COVID-19 has a lot of businesses on the ropes. Restaurants, of course, have taken a beating. So, too, have the companies that supply food products to restaurants, hotels and casinos. Kathi Riley Smith, a longtime chef who now oversees Oak Cafe at American River College, worries about the future for wholesalers hit hard by the pandemic. To help out, she has been buying direct from restaurant suppliers for cooking at home. For instance, she recently placed an order for duck sausages from Liberty Duck in Sonoma. “I feel good about throwing them business,” she says. “Some of these places are really struggling.” Riley Smith encourages others to do the same. “There are so many people who don’t know that they can order directly from the same purveyors restaurants do,” she says. One benefit, according to Riley Smith: Even if you’re not a professional chef, “if you start with the best product, you’re going to end up with something pretty darn good.”
Here are three restaurant wholesalers that sell direct to consumers:
Chef Panisse, Zuni Cafe and The French Laundry all source duck from this family-owned farm in Petaluma. Now you can now buy the same high-quality fowl—whole and in parts. In addition to legs, breasts and duck chunks, offerings include giblets (for making pates and mousses) and bones (for making stock). You can also order raw fat and skin if you want to render your own duck fat. (Duck fat fries, anyone?) Orders are shipped via UPS directly to your door. (800) 953-8257; libertyducks.com
Del Monte Meat Co.
This Northern California wholesaler offers an astonishing assortment of meats, seafood and specialty foods—everything from hamburger patties to cleaned octopus. Most products are available only in commercial sizes, but anyone can walk in off the street and purchase smaller quantities: five pounds of ground beef, for instance, or 10 pounds of chicken. The company also sells specialty boxes, such as a pork tomahawk chop box for $79, an Angus beef chef’s selection box for $150 and a seafood cioppino kit for $59. 4051 Seaport Blvd., West Sacramento; (916) 927-0595; chefswarehouse.com/delmonte
Reeds Gourmet Meats Co.
This East Sac meat processing plant now sells five meat packages directly to consumers, at prices ranging from $50 to $90. The basic $50 package includes 3 pounds boneless chicken breast, 2 pounds ground chuck, 1.4 pounds pork chops and 2 pounds each of sausage links and bacon. The $90 Steak Lover package features about 2 pounds each of rib-eye, New York and flat-iron steaks. Reed can also create custom packages. Order by phone and your purchase will be ready for pickup the next day between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. 1210 66th St.; (916) 452-3996; reedsgourmet.com