Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Recommended Posts

I'm looking for a kitchen counter to do prep work on and to eat my occassional meal. Can someone suggest where I can buy this? I saw a wooden counter with shelf and drawer storage on one side and a "stick out" ledge on the other side to sit by with bar stools. This was at Ikea.

I also need one strong enough to operate my heavy duty blenders and mixer.

Which restaurant supply stores carry stainless steel counters?

I'm undecided as to whether to get a more esthetic pleasing counter or a simple restaurant work counter.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Both materials have pros and cons.

S/S will take alot of abuse, scratches, hot pots & pans, etc. with a smile. That being said, what's more important is what's under the s/s skin. Most commercial s/s tables are made with a thin guage s/s skin (18 guage) with two sheet metal channels underneath to support. The table won't tolerate a table top mixer, as it will shake and dance itself off the table, nor is it very fun to do any doughwork as the table will wiggle and bounce.

Wood is wonderfull to do doughwork on, it is rock solid and you can thump and flop the dough around without worry. Wood scratches easy, it scorches when hot pots are put on it, it readily accepts food stains, metal stains (wet metal laying ontop of it) but more importantly many people find that a wood countertop is a cutting board and will cut/chop directly on top of it.

These are the pros and cons of each material, now you have to make up your mind or choose another material....

Link to post
Share on other sites

I was hoping that the s/s table would be similarly durable as the one I used at the bakery I use to work at. They used a Kitchen Aid on that table and it seemed fine even on an island-type table. Esthetically I would like a wooden table but for ease of cleaning and durability I will probably get a s/s table.

Now it's just a matter of finding one that I can afford with the features I want. I see Russell's has a 30' X 60" s/s 18-gauge work table for $207. I guess I can fill it in with removeable storage bins and drawers. However, I understand that there are different quality of s/s 18-gauges. Does anyone know if Russell's tables are any good? If not, where else can I get a better quality work table?

Link to post
Share on other sites

In my limited experience with stainless it takes on the look of well-used metal pretty quickly. So, since it won't look new for long, why not see if there's a used worktable available at a local restaurant-supply shop?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Stainless comes in a few different grades; the heavier ones are solid (and quite a bit more expenive than the light ones). You can keep them looking decent by cleaning with an abrasive in the direction of the original brush marks. It won't look new, but it will look ok. I think the biggest argument against stainless is esthetic ... it looks commercial in a way some people don't care for.

I've had my eyes on more than a few used work tables, as Steve suggests. I'm always thwarted by the ordeal of getting the things home.

The most interesting materials I've seen are modern lab countertop materials. There are at least a couple of companies that are retrofitting the materials for kitchens. My guess is that they're expensive, but cheaper than natural stone. They are essential indestructible, with the exception that they can be scratched (but scratches can be polished out).

I posted a link to a couple of manufacturers on an earlier kitchen counter thread. I was hoping to find someone with 1st hand experience (I still don't know anyone).

Edited by paulraphael (log)

Notes from the underbelly

Link to post
Share on other sites

I was hoping that the s/s table would be similarly durable as the one I used at the bakery I use to work at. They used a Kitchen Aid on that table and it seemed fine even on an island-type table. Esthetically I would like a wooden table but for ease of cleaning and durability I will probably get a s/s table.

Now it's just a matter of finding one that I can afford with the features I want. I see Russell's has a 30' X 60" s/s 18-gauge work table for $207. I guess I can fill it in with removeable storage bins and drawers. However, I understand that there are different quality of s/s 18-gauges. Does anyone know if Russell's tables are any good? If not, where else can I get a better quality work table?

18 gauge is pretty thin you probably want one quite a bit heavier. Unless the 18 gauge has awful good support underneath it it will not support very much.

I've learned that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a couple 24"x48" stainless steel tables I picked up at the rest. supply store. As mentioned above, they are not the sturdiest things in the world if you want to put a stand mixer on them: they simply don't weigh enough. I didn't have any trouble getting them home, they were flat-packed (I bought them new). They were really cheap, around $150 I think. That said, if you call all the marks that wood counters get "patina" and are willing to just deal with them, wood is heavy and heavy is good. I just built a new workbench for my garage and the top alone weighs 350 pounds. It does NOT move.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

Link to post
Share on other sites

Very good points from everyone. I'll start with looking for a used work table and whittle through to a quality stainless steel and the last option will be the Ikea table (although the Ikea is sooooo tempting, heavy wood with lots of storage.)

