If you need some gift ideas for that special home cook in your life, you’ve come to the right place! Just like I did back in 2016, I’ve put together a short Gift Guide with what I consider to be kitchen essentials for even the most discerning foodie. The items I’ve selected are ones that I love, use on a daily basis, or have been lusting over. I’ve tried to be mindful of different budgets and look for gifts that are available online, mostly through Amazon, since it’s the easiest way to shop IMHO. Some of these items are available in stores, but that will depend on where you live in the world! 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)

  • 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 $50. With the money you save on the machine you can enjoy freshly roasted beans from your favorite local café.
  • Glass French Press: Add freshly ground beans and hot water, let it steep for 4 minutes, press and enjoy. Quite possibly the easiest manual coffee maker and with a variety of models readily available for around $20, it might be the most affordable.
  • 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. It can also double as teapot or flower vase!
  • Stainless Steel French Press: Exactly the same as the glass version except the double-wall stainless steel construction is virtually indestructible and keeps your coffee warmer for longer.

THE SPLURGE

Vitamix blender : It doesn’t have to be the 780 model pictured here, but a Vitamix blender makes a fantastic gift for anyone that will actually use it. Most blenders aimlessly sit atop counters until they are condemned to storage limbo, only to be used during the first week of New Year’s resolutions. For the rest of us, a quality blender can make cooking easy and enjoyable. Effortlessly blend together daily smoothies, weeknight soups, homemade nut butters and everything in between. Vitamix blenders are built to last and are the industry standard. However, if you think the recipient won’t use it regularly, get them a much more affordable blender from Walmart where the return policy is more forgiving.

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.