Buying gifts for the home cook in your life can be difficult. Sure it seems easy enough to guess what they’d like: a set of knives, a meat thermometer, a whole bunch of Mason jars for storing sauces… It’s intuitive, right? Wrong. Chefs are a finicky bunch and the more serious they are the more they crave top-notch products to match their skills.
In an effort to save you from the home chef in your life (you don’t want to disappoint a home chef, it affects your diet!), we decided to hit up the experts to get some great last-minute gift options. Some of these picks are old classics from our previous Chef’s Tell Us series but we added a good chunk of new choices from a few of our favorite new chefs and food personalities leaving you with plenty of picks, most of which can come overnight via Amazon or found at brick and mortar stores.
Let’s get shopping!
Chef Charleen Caabay, Chopped Winner at Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer at the People’s Ecosystem —— Lēvo II Cannabis Infuser
As a chef who creates cannabis-infused recipes, the LĒVO II is an exciting kitchen-related tool that makes an excellent gift for other chefs. The LĒVO II provides home cooks with different ways to infuse coconut oil, grapeseed oil, butter, honey, and more, with any herb of their choice. Additionally, it eliminates the guesswork regarding dosing, providing accuracy and efficiency.
I personally love entertaining people through food and cannabis, and this would be a great way to show others how to cook incredible infused dishes.
Eric Wareheim, Comedian & Author Of FOODHEIM: A Culinary Adventure
When I’m cooking from my cookbook Foodheim, I always start the meal with a glass of champagne. And the ONLY proper way to open a bottle is to use a saber! Made In’s beautiful saber does the trick every time. Just tell mom and dad to watch out when sabering indoors.
Mike Glazer, Comedian, Host of Weed & Grub
Everyone needs a Microplane! It’s incredibly versatile and way less cumbersome than the tiny blades on the side of a box grater. Microplanes are crucial tools for appetizers, dinners, and desserts. You can zest citrus into your key lime pie recipe or your bright, rich lemon butter Mahi Mahi. Mince garlic into a powerful punchy paste perfect for guacamole, finely shave chocolate so it drifts down onto whipped cream dark chocolate mousse to serve your lover dessert in bed. C’mon!
The Microplane is an undeniable tool that fits perfectly in any Christmas stocking or under the tree. And if your friend or family member already has one, chances are it is dull and the blades are bent so your gift will be perfectly timed. My recommendation: Sur La Table’s Microplane Soft-Handle Zester Grater, 12″ is only $15.95 and with 8 colors to choose from, you can’t beat it for home cooking.
Chef Priyank Naik, Food Network Champion, Author Of The Modern Tiffin — Cookbooks
The Modern Tiffin: On-The-Go Vegan Dishes with a Global Flair by Priyanka Naik
The Modern Tiffin is written by a woman who loves food as much as she loves cooking, as much as she loves travel, and as much as she loves animals. That woman is me – Priyanka Naik! This book is more than just a cookbook – it is a journey through my life of travels and as a first-generation Indian American growing up in NYC. The Modern Tiffin satisfies anyone from the amateur cook to the professional cook with recipes like Coconut Masala Stuffed Okra, Masala Chickpea Bruschetta and Almond Tahini Cake with Pistachio & Rose.
Every chapter focuses on a different part of the world that I’ve traveled to so you can take a full global journey right in your kitchen! My mission with The Modern Tiffin is to bring my generation and generations younger back to into the kitchen, become more involved with cooking, learn about the versatility of vegetables and the importance of cooking for oneself (all while having the option to make it portable!). This cookbook makes a fantastic gift for anyone looking to incorporate more vegan dishes in their day-to-day (flextarians LOVE my book – just sayin’!), anyone looking for an adventure, and anyone looking to get a good laugh (I swear, I’m hilarious).
Provecho: 100 Vegan Mexican Recipes to Celebrate Culture and Community by Edgar Castrejón
Vibrant, Accessible, and Culturally significant Mexican recipes – this is how I reviewed Provecho on Amazon and I wholeheartedly stand by it! Edgar is masterful at bringing together his Mexican heritage, culture, and his empathy for the environment. His book is beautifully written and even though I personally have traveled to Mexico several times, I learned SO much from Provecho. Edgar’s recipes leave me feeling hungry – especially the Quesadilla de Plátanos, which I will be making next! I highly recommend this book for anyone who is looking to learn the intricacies, history, and flavors of Mexican culture and cuisines. Not to mention, Edgar (like me) is a first-time chef, proud Latino LGBTQ, and one of the kindest foodies I know!
