I’m back with another batch of gift ideas and neat thingamabobs you might want to consider buying for the chef in your life this holiday season. Now, when you really stop and think about it, a scarf, a sweater, some socks–well, you only wear them once in a while. A book? Well, once you read it, it’s on the shelf collecting dust. And you only need so many (fill in the blank with another type of gift).
On the other hand, a great kitchen knife, a cutting board, and any number of cooking utensils are used and appreciated pretty much every day if you buy smart. I’ve extolled the virtues of a number of great gift ideas in past blogs (click on links here), and they’re all still terrific recommendations:
But it was time to go back out to the stores to see just what those wacky folks at cookware stores have put up on the shelves this year to tempt our credit cards. I cased the usual suspects. My favorite, Sur la Table, as well as William Sonoma and Bed, Bath & Beyond. Generally speaking, in my opinion, Sur la Table has the largest selection, and quite often, the most well-informed staff. When it comes to prices for identical national brand items at each store, it’s so close (if not identical) that it’s not worth your while to price shop. Your two alternatives are online with folks like these:
And there are ALWAYS discount coupons for the aforementioned stores online.
So, with that said, what did I find this year that you may want to buy for your chef?
Stainless Steel Pizza Peel
I love my 12” x 12” stainless-steel pizza peel, and I think you would too. It has a sturdy 12” wood handle, and whether you use it to scoop pizza off a baking stone or grab a steaming-hot casserole, it eliminates the need to throw on a pair of oven mitts. They’re about $25 and well worth it. You can even hang it up as a decorative kitchen tool.
Another one of my ALL TIME favorite kitchen tools is a Mandolin slicer, and I’ve blogged specifically about the Japanese Benriner brand. Well, now you don’t have to find an Asian kitchen supply store in your neighborhood because Sur la Table carries its super-sized one. It comes with three changeable blades for cutting julienne strips or you can just use the main blade to cut slices. At about $65, it’s great, but NOW they also have a tabletop spiral slicer under their own brand. It’s only $35! THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is a fantastic price!
Mini Food Mill
During the holidays, you can bet you’ll be mashing or pureeing something for the dinner table. Chefs have always preferred using a food mill or a ricer to get textbook smooth mashed potatoes and perfect purees. Sur la Table has you covered BOTH ways, and I especially like their MINI Food Mill, which is a perfect size for the home kitchen.
Joseph Joseph Spoon
Among the cheapest and most usable kitchen gifts you can give are hand tools and implements. Things like spatulas, spoons, whisks, tongs and such. I love piling all the styles and colors in a crock on my counter. It’s almost like a floral arrangement and VERY convenient when you’re cookin’ up a storm. Two of my favorites are the slotted turner and the nylon Joseph® spoon with built-in spoon rest.
Oil Bottle by Curtis Stone
I’ve often mentioned that one of the essentials in your kitchen should be an oil bottle filled with whatever oil you use the most (usually vegetable or canola oil). Mine are glass, but William Sonoma has a gorgeous stylized oil vase, which is as beautiful as it is functional. Definitely worth $25.
Scraper and Baking Mat
Two other small but HIGHLY useful kitchen implements are a bench scraper and a non-stick baking mat. Sur la Table’s stainless-steel scraper is as adept at scraping cut vegetables off your cutting board and into your frying pan as it is chopping dough or helping you measure the width of any product you’re working on with its handy built-in ruler. As for the non-stick baking mat, I find them invaluable whether used for baking cookies or as a liner underneath a pie that you just KNOW will bubble over and create an otherwise impossible sticky mess on a metal baking pan.
Wine Glass Writer
Ever go to a party and see wine glasses with some kind of jewelry hanging from them to identify whose glass is whose? Well, if you’d rather not see those in the trash, or even worse, caught in your garbage disposal at the end of the night, there’s an answer. The Original Wine Glass Writer® consists of special marker pens your guests can use to write their own names (or messages) on their glasses. I can only imagine the possibilities here…
And last but not least, what is definitely THE most important and most used kitchen implement in anyone’s kitchen? Cutlery. If you don’t own a good set of kitchen knives, now may be the year to invest in some. I have some favorites (check out some of my suggestions here), but the most important thing is to go to a good cookware store and test drive a number of brands to see which best suits you and your budget. It’s money well spent.
There you have it, a short list of some great gift ideas for the chef in your life. Hopefully, your gifts result in some great meals in return.