Good Gifts, Whichever Way You Slice 'Em
12 Guys of Christmas: The Chef
We get it — everyone is a foodie now. From your buddy excitedly fawning over the new Santoku he just picked up to your dad calling to inform you about the super authentic Ethiopian place he wants to try next time he and mom come to visit, the chances of having a cookie on your holiday shopping list are greater than ever.
But what do you buy them? Your food-focused gift-getter obviously already has the basics — the knives, pans and culinary detritus that make up his obsession — and nothing says, “hey, I’m too lazy to make an effort, but I think I remember you’re into food” like a gift card that ends up only covering half the bill at the restaurant-du-now. Thank Bourdain, we’ve got you covered with a dozen of the best gastronomic gifts for the season. If by some chance your recipient already has everything on this list, congratulations: you’re holiday gift-buddies with Alton Brown. Please tell him we’re all big fans down here at GP headquarters.
Ankarsrum Original Stand Mixer
For the aspiring Hugh Acheson, there is no gadget more revered than The Mixer. You know the one: it sits in prime position on every wedding registry in America, and in every home kitchen worth its (sea) salt. The Mixer may be the proud, loud king of the counter, but our favorite contender isn’t big on talking. With a surprisingly quiet 600-watt motor and a 7-liter mixing bowl, the Ankarsrum Original Stand Mixer is a beautiful powerhouse, practically doubling every other mixer in both power and yield. Tack on added details like an integrated bowl scraper, and your gift recipient will be wondering what the hell he was doing considering that big box mixer in the first place.
Being a culinarian isn’t all roasts and rainbows. With every terrine and tiramisu comes some trash, and considering the amount of cooking your chef does, there’s bound to be a lot of it. The Trash Krusher is made to help, well, crush — excuse us — krush your trash. This fingerprint-proof stainless steel bin has a detachable lid that slides down and compacts garbage, saving you and your shirt sleeve the trouble. The company claims the Krusher reduces the amount of standard trash bags you’ll use by half, which means less time walking to the curb and more time saddling up to the dinner table.
Hedley & Bennett Aprons
Cooking is just as much about style as it is substance, as evidenced by these Los Angeles–made aprons by Hedley and Bennett. Devised by a former industry cook, the aprons are crafted from durable and handsome materials, including American canvas and Japanese selvage denim (you know, to protect the Japanese selvage denim that you’re wearing from getting food all over it). Many top restaurants rep the battle-ready aprons in their own kitchens, including names your foodie will most surely know, like Ink, Animal, and Chicago’s own Publican Quality Meats. If it’s good enough for the guys that are shaping tomorrow’s culinary landscape, surely it’s good enough for your bud that’s making today’s meatloaf.
Borough Furnace Skillets
You would think that a skillet is a skillet is a skillet, but this is not the case — at least not for Syracuse-based Borough Furnace. Utilizing what they call “a traditional casting process that has been updated for environmental responsibility”, the folks of Borough use old vegetable oil (like the fryer oil used in restaurants) and scrap iron to cast their line of hardworking skillets. The process is so intensive that the shop can only churn out two to three skillets a day. What’s this mean for you? Get ‘em now, if you can.
The best gifts are often the ones that recipients would never get themselves. If this statement holds true, we’re willing to bet Benjamins to beignets that these small batch toothpicks will be the best gift your friend has ever received. Crafted from veneer-quality Northern White Birch, Daneson toothpicks are environmentally focused (the company seeks to always replant the same number of trees as it mills), and come in a variety of flavors, including Lemon, Mint, and (our favorite) Single Malt Scotch.
The Original Baconkit
You’d be hard pressed to find someone that could improve on bacon. No worries, though — we found them for you. The guys at 7th West Charcuterie in Seattle have paired the delectable standby with a DIY mentality in their Original Bacon Kit. It comes with everything you need to make your own bacon: curing rub, maple sugar, thermometer, and, most importantly, instructions. The only thing it’s missing is 5 pounds of pork belly, but we’re pretty sure you don’t want to wrap that and leave it under the tree.
BlueTherm Duo Thermometer
Just because you’re into food doesn’t mean you’re good at cooking it. For those on your list that are still working to improve their kitchen chops, there’s the BlueTherm Duo. With a digital display and a readability range of over 2,500° F, this thermometer can definitely stand the heat (ahem), but its real usefulness lies in its Bluetooth transmitter, which beams temps and times to your iOS or Android device. The chef can even log cooking data to review and improve on past meals, ensuring that when you do eventually come over for dinner, your beef tenderloin will be done well, and not well done.
Vitamix Professional Series 300
Gifting a gastronaut is normally not cheap, but at least it’s defensible (i.e., “This gift is expensive, but he’ll have it forever”). This line of thought works fairly well for a knife that’s a hundred or so dollars, less so for a blender that costs as much as the monthly note on a 5-series for well-qualified lessees. With a 2.2 peak horsepower motor, though, this mighty mixer makes a strong case for purchase, churning out smoothies, shakes and sauces with ease. However, all you really need to know is this: the Vitamix can make steaming bowls of soup, heating it with the friction created from the velocity of its spinning blades. Yeah, you read that correctly. Purchase vindicated? Purchase vindicated.
In few other subjects are instruction manuals (cookbooks, by their nature, are instructional), read and enjoyed as wholly as in cooking. But as food culture has morphed and evolved, so too have its books. Whether it hails from Los Angeles, Portland, Manhattan or the Mediterranean, the modern cookbook covers far more than recipes and measurements. A cross between non-fiction and art photography books, these selections are a welcomed addition to any food-lover’s library, as well as a refreshing change of pace from The Food Network. Too much Bobby Flay is not good for anyone.
The Complete Chemex Set
To the uninitiated, coffee may be just another drink, but not so to the gourmet in your life. You could take the time to assemble, piece by piece, a comprehensive caffeinated arsenal, or you could simply purchase the Complete Chemex Kit. Curated by the mad scientists at Verve Coffee Roasters, the kit contains everything you need to create the perfect pour-over cup: electric burr grinder for uniform coffee grounds; gooseneck water kettle for precision pouring; electric scale for weighing (we told you it was a big deal); and, of course, a Chemex coffee carafe. Top it all off with a bag of beans and a pair of mugs from the San Francisco–based roaster, and your giftee will be bright eyed and bushy tailed enough to pen you a thank you note on the 26th.
Umbra Rinse Bowl and Strainer
Your buddy may have been lost to the culinary dark side, but that doesn’t mean he’s not the same guy who grew up playing sword fights with you in the backyard. Indulge his inner child with this murdered-out bowl and strainer from Canadian designer Umbra. Looking like the helm of a knight lost in feudal Japan, this ninja-like bowl has a hinged strainer attachment that’s been engineered to roll over for easy prepping, cleaning and draining. Considering how soft he’s gotten watching all those reruns of Good Eats, it’ll be good for him to get some badass back into his kitchen.
Though we don’t have any scientific evidence to back this up, we’re fairly certain it’s 100% impossible to enjoy regular condiments once you’ve become a food geek. You can’t just have grape jelly, syrup or mayonnaise anymore; it has to be preserves and real maple syrup. If you’re having mayo, it better be craft mayo, not Kraft mayo. With flavors and descriptions like “raspberry whiskey chipotle” (preserves), “lime pickle” (mayo), and “versatile and dynamic” (real maple syrup), these gourmet toppers should easily satisfy your food lover’s desire for delicious and unique. However, we can’t guarantee it won’t also check off the box for eye rolls and head shaking.