How do Restaurants Source Their Food?

Restaurants Source Their Food

Behind every great chef (or in front of them, rather) there’s a selection of equally excellent ingredients just waiting to whet your palate. But how many of these tasty components come fresh off the farm and how many come from places like warehouses and wholesalers…and how much does that matter, anyway? Today we’ll look into where restaurants source their food from, and what difference it makes for your dinner.

It’s important to realize that most restaurants will use a variety of the following to procure food for their patrons, and very rarely is there a “best” way for a restaurant to put food on your table. As long as the meal is fresh, delicious, and safely cooked, its point of origin is going to be relatively unimportant as far as the customer’s stomach is concerned. This is less a way of judging which ways of buying food are better or worse, and more of a look into the way your favorite restaurants operate.

Local Farms

Local farmers are one of the top resources for getting delicious meals to restaurant patrons all over the world. Not only are you getting fresh food from a local source, but much of the time you’ll also be contributing to your native ecosystem, as area farmers tend to use techniques and planting systems that put less of a strain on the earth. Some local farms will work directly with a restaurant in question, sending food straight to their kitchen in cartons and on pallets, while others will distribute with larger national farms in a similar system to how the big chains do it. And speaking of which, that leads well into our next area…


A wholesaler is essentially a large warehouse full of food that restaurants can utilize to get their ingredients in bulk shipments. It may not carry the trendy ring of the local farmer or organic entrepreneur, but wholesalers are an important link in the chain of many successful restaurants, and lots of wholesalers still manage to provide fresh, fantastic food regardless. A good warehouse will keep its food tasty and fresh, so don’t balk at the thought of getting your ingredients from one of these locations!

Beer and Wine Sellers

Wine doesn’t simply taste great with many meals, it also plays a key role in keeping you healthy to boot! And offering tasty craft beers can be a great way to entice patrons who like to have a little fun at dinnertime as well. If you have the budget, working with multiple breweries to get a good variety of beers in stock and a sommelier to suss out which wines will pair best with which of your meals can add a whole new layer of appeal to your establishment.

Woman eating food at wooden table (woman-food-wooden-table)


No self-respecting restaurant should serve meat without having a few choice cuts represented by their local butcher. A butchery will be able to present meat with artisanship and expertise that can’t be matched by a warehouse chain, and you can frequently get a great price on high quality meat if you’re willing to work with your butcher. Plus, letting your customers know their meat is coming from a reputable local source can justify a slight price bump on some of your more luxurious meals. Even during the busiest shifts, high-quality kitchen appliances like a BBQ grill island may help you consistently deliver tasty cuisine.

What’s the “Best” Way to Get Food for Your Restaurant?

Any savvy restauranteur is likely going to rely on multiple sources for the food they need, but restaurants in different situations will likely benefit from using some sources more than others. For instance, restaurants that are just starting out might want to save money by getting most of their food wholesale and only a portion of it from organic retailers; on the other hand, an establishment that prides itself mainly on its wine selection might be able to justify offering only a handful of dinner items sourced from the most exclusive sources. Taking a look at your books, your clientele, and the brand you want your restaurant to exude and going from there will always be the best way to figure out how you should source your food in the long run.

Do you have any questions about how restaurants source their food, stories about sourcing for your own establishment, or are just wondering what luxury wines might work best with your meals of choice? Leave us a comment below and let your voice be heard!

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