Tag Archives: Culinary Shopping

Culinary Gifts and Stocking Stuffers for 2013

Black Friday is in the books, but if you’re like most of us, you still have a lot of shopping to do because the gifts you have bought so far were probably of the easy, low-hanging-fruit variety.

As the shopping days become fewer and the crowds larger, it might be time to step up your game and give some thought to just what you’re going to give those serious cooks on your list (especially if they’ll be making your meals in 2014).

I’ve put together a short list to help you out and hopefully put a smile on the face of your chef this holiday season.

Now, I realize that some of these suggestions may seem obvious, but don’t overlook the fact that they might STILL be just what your cook needs the most.

Kitchen Knives

For example, high-quality pots, pans and knives will always top my kitchen essentials list. Unfortunately, they’re on the expensive side, but don’t feel you have to buy an entire battery of pots and pans or a full set of knives. You can start with one nice pot or knife and build a set as other special occasions come along. They’re GREAT birthday and anniversary gifts too! And if you buy high-quality brands, they’ll last a lifetime.

Quality Pots & Pans

Be sure to check out my recommendations for pots and pans along with my recommendations on kitchen knives on my blog earlier this year.

Lekue Steamer

Moving on to a few less-expensive gifts, I’ve fallen in love with my Lékué Brand silicone steamer tray, which I use in my microwave oven to stream fresh vegetables, fish and chicken. It’s VERY dishwasher friendly, and for $20 bucks, it’s one of my better buys this year.


Oddly enough, I NEVER seem to have enough tongs and spatulas in my kitchen (and I’m probably not alone). Between what I’m using, what’s in the sink and what’s in the dishwasher, I seem to need at least six at any one time. Besides, if you buy some fun, colorful ones, they almost take the place of a flower arrangement in your kitchen. They’re cheap, and you don’t have to water them.

Oil Bottles

I’ve blogged this year about some other important kitchen essentials too, so I would be remiss if I didn’t include them on this year’s gift shopping list. One, an insta-read thermometer, and another, decorative (or any) oil and vinegar bottles, which you can use to keep your favorite oils within easy reach of your cook-top. I love the convenience, and they give your kitchen a more gourmet look.


How important is a good thermometer? You’d be surprised. This $10 gift idea can save you a lot of money (and some bad meals). I always have one in my chef coat pocket and at least two within easy reach in my home kitchen. To learn more about why they are one of my top holiday stocking stuffer picks, click here.

Roasting Pan

And because we have two more holidays coming up where roasts may be on your menu, if the cook on your shopping list doesn’t have a good roasting pan with a rack insert, it’s about time you got him or her one. It will pay large dividends at the dinner table. There are many different brands to choose from, and because your roast really shouldn’t be sitting on the deck of the pan (instead of cradled in the rack above), it’s not essential that you spend a fortune on the luxury model.

Whirley Pop

Speaking of luxury, there’s nothing luxurious about popcorn. But when it’s as good as the best movie theater’s (or better), it’s about as luxurious a treat as you could wish for this holiday season. And Whirley Pop ™, the maker of one of the best (and most fun) popcorn makers around, has a stove-top model that replicates those theater memories (movie tickets not included). It’s a great gift for anyone in the family!

You’ll find all of these items at Sur La Table or William Sonoma and most at Bed, Bath & Beyond.

Have a wonderful holiday season.

An Afternoon of Culinary Shopping in Paris

Okay, I admit it.

I’m a sucker for a pretty grill.

Even more so for new pots, pans, knives, whisks and just about any other great-looking cookware or bakeware.

Especially if it’s shiny or colorful.

For me, shopping for kitchen supplies isn’t a chore; it’s an art.

And just like artists, who can look at blank canvases and imagine the pictures they’re about to paint, many chefs can picture EXACTLY what that finished entrée or dessert will look like on the plate as they’re gazing at shelves of empty metal pots or lifeless pastry molds.

Yet sometimes, that’s exactly where the birth of a new dish begins: right there in aisle 3 of a cookware shop.

I’ll admit, however, that I don’t find much inspiration walking past the housewares department at Target or Macy’s. But when, only hours after leaving England, I found myself immersed in one of the cultural centers of the culinary world, as is the case in Paris, my brain was having a hard time processing all of the mental images flashing through it. This was not unlike the passing scenery on the bullet train from London to Paris I had just arrived on. I toured every aisle of every store, not wanting to miss anything but just as anxious to see what was around the next corner.

In Paris, there are many cookware shops. Some specialize more in cooking supplies, some are geared toward bakers and pastry chefs, and others have more day-to-day items for the general public.

But whatever your culinary interest, the heart of the cookware district is in Les Halles. This is appropriate since Les Halles has been given the nickname The Stomach of Paris, and it’s also been THE central marketplace in the city of Paris for centuries.

Of the many shops in the Les Halles area of Paris’ 1st arrondissement, the following four are notable:

E.Dehillerin Specializes in classic cookware

La Bovida Cookware, bakeware, dining supplies

A. Simon Good selection, great values, general supplies

Mora Specializes in bakery and pastry supplies

All of the stores above are located within a block of one another, and there are plenty of wonderful cafés sprinkled about to help you recharge your shopping batteries and rest your arms from toting your newly found treasures.

If you’d like to learn a little more about this culinary shoppers’ paradise and see just what I bought on my recent trip, check out my video and discover what a cook’s heaven really looks like.