Oh dear! It is almost Christmas and you still haven’t bought gifts for your Chef friends or maybe just your friends who like to cook. If you have already…then no need to read this post, go and enjoy your Christmas Parties! If you haven’t… well with there are less than 2 weeks to Christmas, it is not too late! If you need inspiration for what to buy your cooking friends for Christmas, I have created a second list of gift ideas for chefs. It ranges from books to hardware, tools to text. The list below contains a great mix of gifts for techies, and old school book worms (like me). No matter their preference, I am sure this list can at least inspire some great ideas!
If you don’t think these are great ideas for gifts. Let me know! Maybe I can help recommend something more in tune to what type of chef your friend is. Everyone has their quirks. Some people prefer old school techniques and tools and others are first adopters, and need the new things now! The list below are some of my personal desires. It doesn’t mean they are the only gifts that exists. I also have another Christmas list to help out, just in case this one doesn’t provide enough information!
So let’s get started!
1. A Day off…or week
The first gift doesn’t even require any gift wrap! The only challenge is figuring out how to get your cook/chef friends to take a day off… I am sure you can’t go beg their bosses to let them take a week off, but that would be one of the first gifts most overworked chefs would want and can never get. Unless you can convince the entire restaurant to shut down for a night, I don’t see that happening. Nevertheless, it is a legit gift…that no chef ever gets. They might get Christmas off…but come Monday or Tuesday..they are back on.
The Joule is one of the newest versions of a home immersion circulators. Unlike the Polysci ones I used when I worked in fine dining. It has a super sexy and sleek design and is less than a foot long (11 inches). This offers amazing portability(which currently can’t be beat). You can use this tool to cook meat, vegetables, custards and more. It does not offer any form of tangible interface on the device itself. Instead, it operates through an App, both for Android and Apple. This can be used either through Bluetooth or WiFi. When cooking meats, it allows for several different versions of temperature control, this includes precise and visual (you can actually see a picture of how done a temperature is). There are also tons of videos on how to use the Joule on the ChefSteps website. All of them are very beautifully done and can really help you understand both how to use the tool and the sous vide technique. Also, they are planning on providing an API and software development kit. That means, they may soon offer the ability to program your own features. What would you add? If you are in programming, maybe you and the person you buy this for can work together to build some cool app! It really would make a great stocking stuffer!
Going back to my days at the Herbfarm, I remember using an ISI canistor for some pretty cool sauce work. Everything from hollandaise, scrambled eggs, hot foams, creams, etc. With this gift, a chef can really get creative. This isn’t just for making whip cream on your latte. Nope, this tool is pretty versatile. Pair it with the Joule, and you can do some pretty cool things. Check out some of these videos that Chefsteps has on the two. They really are a great pair of tools to get your creative juices flowing. I also have a lot of bad experiences with this tool…typically because of the stress of the moment. It can have air bubbles that mess up your platting in the middle of the rush. However, if this gift is just used at home, then it won’t matter! Your chef friend will just be using it for his or her fun dinner parties! You better get invited if you get them both the Joule and the ISI canister.
Do you or your friend like beautiful pictures? How about geek level explanations? Well if you said yes two those two questions. Then consider pre-ordering your Chef friend Modernist Bread. These books will make any sourdough loving yeast enthusiast happy. For those who haven’t read the original modernist, or at least stolen a glance here and there, these books are always amazing. It is basically the modern version of Escoffier Le Guide Culinaire. The first 5 book series covered savory and pastry. It was a compilation of all the greatest Chefs and their techniques broken down by science. This series promises the same level of detail and class.
The books will not be available until next year. They even make a quick joke about making sure your 2017 starts off well despite circumstances (eluding to Trump). It does have quiet a large price tag. However, if it is anything like the first edition of Modernist. It will offer a crazy amount of knowledge, technique and years of experience. So if your friend has been really good this Christmas and Holiday season, consider it as a gift…maybe the his or her gift for the next several Christmases..
I don’t know why I like these molds so much. Part of me thinks it is because they are so old school. Unlike all the modern equipment, you really can’t get much older than containers that hold things in the culinary world(no really, that was a huge step for man). Whether it was just clay containers that held grain, or that were used to bake…they made it possible for us to start storing food and thus settle down. Now before I go down some rabbit trail…let’s focus back on the cast iron mold.