The Korean Vegan: Reflections and Recipes from Omma’s Kitchen by Joanne Lee Molinaro
If you haven’t heard of The Korean Vegan by now, you surely must be living under a rock like Patrick Star. Joanne started the art of storytelling while cooking on TikTok in early 2020 and since then has become an absolute superstar – but is as modest as ever (and I can say that for a fact considering we became fast friends). Her debut cookbook The Korean Vegan is a reflection of recipes she grew up eating, but veganified. They are stunning and all of the photography is done by Joanne herself – can she get any cooler?!
There are so many recipes I enjoyed here – Perilla Leaf Focaccia, Perilla Leaf Pancakes (clearly I have a thing for Perilla leaves), Braised Tofu – and so much more. Joanne’s book is more than just recipes – it’s a glimpse into her life, her later-found appreciation for her culture and especially of her parents. As someone who is incredibly close to their parents, I really appreciated that. So, if you’re looking to incorporate some delicious and accessible Korean dishes into your repertoire, The Korean Vegan is for you!
Life Is What You Bake It: Recipes, Stories, and Inspiration to Bake Your Way to the Top by Vallery Lomas
Vallery has one of THE most interesting stories in the culinary industry – I may be biased because we’re friends BUT – Vallery went from being a lawyer to a baker and was ABC’s Great American Baking Show Winner Season 3, which never aired! That is possibly a new cook and new TV star’s worst nightmare. But the beauty in Life Is What You Bake It is how Vallery took her rather less than satisfactory situation and turned it into a heartfelt work of art in her debut cookbook. It is filled with 100 mouthwatering baked goods and for someone like me who has zero self control around sweets — yeah — I was drooling at every page. Just listen to these — Peach Crisp, Chocolate Cream Filled Doughnuts, and A Very Dramatic Crêpe Cake (obviously I am here for the drama). Vallery has a French-trained background, is incredibly well-traveled and is a fantastic baker.
Get this book for the baker or that sweet lover in your life.
Chef Nikki Steward, CEO and Head Chef The High-End Affair
The Always Pan
One of the things that’s a dope idea for a gift is a pan called the Always Pan. The Always Pan is designed to replace eight traditional pieces of cookware. It literally is a fry pan, a skillet, a sauce pan, a steamer, a sautée pan, it’s non stick, it’s all of the things. You can do tons with it. It’s a really cute and dope pan, it comes in a bunch of dope colors, really pretty earth tones.
A vacuum sealer is always a good idea to have. Cuts down on waste, always have a vacuum sealer, especially if you have a Sous Vide device at home!
Spices — Artisan Salts, International Spices
Weird Spices, a collection of artisan salts, different international spices, Things you can’t get at a regular grocery store. I like to always gift people different collections, there are a lot of different vibes you can go with International seasonings. Smoked salts and artisan salts are always a good idea.
A Coffee Grinder
“A coffee grinder for spices. Sometimes you get whole spices and you have to grind them, they’re really good fresh.”
Nice Platewear And A Go-Pro Camera w/ Headband
Home chefs and Cooks are really into photographing and styling food for pictures. A really good set of plate wear that has dope edges, very white, or very black plate wear is always a cool thing to film on.
A go pro with the headband is also always a good idea, you may want to film the process of making your food and then transfer that into a video.
Kevin Nashan, Chef and Owner, Sidney Street Cafe and Peacemaker Lobster & Crab (St. Louis, MO) — KoMo Classic Grain Mill
I’ve got my eye on the electric KoMo Classic Grain Mill I’ve been seeing in my Instagram feed lately. It’s handmade in Austria with ceramic burrs and an attractive wooden housing, sort of classic elegance meets modern technology. You can grind a small amount of grain to any texture, including super-fine, and you can easily change the grind by rotating the hopper on top. I’d love to play around with milling locally grown grains like farro for a special pasta flour. It’s easy to take apart and clean, and there’s even a liner insert if you’re grinding gluten-free flour.
