Photo taken in Dubai, United Arab Emirates of dried spices, flowers, and herbs
NYC Chefs All Shop At The Same Eclectic Ingredient Store
By Elaina Friedman
For a network of restaurant owners in New York City, there is one place to go for hard-to-find ingredients from local and international producers alike. The exterior of this East Village wholesale shop doesn’t announce itself, meaning it’s always teeming with rare spices, seasonings, syrups, and vinegars, and in recent years, it’s garnered a cult following of food-loving laypeople.
From when it opened its doors in 1996 to 2020, the underground wholesale restaurant supply store, SOS Chefs, relied on New York City restaurants for 90% of its business, but after the pandemic, the store decided to let local foodies in on chefs’ best-kept secret to stay in business. Atef Boulaabi runs SOS Chefs with her husband, saying the new business model has created positive results.
SOS Chefs carries around 1,200 ethically sourced items from all over the world, which Boulaabi packages herself, along with her own homemade teas and fermented products. With a variety of fancy salts and spices, like Iranian blue salt or ajwain seeds, SOS Chefs’ most special offering might be a multitude of vinegars made in-house by Boulaabi from her grandmother’s recipes.