Features Chef Gifts 2009
Chef Gifts 2009
December 2009

This year some of the biggest culinary trends were in mixology and sustainability. With that in mind, it’s time to think outside the box for gifts your chef friends and loved ones will actually want. Our annual guide covers the bases with fun yet practical gifts for the busy cook to use behind and away from the line. And don't worry, we've kept your wallet in mind—gifts range from a few dollars to $60.

Behind the Bar
This was the year of the cocktail. So whether you’re getting a present for a mixologist or a chef, a liquid-focused gift will be appreciated. The cornerstone of any good bar is quality ingredients, so think about giving the gift of top shelf liquor, like Highland Park Single Malt Whisky ($40 for 750 ml).

Mixologist Tony Conigliaro says that good ice is his favorite “tool,” and cocktail lovers everywhere have gotten serious about ice this year. Spherical ice cube trays ($16) allow you to make sphere-shaped ice cubes that melt at a much slower rate, meaning they cool your cocktail without diluting it. Another alternative are whiskey stones ($19.95 for 9), nonporous cubes made from natural soapstone that get your cocktails cold without diluting them or imparting flavor.

Once you’ve selected your ice, there’s the question of shaken or stirred. Mixologist Jamie Boudreau of Vessel in Seattle told us that his favorite bar tool is the stirring rod (from $4) because “There's something particularly soothing about ice joined in a circular dance all the while whispering a tinkling melody. Shaking,” he says, “is greatly overused these days.”

Tony Abou-Ganim of The Modern Mixologist says that his favorite bar tool is a TAG Bar lime squeezer ($20) because “Lime is the most fragile of all citrus and should be squeezed a la minute.” A number of mixologists we asked, including Christy Pope, Chad Solomon, and Audrey Saunders, said a jigger was their favorite bar tool. Instead of the tired old jigger everyone has, get your mixology-loving friends a jigger cube ($24), which was inspired by traditional box-shaped Japanese sake cups and has six liquid measurements in one stylish tool.

Gifts For the Chef Behind the Bar
Highland Park Single Malt Whisky
Spherical ice cube trays ($16)
whiskey stones ($19.95 for 9)
jigger cube ($24)
TAG Bar lime squeezer ($20)

In the Kitchen: Practical
Time after time chefs tell us their favorite kitchen tool is a spoon. Try iSi’s silicone utility spoon ($9.99). Another practical gift that pastry chefs love is a Beaterblade ($34), an attachment for stand mixers that continually scrapes the bowl as it mixes so you don’t have to.

Help the tech-savvy chefs in your life protect their laptops in the kitchen with a laptop skin cover ($16.95). And for the chef looking for a way to spice up his/her presentation, or to experiment with a new mode of cooking (they can go right on a stove-top burner without melting), try out Salt Plates and Bricks ($18.75 - $30) made from slabs of salt mined from the Himalayas.

Practical Gifts For the Chef in the Kitchen
iSiís silicone utility spoon ($9.99)
Beaterblade ($34)
laptop skin cover ($16.95)
Salt Plates and Bricks

For the Green Chef
More and more chefs are doing their part to help the environment. Support the ecologically-minded chef in your life by keeping their gifts green.

Help the environment and feed their caffeine addiction with an eco-friendly reusable coffee cup that looks like a to-go cup ($20). Or get them a Sigg metal reusable water bottle ($15) to help them stay hydrated on the job.

An increasing number of restaurants and chefs have started their own farms, gardens, or windowsill herb plants. But not everyone has that luxury of space and time, so for those who make weekly trips to the farmer’s market, get them reusable nylon bags ($5.85) to haul their goods back to the kitchen.

And for those chefs who want to support their local famers without getting their hands dirty, consider getting them a share in their local community supported agriculture (CSA) program (prices vary). Help them preserve that seasonal produce—whether they’ve grown it or bought it—with a start-up canning set ($12.99).

To educate and entertain, there have been a number of highly successful culinary-minded documentaries that are now available on DVD. Leading the pack are Food, Inc. ($13.49), about the costs of putting value and convenience over nutrition and environmental impact) and Food Matters ($24.95, about the importance of food and nutrition in our health). Lesser known but still worthwhile DVDs to stuff this year’s stockings are Fresh ($29.95) King Corn ($15.96), and PolyCultures: Food Where We Live ($20).

Gifts For the Green Kitchen
reusable coffee cup that looks like a to-go cup ($20)
reusable nylon bags ($5.85)
canning set ($12.99)
Food, Inc. ($13.49)
King Corn ($15.96)

starchefs chefs to know second editionChefs to Know
Not to toot our own horn, but we consider Chefs to Know, A Guide to Chefs for Chefs ($24.95) to be one of the best chef gifts out there. Yes, we publish it; but bias aside, this 900 page tome is a look at the players shaping food, desserts, cocktails and wine across America (and a few abroad as well), and is the only one of its kind. Check out all of our great products, including books and DVDs from the International Chefs Congress, here.