To get into Restaurant Depot all you need is a state vendors licence to set up an account. It can be for any business, and need not be a restaurant. I used mine consulting business for the "employee commisary" and got in just fine. They charge any credit card that you have at checkout; but you must show the RD card at checkout. I am sure your chef friend might help you out. You will get two cards that are good at any restaurant depot.
As to flour, both the All Trumps and the Full Strength were bleached and bromated. Your current flour is likely just fine. The FS is at 12.6% protein, and works in a number of recipes for me just fine. If you get into French baguettes, I mix 50% FS with 50% All Purpose and it seems to match the French flour pretty well. Two friends that are professionals recommended the GM FS to me, so I listened to them. The price at RD is so cheap at $14/50 lbs that became my baseline flour. I split bags with another friend that cooks like me, so they only last two months at the most.
Instead of simmering your sauce, try the Microwave Assisted Extraction method. It is a home run. A couple of minutes at 30% power. Use water or oil to moisten your spices a bit in a heat safe container. I tend to use mostly water, and have been putting in a little olive oil to capture some of the oil soluble flavors lately. I think you don't want to get the mixture over 160 degF if I recall correctly. I was so excited about this method that I was blabbering to a friend who is an executive chef at a known good restaurant in my area... he smiled and explained how I had happened upon one of his "signature secrets!"
... but my thanks go to Red November.
PS: Our member Norma427 just won the Caputo Cup for the best NY style pizza this last month. When you have some time, read some of her threads. She has been actively experimenting for years to perfect her pies, and has shared all the steps with us on the board. It is quite a volume of material, and I think she could author a number of books from the material so far! The judges say her NY pie won because of the "balance," so she is a good source for tips in that area.