Thanks to everyone for giving me lots to think about.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually Ikea has some good countertops, NOT tables per say, but solid wood countertops. These come in widths of 24" and 30" and lengths of 4, 6, and 8'and are about 1 1/2" thick. They come in beech, birch, or red oak. Beech is your best option.

Remember, s/s is only a thin piece of metal, it's what's under the s/s that counts. I have in the past glued marine grade plywood underneath s/s tables to provide support and weight, but the glue will weaken over time, flexing, and heat from pots/pans. Most s/s table tops will buckle and warp temporarily if you place hote pots/pans/aking trays on them.

You can have your cake and eat it too....

Get your wood countertop of choice and go to any sheet metal mnfctr to make you a "cap" for the table. This is bascially a shallow open box that sits on your table providing you with a s/s skin. You can remove it or keep it on as many times as you wish Larger restaurant suppliers will have an in-house sheetmetal/s/s shop, and in any large city there are sheet metal guys that specialize in s/s.

Link to post
Share on other sites

We have just started the same process, but for us it's wood vs stone. I like stone, my SO prefers the warmth of timber...

A good friend of ours is a stonemason and swears by granite or marble- obviously! Stone composites like Ceasarstone seem to be increasingly popular, and cheaper than natural stone. But mention Ceasarstone to our friend and you'll learn some new swear words- for him it's a type of blasphemy ;-)

One thing I like about stone and steel is that I'm not worried about washing the surface or letting it get wet- with timber there's always a concern that water will lead to rot, it's a problem I've had to fix at two previous houses.

Link to post
Share on other sites

So many choices and so much more to think about. I'm afraid I will buy a table and will later regret it when I find one more suitable.

I think I will take everyone's consideration and have someone build one for me. I like the idea of the wood table with a s/s sheet on top, even moreso if it's removeable. I also have to consider that if I move, I would want to take this with me and moving it around a staircase would require me to be able to dissasemble it (more to think about.)

Link to post
Share on other sites

When I looked at the choice between wood and SS I chose both. 8 feet of butcher block for most of my prep work, and similar lengths for sink and for the stove. Sink and stove have adjacent SS areas so I can unload hot or wet items. The layout is a "U" shape with sink on one side, stove on the other side and wood in the middle connecting them. It's worked out really well. I wouldn't want to lose either material. I could see a similar layout with wood and granite.

Edited by cbread (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites

What about marble? We have a beautiful white marble from Vermont, or a durable green marble from Vermont - the advantage is that they are not absorbent surfaces (more sterile), you can roll, chop or put hot dishes on them. I would rather have the whole counter be the work area from rolling dough for a pie, to making bread dough, my counter is always being used, and is easy to wipe clean!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have marble countertops in my kitchen now, and consider it close to the worst material I've ever used. The patterns make it hard to know if the surfaces are clean; they scratch; they are not acid resistant; they can stain; they're so hard that it doesn't take much of a bump to chip glasses and plates. I'm hoping natural stone in general is a fad that will soon pass. Among all the natural stone options, marble has got to be the least practical.

There are two plusses that I can think of: it's a good surface for rolling dough, and you can set hot pans on it.

I'm hoping I misread the line about chopping in the previous post on marble ...

Notes from the underbelly

Link to post
Share on other sites

One objection I keep reading about wood is the supposed difficulty cleaning. I use a burred edge on a bench scraper to scrape off the last ten thousandth inch (give or take a few) of wood, much as butchers used to back when they used a wood surface. Periodic scraping keeps the counter looking wonderful and takes little time. Having said that, I must note I do not make my job more work than necessary. I do not slather great quantities of water and oil etc all over the top. My stainless area gets the wet stuff and I am careful with oils.

It takes a while to learn how to use a chef's steel to raise, and to keep, a burred edge on a bench scraper, but once you know, you have the ticket to a very neat butcher block top. Each pass with a scraper takes off a minute, microscopic shaving. It will take decades to make a noticeably uneven work surface.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The above mentioned is probably the best way to "clean" a wood countertop, which I do on a daily basis at work, but I don't use a bench scraper......

I use a scraper-scraper, a.k.a. cabinet scraper. This is nothing more than a piece of steel, maybe 3" x 5" with a burr rolled on the edges. Many fine furniture makers and especially musical instrument makers use this tool to smooth wood before applying a finish, and this tool was used looooong before sandpaper (only about 100 years old)was used.

The tool itself is dirt-cheap, maybe $10, and many craftsmen make thier own from worn out saws. You can buy one at woodworking tool suppliers like Lee Valley, Rockler, etc.

Thier is a learning curve to sharpening and raising a burr on one, but as the above poster mentioned, it is probably the best tool for cleaning wood countertops.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...