In many ways, I find shopping for the home cook or chef in your life relatively easy—maybe because it’s my passion. I can’t walk past a kitchen store without ogling the goodies inside; so it’s safe to say that my friends and family know they can’t go wrong with choosing gifts for the kitchen during the holidays.
That said, if you’re not a cook yourself, it could be challenging when you’re trying to navigate all of that equipment and supplies It can be tough knowing if your cook would find something useful or not.
I’m here to help.
Below is a selection of gifts that are favored by most cooks out there. I broke them out by specialty—think I missed one? Let me know in the comments below!
For the Baker
The best part about shopping for a baker is that you typically get to enjoy the fruits of their labor—literally. Bakers are good friends to have, because baking itself is fun for them while eating tasty treats is fun for everyone else. Did I mention that it’s pie season as well?
For the baker in your life, you have a few options. You can help your baker stock up on necessary (but simple) items like pastry bags and spatulas (you can never have enough). Or you can get a piece of specialty equipment for your baker, like mini tartlet mold by World Cuisine or a batter dispenser—perfect for Sunday morning brunch when you’re making pancakes or waffles and don’t want to worry about the mess of overfilling the pan.
Do you know if your baker is interested in candy making or becoming a chocolatier? These specialized areas of interest also require an arsenal of specific tools including chocolate molds, sugar pumps, and other candy making supplies.
For the Gastronome
If you’ve watched Top Chef before, chances are you’ve seen a few gastronomes similar to the likes of Richard Blais experimenting with molecular gastronomy in their cooking. Coined in 1988 by a late Oxford physicist, molecular gastronomy is a sub discipline of food science where chefs utilize unique ingredients to create a new style of cooking. And the trend is catching on, evident by the widely popular wd~50 headed by Executive Chef Wylie Dufresne.
Powdered olive oil, arugula spaghetti, fruit caviar and more all require a variety of ingredients and tools. Tools like tweezer tongs, ring molds, and whippers are ideal for creating unique dishes. Be sure to check out some vacuum packing machines (also known as sous vide cooking), which is a cooking technique favored by many gastronomes. You may also consider a butane torch as well, because, it’s cool (and handy), right?
Finally, what dish wouldn’t be complete without proper presentation? Uniquely-shaped plates (like these from International Tableware and Vertex showcase equally unique dishes. After all, we eat with our eyes first, right?
For the Hunter
A big task for any hunter is breaking down processing meat. It isn’t unusual for a hunter’s freezer (or two) to be full of meat for a good 12 months or so. Help the hunter in your life by getting him or her a few needed kitchen tools:
There are a variety of knives available to the hunter for butchering their kill. From skinning and breaking knives, to a cimeter knife (like this one from Victorinox), butchering knives typically feature sharp, curved blades which make it easier to cut around bone and sinew. You’ll find that the right knife makes a big difference when it comes to using as much meat as possible from an animal.
Meat grinders are ideal for creating ground meats for mixtures in burgers, sausages, meatballs and more. A great thing about meat grinders is that you can typically find it as an attachment for your mixer. Both stand alone and attachment-style commercial meat grinders are built to handle all kinds of game your hunter might come home with.
For the Mixologist
Crafting the perfect cocktail is truly an art. And despite last year’s CNN article positing that mixologists were just pretentious bartenders, I find there is no misnomer here. Standing behind a bar is one thing, but knowing just what and how much of each ingredient to combine in order to deliver a delicious cocktail is quite another. Despite what you think about the popular moniker, truth is you need a few tools to mix any kind of cocktail—behind the bar, or at home.
An essential kit for the mixologist in your life would include:
This small start to your bar is really all you need for crafting a myriad of cocktails. Encourage your mixologist to get creative in his or her concoctions, and be sure they invite you over for some taste tests.
For the Lazy
I know, “lazy” is an adjective with somewhat negative connotations to it. When we think of someone who’s lazy, we think of someone who isn’t pulling his or her own weight. And while someone classified as “lazy” might make shortcuts when it comes to cooking, am I’ll for the following shortcut:
I give you, the panini press.
The panini press is an easy way to take a ham and cheese sandwich from “Oh, hum” to “YUM.” It’s amazing what a little bit of toasted and pressed bread action can do for you. You can easily jazz up simple ingredients like tomato and mozzarella when you have a panini press.
Check it out:
And the best part?
This almost foolproof piece of equipment is extremely easy to operate: just plug it in and you’re good to go. Some models are even great for grilling up vegetables, chicken, hamburgers and much more!