Top Chef Relies on Durable, Hygienic Cambro Camshelving in Restaurants


Chef Katsuji Tanabe has been in the restaurant industry for 30 years and says Cambro has been with him every step of the way. Coming to America from Mexico in 1999, Tanabe started his career as a dishwasher at various restaurants. Eventually working his way up to becoming a cook and later an executive chef, Cambro products were utilized in each of his roles.

“When you talk about Cambro, it’s like saying Kleenex; you recognize the brand as a name,” said Tanabe.

Starting with his very first restaurant in Beverly Hills, California, in 2010, Tanabe decided he wanted to devote some of his capital to purchase quality products for the back of house.

“When I opened my restaurant, I didn’t have a lot of money, so I needed to buy something that I knew would last and could take the beat up of my cooks,” said Tanabe. “We know cooks tend to destroy pretty much everything, and Cambro was the best solution.”

Not only did his Cambro products prove their durability day after day, some of the originals are still standing—a decade later!

“I think I still have some of those [Cambro] containers I got 10 years ago. They last a long time,” said Tanabe.

In addition to Cambro’s storage containers, Tanabe was intrigued by Camshelving because of its reputation for being long-lasting, easy to clean and organized.

“The first time we [installed Camshelving] was in Chicago at Barrio [restaurant] and we expanded our storage space…because everything looked organized. It’s all about that. Chefs, we tend to be very control freaks. I want my walk-ins, my refrigeration…I want them to look like a…I’ve never been in Germany, but I’m assuming…like a German library. Everything is super organized.”

Tanabe now owns six restaurants across the country and has been a fan favorite during three separate appearances on Bravo’s Top Chef television series.

“When you’re opening a restaurant, you see your budget, you see how much money you want to spend on your PR and your chairs and things like that. I think sometimes we look at shelving as an afterthought or you know, we’ll just get the racks that are metal, but in the long-run, [Camshelving] really makes a huge difference,” said Tanabe. “Number one, it’s how organized it looks and number two, how easy they are to clean. [Camshelving], literally, you take them apart and then you run them through the dishwasher…and really it’s a huge difference.”

Although restauranteurs can be hesitant to dedicate too much money to their back of house, Tanabe firmly believes that you get what you pay for.

[Camshelving units] aren’t the cheapest thing, but it works, and it works well for a reason. I prefer to invest in the long-run, [rather] than down six months seeing [my shelving] all rusted and destroyed,” said Tanabe.

Most evenings, Tanabe can be found in the greater Los Angeles area at his restaurant, The Nixon Chops & Whiskey, cooking for and personally greeting his guests.


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