I’ve put together a short Gift Guide for the 2017 Holiday Season that’s loaded with everything from everyday essentials to the most coveted items every foodie needs in their life.

As usual, everything you see here is something that I personally love, use on a daily basis, or have been lusting over. I’ve tried to stay mindful of different budgets and selected items that are available online, mostly through Amazon, since it’s the easiest (and usually cheapest) way to shop IMHO.

Though I am a staunch advocate of shopping local, I wanted this gift guide to resonate with the largest audience possible. After all, not everyone is able to head to ELXR Juice Lab in Toronto to grab a six-pack of their cold-pressed juices!

Now go forth, and shop ’till you drop! At which point get coffee and keep shopping because someone has to stimulate the economy and it might as well be you!

Slice and Dice

(from bottom left, clockwise)

  1. OXO Metal Tongs: Ditch the dollar store variety and invest in a proper pair of tongs. Look for something with a silicon grip, scalloped edges and a rolled underside so as to avoid accidentally pinching your skin during use.
  2. Miyabi 6” MCT6000 Gyutoh: A Japanese knife is the Holy Grail item for just about every self-respecting cook; domestic or professional. If properly maintained, regularly honed, and occasionally sharpened, a Japanese chef’s knife will last an eternity. Note that stainless steel requires less maintenance than carbon steel but the metal is not as hard and, therefore, not as sharp. This knife actually makes dicing, slicing, julienne-ing and shiffonade-ing fun.
  3. A wooden spoon: Preferably one that belonged to your grandmother and is older than you. Extra points if it was used to threaten you into doing your homework as a child.
  4. A great vegetable peeler: Look for Japanese or Swiss made that is lightweight with a broad handle and wide blade. At under $10 it is one of the best kitchen investments you can make.
  5. Opinel folding knife: carry it with you everywhere. From slicing an apple at a picnic to foraging for mushrooms, it should never leave your side.
  6. Zwilling 4-Star 8” chef’s knife: You’ll need a heavy-duty knife for larger and tougher foods like squash, sweet potatoes and just about all other root vegetables.
  7. Microplane zester: the industry standard for zesting any citrus. Also makes easy work of ginger, garlic, horseradish and just about anything else you want in your vinaigrettes.
  8. OXO Julienne peeler: effortlessly julienne vegetables in the blink of an eye. Great for anyone who is not yet fully committed to the spiralizer life but wants to know what a zucchini noodle tastes like.
  9. Fish spatula: Even if you don’t eat fish, this extra-thin spatula is a must-have for flipping delicate foods such as pesky veggie burgers.

ALTERNATIVE BREWING

(front to back)

1. Bialetti 6 cup Mocha Express:

Often imitated, never duplicated. Bialetti’s are the benchmark for stovetop espresso makers.

It’s easy to use, clean and brews a very enjoyable pot of espresso. It can be used on electric, radiant or gas heat.

Considering most Bialetti’s are passed from generation to generation, it’s a steal at under $30. With the money you save on the machine you can enjoy freshly roasted beans from your favourite local café!

2. Glass French Press

Add freshly ground beans and hot water, let it steep for 4 minutes, press down and enjoy. Quite possibly the easiest manual coffee maker and with tons of models readily available for around $20, it might be the most affordable.

3. Six Cup Classic Chemex Coffeemaker:

An elegant hourglass design accented with a handsome wooden collar and leather tie, it is as much a statement piece as a coffee maker.

Unlike the French Press, the Chemex requires a more hands-on approach. The entire process can take up to 15 minutes if you grind your own beans. However, considering the fact that it brews one of the smoothest cups of coffee you can imagine, it’s well worth the effort.

Bonus: It can also double as teapot or flower vase!

The 6-cup model goes for $43.95 at SurlaTable.com

4. Stainless Steel French Press:

Stainless steel presses work exactly the same as glass versions except the double-wall, steel construction is virtually indestructible and keeps your coffee warmer for longer.

The one pictured is by Starbucks and discontinued but any stainless steel model will do.

For a budget version, try this one by Kuissentialwhich sells for just over $20.

If you’re looking for something a bit more design-forward, this ceramic model by Yield Design is what you want! It retails for $120 but at the time of writing this article (late-Nov 2017), it was on sale for $84 from OneKingsLane.com.

 

The Pen is Mightier than the Sword

(front to back)

1. Whole30 Fast and Easy:

Delicious recipes, mouth-watering food photography, and everything is either fast or easy! What more could you ask for in a cookbook?

Oh yeah, I also happen to be a recipe contributor in the book!

2. Glass French Press

Add freshly ground beans and hot water, let it steep for 4 minutes, press down and enjoy. Quite possibly the easiest manual coffee maker and with tons of models readily available for around $20, it might be the most affordable.

3. Six Cup Classic Chemex Coffeemaker:

An elegant hourglass design accented with a handsome wooden collar and leather tie, it is as much a statement piece as a coffee maker.

Unlike the French Press, the Chemex requires a more hands-on approach. The entire process can take up to 15 minutes if you grind your own beans. However, considering the fact that it brews one of the smoothest cups of coffee you can imagine, it’s well worth the effort.

Bonus: It can also double as teapot or flower vase!

The 6-cup model goes for $43.95 at SurlaTable.com

4. Stainless Steel French Press:

Stainless steel presses work exactly the same as glass versions except the double-wall, steel construction is virtually indestructible and keeps your coffee warmer for longer.

The one pictured is by Starbucks and discontinued but any stainless steel model will do.

For a budget version, try this one by Kuissentialwhich sells for just over $20.

If you’re looking for something a bit more design-forward, this ceramic model by Yield Design is what you want! It retails for $120 but at the time of writing this article (late-Nov 2017), it was on sale for $84 from OneKingsLane.com.

 

The Splurge

Vitamix blender:

There’s a reason why the Vitamix has appeared on my gift guide two years in a row. It’s the best – no ifs, ands or buts.

I now own three models (Ascent 2300, Ascent 3500, S780) two of which were sent to me for various collaborations with the brand. However, I can assure you that I would neither partner with Vitamix nor recommend their products if I did not personally love and believe in their value.

Gifting a Vitamix blender is not exactly cheap so this is a great opportunity to team up with family or friends. Rest assured though, you are giving a gift that will not only be regularly used but may encourage living a more healthy lifestyle.

POTS & PANS

The short list of essential cookware (from left to right)

  • Staub Round Cocotte: A large French Oven/Cocotte. Use it for soups, stews, braising, roasting, and anything in between. Staub cocotte’s have signature lids that funnel moisture down onto the food inside, which helps keep things moist and delicious.
  • Zwilling Aurora Stainless Steel Fry Pan: Use it for sautéing or even blanching long veggies like asparagus. Look for one that is heavy-bottomed with a solid handle.
  • Ballarini Rialto Non-stick Frying Pan: The industry test for a non-stick skillet is to fry an egg in it. The vegan equivalent might be a pancake. Look for one that is PFOA and Nickel free.
  • Baumalu Copper Sauce Pot: Along with a cast-iron skillet, copper is one of the few pieces of cookware that gets better with age. It evenly distributes heat, develops a beautiful patina with each use and is easy to maintain. Restore its luster by gently scrubbing it with a mixture of lemon juice and salt.
  • Lodge Cast-iron skillet: Use it to sear just about anything. It requires the most maintenance of any pan but if properly taken care of can last several generations.