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Holiday Gift Ideas for Chefs 2006

By Erin Hollingsworth
December 2006

In the sometimes artful, sometimes innovative and sometimes utilitarian world of the kitchen tool and gadget, certain perennial favorites immediately come to mind. Pastry Chefs like Hichem Lahreche of Kinkead’s and Tom Wellings of Maestro cannot live without their small offset spatulas. Flexible, slatted fish spatulas are indispensable for most chefs, including Tony Chittum of Dish and Notti Bianche, and the ubiquitous Vita-Prep mixer is the quintessential workhorse of the modern restaurant kitchen. Making sure every chef in your life has these essentials, this year consider fortifying their collections with beautiful classics, forgotten and overlooked treasures and interesting plateware.

Cutting Board On StarChefs.comCustom Cutting Boards are a useful and personalized gift for anyone. Chef Bart Vandaele of Belga Café cites his cutting board as one of his favorite kitchen tools. Every chef needs one and you can always use an extra. Why not purchase a custom wooden cutting board, cut to any dimensions you desire at Customcuttingboard.com or a monogrammed board from Williams-Sonoma?

Meat Grinder on StarChefs.comMeat Grinders make an excellent gift this year with custom seafood and Andouille sausages, pâtés and terrines so prevalent in restaurants. And, you can purchase them in any size at any price point. Chef Cathal Armstrong of Restaurant Eve swears by his, adding an old-world touch to new-world cuisine. Choose a fully functional, yet slightly whimsical antique grinder on eBay, or a great, modern version at just about any department store.

Funky or Unusual Molds and Containers add lots of fun to tried-and-true favorites and nouveau cuisine alike. Pastry Chef Heather Chittum of Dish and Notti Bianche seeks creative inspiration from The Container Store, using not just their “kitchen” containers, but all-kinds to spark new and bold presentations. She lines her favorite containers with acetate and then uses them as molds for chocolates and mousses. These interesting boxes are a perfect way to display holiday truffles and petit fours.

Cedar Wood planks and chips for grilling and smoking impart a rustic and deep flavor to everything ranging from fish and meat to fruit and lentils. Barton Seaver of Café St. Ex and Bar Pilar loves his wood grill for the amazing flavors it provides food and the simplicity in preparation it affords. Chef Josh Dechellis of Sumile uses cedar paper, available at any Japanese stationary store and packaged beautifully, to flavor fish such as tuna cheeks. He grinds and burns the paper and infuses liquid with it, creating a whole realm of new potential flavor profiles. Perhaps your chef already has a wood grill, maybe you’re not willing to buy him one this year, either way, cedar makes a great affordable gift perfect for any chef, and you can find it just about anywhere.

Joyce Chen Scissors on StarChefs.comJoyce Chen Scissors are a great alternative to the somewhat predictable knife gift. Ryan Poli of Butter recommends them as they’re strong and durable enough to cut through fish, lamb and chicken, but delicate and precise enough to cut herbs. They stay sharp, are durable but light, and won’t break the bank. Find them on Amazon.com or JB Prince.

Editors Pick: Sleek Flatware and Plateware by Chefs Ferran Adria of El Bulli and Grant Achatz of Alinea. Knives designed for the specific purpose of eating foam give you an idea of what to find throughout Adria Faces collection. Achatz’ line, designed with Martin Kastner, brings the playful, sculpture-like food delivery and presentation systems he’s known for at Alinea to your home. You can find these items at Crucialdetail.com and the Faces line is available at Le Sanctuaire in Santa Monica, California.