Mickey Neely, Executive Chef, The Moonlighter (Chicago, IL) — Garcima Paella Pan
The tool I’ve had the most fun with this year, by far, is my paella pan. The brand is Garcima. It’s carbon steel, which means it has to be washed, dried and oiled after each use. It was inexpensive, easy to clean and maintain. Mine is the 20″ carbon steel pan and I got it off of Amazon for less than $50. I’ve served from 8 to 30 people with it, and they get STOKED when I bring it to the table. I’ve mostly made Paella on the grill with it, but have made Arroz Negro a couple of times, too.
Brian Riggenbach, Partner and Executive Chef, The Mockingbird (Nashville, TN) — Cookware Gift Card
I would say that one of the best gifts for a chef would be a gift card to a local cookware store, somewhere close to where you live so that you can go in and test the knives in person (Nashville’s go-to place for us is Davis Cookware & Cutlery Shop). So much goes into a knife, and at the end of the day, it is a very personal and intimate experience. The feel of the blade, the weight, balance, sharpness, and grip are quite variable and very personal to each individual. I have a penchant for Japanese knives, Miyabi and Kamikoto, but again, to each their own. Since you spend so much of your time cutting and holding a knife, this is a natural extension that you need to have the most comfort and ease using. This offers the end user a better experience, ease of use, and more precision in both their craft and employment. This should go in conjunction with a nice sharpening stone set, because the sharper the knife the less you cry!
David Caceres, Chef, La Panadería (San Antonio, TX) — A Cutting Board
A wooden cutting board is a must in a well-stocked kitchen. Not only are they a beautiful addition to a kitchen, but they are a more sustainable option than plastic and have natural anti-microbial properties. They can also last decades if cared for properly. As a baker, I, personally enjoy boards with crumb catchers that are meant for cutting bread, but either way they are a timeless kitchen staple.
Cody and Samantha Carroll, Chefs, Hot Tails (New Orleans, LA) — HDC Walnut Cutting Board
A custom cutting board is always a great gift. Cutting boards don’t last forever and will always wear down with time. Chefs are always using multiple cutting boards in their home kitchen. My husband Cody and I are always excited when we get a gift and it is something custom made by a craftsman that tells a story! P.S. don’t buy them a knife. Chefs are picky about knives because of how they fit in their hands – unless it’s a custom-made Bob Kramer. Also adding a link to our favorite cutting board: HDC Walnut Cutting Board.
Chef Isaac Toup, Chef and Owner, Toups’ Meatery and Toups South (New Orleans, LA) — Spiceology Spices
Spiceologist Spices are a great gift for any chef. Using fresh spices will change your cooking world. Spices lose their flavor quickly, and there’s no telling how long those in the grocery store have been sitting on the shelf. But a good spice company makes sure they’re fresh. I recommend stuffing stockings with smoked paprika.
Michael Pirolo, Executive Chef, Macchialina — A Gift Certificate To Korin (Miami Beach, FL)
I am a firm believer in the power of a nice set of knives and quality kitchenware that’s built to last. My favorite gift to give and receive as a chef is a gift certificate to Korin – an amazing kitchenware store stationed in NYC that specializes in Japanese knives. Korin is located in the heart of lower Manhattan offering the finest knives, kitchen products, and tableware to suit every culinary tradition. I feel these knives and kitchenware products truly bring the highest quality Japanese design to any table, so anyone into cooking and or entertaining can experience the quality of Japanese craftsmanship in their kitchen, home or even restaurant.
Chef Ronnie Jariyawiriya — Buffalo Horn Hand Blue Steel Damascus Gyuto
Every chef that works in a bustling kitchen will agree that the best gift that you can give to a chef, especially during the holidays, is a fun-filled, phones-off, 3-day paid vacation so he/she can cook for unappreciative relatives while drinking heavily; but sadly, we all know that will never happen. So, my go-to gift for any chef, self-proclaimed or professionally trained is a really good knife. There are so many custom knife craftsmen nowadays that are more affordable now than they’ve been. The best places to find good, affordable knives are on eBay and Amazon (as long as you know what you want). Personally, I recommend a custom Buffalo horn handle blue steel Damascus Gyuto.
Chef Stephen Ullrich — Sharpening Stone
While there can be an exhaustive list written of kitchen tools that I consider essential and therefore great gifts, I would definitely start with a sharpening stone. Quite frankly this is the single most important facet of cooking is utilizing a very sharp knife. Learning to sharpen can be frustrating but my recommendation is to watch a lot of YouTube and buy a cheap knife and practice on it. Too many home cooks, I find, have these nice knives they bought but never sharpen them, and they become useless and dangerous.