They are great for so many things besides terrine(although that alone is a great use for them). We used to use them for breads, terrines, weights and pates! By weights, I don’t mean for working out. Whenever you need to flatter a braised piece of meet, these work amazing. They are dense and can be further filled with other objects to increase their weight.
Besides that, if you love classic recipes like Pate De Campagne it comes amazing out of this cherry red dish. Not that it has to be cherry red.
I have a huge thing for smoked anything. It goes back to culinary school. One of our final tests was a black box. If you have watched the show Chopped, you know the idea. You get a box, filled with ingredients, and you have to cook something based off those ingredients. I knew I wanted to smoke something in my dish. So I was happy when I saw some rainbow carrots (and I don’t remember what else). I just knew I was doing smoked carrot puree! This resulted in an amazing puree and a messed up half pan. If I would have had a nice smoker…I could have avoided a near ruined pan. The best part about getting either yourself, or your friend a smoker is one word…bacon. If you want to make a flavor of bacon, do it! Maple, mustard, dill, black pepper, you name it, you can make it! It is fun and really easy. After buying this gift for your friend, I am sure you will start getting some nice cured meats as gifts for the next few holiday seasons(I wouldn’t complain!).
I personally love really solid cook books that show good techniques(I am sure your Chef friends do too!). The Big Fat Duck cook book is an amazing display of both solid technique and easy instructions for chefs, and maybe what may appear slightly more complicated instructions for home cooks. Considering the level of food the Fat Duck does, the amount of detail they put into this book to help home cooks is amazing. I even found a blog of someone who went through and listed the equipment you will need and pictures of his attempts of the dishes! So you don’t have to be a chef to try to make some of these dishes.
If your friend is a Chef, they will really appreciate this book. Check out this video for their Black Forest Gateau.
Not only is it doable! It is tasty, and if you get this book for your friend…well, you can hint that the gift comes with the stipulation….that this cake must be made for you once a year.
I have always wanted a paella dish. When I first got really into cooking, this dish was the apogee of dishes. At least in my mind. Something about it seemed so magical. Maybe it was the crispy golden crust, the saffron, or maybe all the seafood. I am still not sure. I just know, it was this romantic dish. Truthfully…I have only been served one good paella… So having this pan would be great because it means a cook or chef can properly make paella. Sure, you can cheat and make it in a normal pan, but it never has the same effect when you share it with friends. Paella looks beautiful when you server it in this dish. It looks regal, as if the dish was going to be served for a king!
9. A Vacation to Italy, France, Germany…maybe just all of Europe(Kind of point #1)
This gift ties a little bit with gift #1…and a little extra. Most cooks and chefs only make minimum wage. Thus, the idea of traveling to Europe is far from possible. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t love to travel and experience some good food. Consider setting them up with a cool trip off to Europe for Christmas! Alright, maybe this is a small hope for myself! In all seriousness, maybe look into getting them out of the state. If they are from Seattle, try flying them to New York or San Fransisco. Let them experience some food outside of the Pacific Northwest or the East…or wherever they live for Christmas.
My final gift idea for this Christmas is a Meat grinder. Most chefs love making cured meat products (Charcuterie). Sausage is no exception. In order to do it properly, you need a grinder. There are recipes that say you can do it in the robocoup or other tools. But nothing does it like a meat grinder. Make sure you get a solid product. Like the one below. More metal is better. You want to make sure it can handle grinding meat and not crack. Always keep your pieces cold! Sausage making is a true art! It requires an understanding of seasoning, curing, emulsifying, and sometimes aging.
You could also grind meat for your famous burgers, or meatloaf! If you are an avid hunter, it is great when you have a lot of odds and ends. I have had my fair share of venison and wild deer sausage..or you could use the meat grinder and the cast iron terrine mold and grind some fresh pork and make yourself some pate!
I hope this list has given you a great start to your Christmas shopping. It can be really hard to shop for others, so maybe this list inspired you! If these gifts are not a good fit, or just out of your price range, feel free to ask for recommendations! Good luck out there, the malls get crazy around the holiday season!
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and It is almost New Years!
Tags: Best Christmas Gifts; Christmas Gifts For Chefs; Chefs; Buy; Ideas for Gifts; Ideas for friends; Chef Life