Get a Grip: Buying Foodservice Flatware for Home
Imagine a family restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and typically seats two groups for each meal.... that means the cutlery gets set, used, washed, dried and set again at least 6 times a day. Although your home may not use flatware as frequently as a restaurant (unless you have teenagers, then you might), your table still deserves the same quality foodservice flatware.
Your forks, spoons and knives get up close and personal with you, your family and friends on a daily basis. Choosing them deserves the same care and attention you gave the dinnerware, drinkware, linens and décor choices of your eating spaces – kitchen, dining room, breakfast nook, patio or entertainment room bar.
But with all the choices, how do you know which one? Our flatware buying guide will tell you what you need to know. And how it’s a bit different buying foodservice flatware for home.
Stainless steel flatware is the most popular option for food service operations and is also a great choice for home use. It is affordable, long-lasting and easy to look after. If it can handle a commercial dishwasher and the constant use of a busy restaurant it can certainly stand up to home use.
Stainless steel flatware is available in three levels of quality and durability. Stainless steel flatware quality is based on varying quantities of chromium and nickel content. Chrome offers strength while the addition of nickel contributes rust-resistance and a silver sheen or luster.
You'll notice number codes associated with stainless steel flatware that will indicate the chrome and nickel content.
18/10 flatware is the most durable and often the most expensive style of stainless-steel flatware. The 18/10 indicates 18% chromium and 10% nickel. 18/10 stainless steel flatware offers top notch rust resistance and a lovely sheen.
18/8 flatware is your mid-level option, containing 8% nickel. This level of quality offers good protection from rust and corrosion along with a high luster.
18/0 stainless steel flatware contains no nickel and therefore no protection from corrosion or cleaning. It’s the budget friendly alternative and has the bonus of being magnetic. If you have anyone with a sensitivity to nickel this is the way to go.
13/0 is conventionally used for knife blades because it holds a sharp edge well, but can rust and bend and therefore requires some extra care.
Forged vs Stamped
Stainless steel is turned into cutlery using one of two primary methods. Forging or stamping.
Forged flatware is made from a thick piece of stainless steel that is heated and cut to form each utensil.
Stamped flatware skips the heating step and the flatware is cut like a stamp out of the large pieces of stainless steel.
Forged flatware is stronger while stamped flatware is more flexible.
Good quality flatware will have a bit of heft to it. It should be evenly balanced and comfortable to use. It is recommended to get a feel for weight and balance whenever possible. The dinner fork is the most used piece and sets the tone for the remainder of the pieces.
It is important to note that heavier utensils denote higher quality, so if you’re looking to impress your guests while choosing a more budget friendly material, go for the higher weighted option in that category.
Opt for a flatware pattern (and finish) that suits your style and compliments your other tableware including dinnerware, drinkware, linens and serving accessories.
Classic patterns are traditionally detailed with scrollwork. Choose flatware with curved lines to coordinate tableware with rounded design, or straight lines to match more angular motifs. Classic design is timeless and works for many styles of table settings.
Modern patterns provide clean lines, and contemporary looking flatware that can complement more elaborate and decorative dishware or reinforce a more stringent style. Modern style is purposeful and progressive in design.
Decorative patterns make you think of floral and romantic concepts with organic flourishes.
Rustic patterns are chunky and can use alternative handle materials such as wood or ceramic.
Keep in mind that a more lustrous finish on your flatware is fitting with glossy table tops, where a matte or hammered finish complements more rustic wood surfaces.
Mirror Finish is a polished look, capturing and reflecting light on your table.
Satin Finish is a brushed look. Not quite a matte finish but definitely toned down from a mirror finish. Less likely to show fingerprints and perhaps offers a slightly better grip.
Dual Finish is a combination of satin and mirror. It could be the entire handle is satin finish with a decorative pattern in a mirror finish or visa versa.
Flatware is produced as luncheon-size, place-size and continental, and can be thought of as small, medium and large.
Luncheon-size flatware is the shortest in length and not commonly used today.