Jim Pastor, Executive Chef, Rusty Pelican (Key Biscayne, FL) — KitchenAid Mixker
Considering all the gifts I’ve received over the years, I would have to say that the KitchenAid mixer would be the best. Why? Well because it gives me, as a chef, the ability to do restaurant-quality dishes at home. Sometimes we don’t have the arsenal of gadgets that we have at the restaurant but with a Kitchen Aid’s help that changes. We can roll fresh pasta quickly, grind meat for sausages, or even make ice cream! While it is a bit expensive it’s worth the initial investment and something that will last you for a very long time.
Raul A. Del Pozo— Executive Chef, Novikov — Thermomix
If I were to choose the gift of all gifts, it would have to be a Thermomix. I remember the day when one of the company representatives gave us a demo. She dropped three whole nutmeg into the unit and within seconds it was pulverized into a powder! To know that a machine can heat and cool itself, while still having the capability of grinding anything imaginable absolutely fascinates me. The Thermomix is so versatile that you can toast spices, make soup, bread and create velvet textured purees, airs, and mousses.
Fabio Viviani, Owner and Executive Chef, Siena Tavern (Chicago, IL) — KitchenAid Spiralizer
I suggest a KitchenAid spiralizer because you can do so much with it! All you have to do is attach it to your stand mixer and you can do everything with this guy—peel carrots, core apples, you name it! Plus, this spiralizer also makes veggie ribbons and I love mixing them into my pasta dishes.
Tracy Chang, Chef and Owner of PAGU — Spanish Olive Oil (Cambridge, MA)
One of the best gifts for a chef is excellent Spanish olive oil. At PAGU we use La Laguna de Fuente de Piedra’s Videuña olive oil for finishing a lot of dishes such as the avocado ikura pintxo, shiitake a la plantxa, pan con jamón, mushroom mazemen, etc. I’m always excited when people gift me Spanish olive oil. I use it every day, it’s good for me, and I’m reminded of that person each time I use it.
Navjot Arora, Chef and Owner Of Chutney Masala (Irvington, NY) — Mortar And Pestle
A traditional stone mortar and pestle would be the ideal gift, as this is one tool that can take a chef back to his or her roots. The simple joy of making a chutney, or a curry paste without using any modern-day heavy-duty blenders can be a very soothing way to reconnect with the joy of making food. I’d recommend a stone mortar & pestle over a metal one because it can be used to make chutneys and pastes, as well as to prepare freshly ground spices. The metal version is really only usable for spices. A few delicious items the chef could prepare include mint-cilantro chutney or curry leaf-garlic chutney.
Perry Pollaci ,Chef, Firefly (Studio City, CA) — Nespresso Machine
As a chef and a new (ish) father, I’m constantly on the go. From late nights at the restaurant to early morning with my son, coffee is a must in my life. On my wish list is a Nespresso Machine for my house. I love the variety of flavors, and it’s fast and easy to clean. When I’m at Firefly, I utilize a French press with Lavazza and steep it with cinnamon to enrich the aroma and taste. Any chef would welcome a gift involving strong coffee or something caffeinated.
Vlad Ahmadyarov, Executive Chef, Windsor Court The Grill Room (New Orleans, LA) — A Sexy Knife
It seems like the obvious choice, but chefs are always looking for newer, better, sharper, sexier knives. Knives are to chefs what golf clubs are to golfers: essential tools that come in a variety of styles and shapes and also have very specific uses. Just like golf clubs, chef’s knives are constantly undergoing technological innovations to make them sturdier and more effective. And much like golfers, chefs are always looking for tools that will help them elevate their game. Global, Shun, and Wusthof are all popular brands with many kitchen professionals.
Jorge E. Ramos, Culinary Director Of Bodega Taqueria — Recipe Journal
The best gift for a chef would be a journal or a book. I think it is so important for chefs to take the time to document their stories and their lives. As a chef, I journal the food that I create and the inspiration I discover in my travels. For me, it offers the opportunity to learn, relate to other chefs, see other techniques that are being developed or practiced, and in the end, really shows a sign of support from the person who is gifting the journal.