Note: win a voucher to a Chefparade cooking class through this link!
If you go to Chefparade warehouse expecting a warehouse proper you might be a little disappointed. There are no massive multi-packs of anything or forklift operators moving around discounted foodstuffs. Instead it’s something even better, like the well-stocked home pantry of a chef or a cooking school, the latter of which it actually is.
Chefparade cooking school has locations in Prague, Budapest, and Bratislava. At the Prague school, located in Žižkov, one can learn a variety of techniques from carving to barbecuing to wok skills. Kids workshops, classes for tourists and, of course, traditional Czech cuisine classes are offered. The school has also published a large glossy cookbook with Czech takes on classic international recipes and boasts a food truck that serves big portions of good stuff like grilled tuna and vegetables at a nice price.
It makes sense then that such an enterprising organization also has a storehouse of ingredients in the same building as its cooking school – a little nook of products amid stainless steel work stations and wall to wall pots and pans. While the offerings don’t seem extensive at first, there’s an in-store catalog from which you can order a number of cooking items and sushi-grade tuna and salmon among other delicacies. If you need to take a break from browsing there is a sofa corner with cooking magazines.
The items that are available in Chefparade’s specialty food shop represent the cuisines taught in its cooking courses mainly those of Italy, Thailand, France, and Japan. Students can conveniently pick up groceries to try to recreate the recipes learned in the cooking school at home. But you needn’t run out and enroll in order to take advantage of the Chefparade warehouse. You simply need to be someone who is on the look out for quality groceries at a fair price.
Prague has of late been inundated with upscale gourmet boutiques that sell imported pastas and pates – many of them are as snooty and intimidating as they are overpriced. Chefparade is none of those things. On the day of our visit a friendly employee toured us through the shelves of pasta, rice, baslamics, and olive oils and a host of other cooking staples while explaining that Chefparade imports a number of these products directly from Italy with no middle man to keep costs low. (In fact some of the products, including a premium coffee and a special balsamic vinegar, are made especially for Chefparade in a village near Pisa.)
That’s where the ‘warehouse’ lingo comes in: not only do the owners drive to Italy to pick up the goods once a month, wholesale pricing provides discounts for the more you buy. For example one box of jasmine rice is 59 CZK, two boxes is 55 CZK and six boxes is 45 CZK. A 300g wedge of Grana Pardano is 129 CZK for one piece, 115 CZK for six. Each product has a different pricing scale though the deepest discount is generally up to 35 percent off and there are catalogs available at points throughout the store for quick reference. You can also see the way their wholesale pricing works at the e-shop.
On a recent visit I gravitated toward things that are typically overpriced or hard to come by at supermarkets. Delizie del Sole risotto rice (59 CZK/1 kg), Tre Mullini farina pizza flour, (39 CZK/1 kg), and a variety of rices from sushi to basmati and jasmine (59 CZK/1 kg), a sizeable discount from what you would pay for a half kilo at Albert. This goes for sea salt as well; the steal of the week was a 1 kg box of Sala Grossa Marina for 25 CZK. Another find that is a common grocery list item at our house, sriracha sauce, was 59 CZK for a 730 ml bottle, the cheapest I’ve seen in Prague at Sapa or anywhere else.
French and Italian delicacies such as oil-packed artichokes, something I used to buy often in the US but that I’ve foregone in Prague strictly because they are so expensive, were 69 czk for a 289 g jar. Capers, those spicy little buds that give pasta dishes a flavorful pop, are 39 CZK for a 200 g jar and a 285 g jar of sun-dried tomatoes is 59 CZK. Also reasonably priced, a range of French mustards by Amore Maille (49-78 CZK) and terrine de cannard (180 g/89 CZK). If you are into pates and spreadable meats there is also a selection of the Czech brand Dědova spíž which is 95 percent meat, at 69 CZK for 300 g.
The selection of affordable balsamics and olive oils, all available to sample, is worth the visit alone. We tried filtered and non-filtered varieties of extra virgin olive oil and cream balsamics in a number of flavors including lemon and chili. There is also a small section devoted to baking with savoiardi biscuits for tiramisu, chestnut cream, and forms and white chocolate buttons for candy making.
On our visit one section of the floor was covered with gift bags bearing the Chefparade logo. The gift bag business is booming with companies and individuals both opting to give them as holiday gifts. A bundle of products plus a Chefparade cookbook (in Czech) is available starting at 300 CZK. For those feeling extra festive, prosecco, Chianti and a number of other premium bottles start at 199 czk.
The only thing lacking at Chefparade warehouse was a refrigerator section, though the helpful salesperson told us that one is forthcoming so that the store can widen its product range.
And while that product range may not be of true warehouse scope, it is certainly worth a visit for the prices.
Husitská 56, Prague 3
Metro B/C Florenc
Which cooking staples are on your grocery list and where do you buy them?
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