During the last five years, the companies that manufacture and distribute cooking equipment in the United States have become more and more interested in commercial quality products adapted for use in the home. This trend was in great evidence at the International Gourmet Products Show that was held May 18 through 21 in San Francisco.

Thousands of people involved in the design, production, promotion and sale of cooking equipment, gathered here to prepare for the 1980 fall season, and for the first time the industry appears to be almost totally freed from the introduction of new, faddish and useless products.

Perhaps this is because consumers are beginning to feel the pinch of the recession and their confidence had been severely shaken. Perhaps it is simply an industry that has passed through its adolescent, highly faddish and undirected period into a more mature and well thought-out stage.

The reasons for the direction may be debatable, but the manifestations are clear: High-quality, well-conceived and functional products dominated this trade show. Perhaps the newest aspect of this interest in industrial quality products is the introduction of the commercial British cleaning agent called Astonish. It does not contain acids or alkalines. It is completely non-toxic; and it is fully bio-degradable. Astonish is a non-polluting cleaning agent for use on stainless steel, aluminum, copper, brass, porcelain, chrome, pewter and wood formica. This is the first of a group of high-quality commercial cleaning products that will shortly be available to the home cook.

Anodized aluminum cookward that is highly heat conductive and does not interact chemically with high acid food is in greater and greater demand. Wearever's entire line of restaurant cookware was shown. Their non-stick omlet pans are magnificent, and their range of stockpots tops out with one that is considerably larger than my first apartment.

Hoan Products is making a new expandable steamer that is 12 inches in diameter. This is much more convenient to use than the present 9-inch model that has become so popular with cooks who are interested in preserving the natural aspects of their food by steaming.

Terraillon, the French manufacturer of excellent scales and timers, has produced a tubular salt shaker that when turned releases a pre-measured amount of salt into a shaking chamber from which you do your shaking. It is a good way to help control sodium intake.

Williams Bounds, a man consumed by a passion for improving pepper-mill design, displayed his new mills for pepper and nutmeg. Each is extremely well-designated and constructed with clear and precise controls for size of grind.

All in all, it was an exhibition of products that made one feel that in this industry at least intelligence is in control. No square eggmakers, no one-use, energy wasting hamburger fryers. For the most part it was good solid engineering at its best. Recessions are difficult, but for the housewares industry it appears to be precipitating a return to sound and basic products.