Place-size flatware, also called American size, is approximately half an inch larger than luncheon-size and is a popular choice among restauranteurs. Its size balances well with an average table setting.
Continental flatware, also called European size, is generally a half-inch longer than place-size flatware and an inch longer than luncheon size. Continental is proportioned for a formal table setting and is slightly heavier than the other two size options.
What flatware pieces to purchase?
First, it's important to note that foodservice cutlery isn’t sold in flatware sets or by 5 piece place settings. They are sold by the piece and typically in packs of a dozen or multiples of a dozen depending on the manufacturer.
ChefEquipment.com makes it easy to determine how many pieces are in a pack with the pack size right in the name of the product in brackets. Steelite | Montecito Dinner Fork (1 DZ)
If you like what comes in a typical home set (usually a dinner fork, salad fork, dinner knife, soup spoon and teaspoon) you can still do that. But, buying by the piece allows you the option to only purchase the pieces you want. The next question is what pieces do you want? Well, that depends on what you eat and serve on a regular basis. There is a wider range of pieces in most patterns available for foodservice. For example, iced tea spoons might be the perfect addition to your collection.
Another bonus to purchasing foodservice flatware is that patterns rarely get discontinues. Allowing you to add pieces over a long period of time as your needs change or budget allows. Wishing you would have also got the bouillon spoon won't be a problem.
With spoons, you want to consider their shape and size. And that includes the size of the entire piece but also just the handle and/or the bowl size. Do you prefer a deep bowl or a shallow bowl? Round or oval shape? Or even a squared oval?
A teaspoon is a great all purpose spoon and suits most households. Many foodservice patterns offer a Teaspoon, Dessert/Soup Spoon, Tablespoon, Iced Tea Spoon, Demitasse Spoon and Bouillon Spoon.
A dinner fork (place size or American) is a good all purpose choice when it comes to forks. But again, many foodservice patterns offer a American Dinner Fork, European Dinner Fork, Salad/Dessert Fork and Cocktail Fork.
There are no rules saying that you can't use a dinner fork as a salad/dessert fork or visa versa.
It really depends on what you are cutting. A standard dinner knife might be all you need for everyday, but if you host BBQs or Sunday Night Suppers featuring your famous prime rib with baked potato bar you should consider Dinner Knives, Butter Knives and Steak Knives.
Blades of table knives (dinner, butter and steak) can vary between manufacturers. You can find smooth and serrated. A serrated edged knife blade can be either wavy for fine. There isn't a "best" knife blade as it really comes down to what foods you eat and serve your guests.
Some knives can also have a hollow handle which will make the knife lighter while still offering a substantial grip. However, forks and spoons in the same pattern may or may not also have a hollow handle.
Caring for your flatware
Commercial flatware is built to withstand repeated use and last a long time, but it still needs the proper care to maintain its luster.
Rinse utensils in a timely manner or if possible soak the cutlery before washing either by hand or in the dishwasher. Remember to keep the soak to under 15 minutes. Soaking instead of just rinsing uses less water and the soaking solution can then be transferred to other dishes or pans that make also need a soak. Soaking reduces the chance of food particles getting baked on in the dishwasher. Avoid using abrasive brushes or scrub pads as they can scratch the finish of your cutlery.
Wash and Rinse
When washing in a dishwasher, keep the utensils business end up. And ensure that pieces are not nested to allow for a thorough cleaning. If washing by hand, pay attention to all crevices including between the tines of forks to eliminate food build up.
Air dry is always best for the most sanitary cutlery. Either via the heated dry in your dishwasher or in your dish drying rack on the counter.
Polish (if necessary)
Polish with a clean soft cloth to remove water spots and impress even your most discerning guest with .
When it comes down to it, choosing to buy commercial flatware for your home is a smart decision. ChefEquipment.com makes purchasing foodservice-quality stainless steel cutlery simple. The hard part will be picking your favourite pattern. So grab a fork and dig in to our collection.