surfas Chef’s Paradise. “Chef’s Paradise” is a pretty good description and about as close to hobbyist orgasm I’ve had in a while*. It didn’t have the best selection I’ve ever seen, or the lowest prices. It is the best I’ve found in LA and is now on my list of favorite toy stores as the value was there. This gem in Culver City also has an online store which is easy to use, but no where near as much fun as shopping the real deal.
Walking in they have some nice details on the sidewalk. Kitchen tools were pressed into the wet concrete and as time passed, well those marks picked up a nice patina.
To get into the store you need to walk past their restaurant. Smelled wonderful and only made me want to shop more for toys to duplicate those smells at home. I didn’t stop in at SurfasCaf√© so I can’t give you any details on that.
Walking in to the place it is a huge, with a total warehouse feel to it. Surfas is nicely organized and very easy to shop. I am so glad that I only grabbed a small hand basket as if I had taken a cart the damage on the old debit card would have been far worse than what I did do.
On your left when you first arrive there are cook books and their gourmet foods. Not the cutesy little boutique store branded stuff like the cook shops in the mall, but an incredible selection of really hard to find foodstuffs. The jam, jelly and confit aisle had some amazing finds. The Rose’s Lemon Lime marmalade and the Cherry Licorice Spread were among the gems I found.
They had the absolute biggest selection of Minon syrups I have ever seen. Two 6 foot wide 8 foot tall shelves full of dozens of flavors and hundreds of bottles. This stuff is so good as its pure cane sugar syrup not that high fructose corn syrup stuff that wants to coat your throat with slime. Added in a bottle of the Mojito mix and moved on down the line
The frozen section wasn’t your usual bird’s eye in butter stuff. It was all sorts of baking, and unusual dessert type goodies. Real English Sticky Pudding? They got it!
The other goodies were pretty incredible. The salt selection was among the best I have seen anywhere. The pepper and rare spices were pretty good too. No prepackaged pancake stuff to be found but they did have hot dog on a stick mix!
Pot’s and pans were pretty unremarkable in terms of selection. I was hoping to find copper and high carbon steel but they limited what was available nice shiny aluminum. Some have non-stick interiors. To their credit Surfas had the biggest selection of commercial grade aluminum I have even seen. That sort of cookware is just not my preference. Prices were comparable to Smart and Final but had easily 10X the selection. Need a pot to make spag sauce for a couple of platoons…they have it.
Name a chef who doesn’t like his tools and gizmos and I’ll show you a headstone. Their tool wall and associated bins of gadgets and gizmo’s was incredible. The deal of the day, a handheld mini mandolin with cutting guard for $17.95. Close second was the silicone coated whisk at $12.95. Dropped those babies in the basket and continued my rounds.
To get to the baking aisle I had to go through the great chocolate bin wall. Amazing selection of Valrhona chocolate hunks ranging from 100% cocoa unsweetened to 40% cocoa milk Chocolate with a dozen variations in between. Then there were dozens of chips, drops and ¬Ω oz chunks from a variety of other makers, some I have never heard of but am game to try. Added in a 1 lb block of unsweetened as the urge to make real brownies from scratch hit home walking down that aisle. Count on this, I’ll be back in December when its time to start making all my fudge. Mmmm…sea salt fudge coming soon.
The baking aisle was nearly more than my sense of smell could handle. Sugars in huge quantities in every color you could possible want. (Well no dragees but those little silver beauties were banned courtesy of some over zealous plaintiff attorney out to spoil our fun, but that’s another thread for another time). They even had pre-made roses and other butter cream delights for the sculpturally challenged bakers like me.
The baker’s tools and sheets left me in awe. Every shape size of pan, sheet or bunt one could reasonably (and in a couple of instances, unreasonably) want lined those shelves. I picked up the perforated bottom variety for those crispy crust pizzas. Shame on them…they were out of the ¬æ a sheet pan that I was specifically was looking for. Oh well, that’s what the internet and online stores are for.
After that the store became a blur. Mostly because I got busted taking pictures with the trusty Che-ez. As such my memory jogging quick snaps are gone. Suffice it to say the restaurant grade stuff was in massive quantities, cheap and a lot of it very high style. (We did discover at check out a small sign saying no picture taking…oops).
The appliance section was unreal. I don’t need a hand blender that could be used to move a barge down the Mississippi, but they had 2 to choose from. The French fry and potato slicers were very heavy duty industrial versions that looked more like play-doh visited the torture museum. I found the one I want should I ever have the urge to make fries from scratch.
The juicers came in all sizes and manner as well. I found the perfect mechanical one with a nice heft that would crank out hundreds of lemons quickly for those limoncello making days. Add that to my Christmas wish list at 118.95.
Chef jackets, aprons and pants in a variety of colors and sizes were there. I’m not ready to make that jump into cooking geekdom, close but not yet. Try as she may my pal Ruth was a long and she couldn’t get me to grab up the black and white hounds tooth chef pants that were on sale. It’s one of those things that would have made me like a rolled a wino (or old golfer) on the way into the kitchen. Won’t happen, but they were entertaining.
After that section it all began to blur. Knives, storage containers, ovens….ad infinitum. I was in kitchen nirvana and suffering from sensory overload. I need to go back another day when I am prepared with a list of specifics and a clear mind to soak it all in.
Surfas Chef’s Paradise
8824 National Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232
Surfas is at the corner of Washington and National Boulevards in Culver City. FREE parking lot entrance is from Washington Boulevard.
*The distinction of Chef’s Mecca goes to E.Dehillerin which has some 117 years more experience, so over packed but with the best selection of affordable cookware I have ever seen anywhere. The savings even with the stupid vat were more than 50% than if I had bought the stuff at the mall cooking store whose initials are WS. It however is one of those you need to already be in the neighborhood for so Surfas is my local choice.