My Gift Ideas for Cooks
The Game of Procrastination
My favorite holiday card ever showed a couple of turkeys dressed in ski gear and pom-pom hats, skis over their shoulders, smugly saying to a miserable pig burdened with shopping bags: Oh we finished our shopping in October!
I hate those turkeys. I’m that pig. Tell me you’re coming to visit in six months and I will immediately start planning what I’ll cook for you, writing ideas in my phone and on my bedside notepad. This is my idea of a good time. But shop for gifts? Every December I suddenly realize that I have done no shopping and that packages are once again going to cost a fortune to send across the country. Have you tried sending a book from New York City to Vancouver, Canada? Bring your smelling salts.
There’s a solution to this idiocy and you already know what it is. Whether the shipping is free or paid, it will be cheaper and a whole lot faster than waiting on line in real life. Healthier too, keeping you away from the coughing sneezing bleary-eyed masses who, like you, suddenly realized that the season of Festivus is here.
This is also the season of gift guide overload — and affiliate links, where a publication receives a percentage of sales made through the links. At The Cook’s Cook we do not carry affiliate links and we vet every brand and every product we mention. My list of gift ideas is not part of a paid promotion and the brands are unaware that I am including them.
Cut through the clutter
I hope this list will help you cut through the clutter coming into your Inbox. I can’t help you with ideas for sweaters, perfumes, or concert tickets, but I can give you ideas for the people you know who love to cook. I love kitchen products of all kinds and these are just a few ideas to get you going. Let me know what YOU like to give as gifts and I’ll make a note for next year.
I go to many trade shows that are open to industry professionals only. My favorites are the Summer Fancy Food Show, run by the Specialty Food Association (SFA), and the Inspired Home Show, held by the International Housewares Association (IHA).
Here are some products on my gift list:
The Inspired Home Show is held in Chicago every March.
The massive McCormick Convention Center hosts thousands of brands at the three-day event. The 2023 event was dazzling, overwhelming, inspired and inspiring. Some of my top gift picks are partners of The Cook’s Cook and you may see more of their products on our site. I do not receive extra compensation for these recommendations– they are my personal choices.
Every Cook Uses Bowls
Here’s why I love these Tovolo Stainless Steel Bowls with Lids. I had been looking for more than a year for the perfect mixing bowls for my kitchen. I wanted bowls that didn’t have a rubber or silicone bottom, so they would conduct heat or cold. I also wanted lightweight bowls. And what a bonus that these bowls also have rings for hanging and tightly-fitting lids.
For the Cook who has Everything
If you’re shopping for a cook who is sophisticated, or just interested in what’s new, get them a Peugeot Maestro Pepper Bar Gift Set. The set comes with three kinds of rare peppercorns and three interchangeable jars. The jars are easily switched so you can change the variety of pepper to suit your dish. Extra jars allow the cook to build a collection of peppercorns from around the world.
For the Plant-Based Cook
Whether you’re shopping for a vegan or an omnivore, you’ll want to give some thought to buying one of the exquisite Japanese Nakiri vegetable knives made by Shun. A very special gift, that will last a lifetime. The Shun razor-sharp PRO Asian Utility Knife, can be used for smashing garlic, shaving vegetables, and slicing meats, and is on sale for under $50.
For the baker
Pies and tarts are ideal holiday foods for serving and giving. The de Buyer Home Baking Box allows you to make as many as you like using only one removable ring. Place it on a baking sheet, add your crust and filling, and when the pie or tart is done, remove the ring and cool. Boxed for gift-gifting with a beechwood handled cake and pie server with a cutting edge.
The Summer Fancy Food Show is held in June in New York City.
At the last show I fell in love with Mochidoki mochi ice cream, which comes in gift sets that, incredibly, can be shipped and arrive still frozen. I really want to order their large party kit, if I can bring myself to share. Tea Forte, known for its charming pyramid infusers, has tea gift sets, tea chests, and tea tasting assortments. For someone who loves experimenting with spices, Spicewalla Gifts and Collections offers spiced finishing salts, kitchen essentials, and rubs in colorful containers and attractive packaging. Watch your favorite pastry chef’s eyes light up when you present them with a set of Nielsen-Massey vanillas. Their four vanilla extracts – Tahitian, Mexican, Indonesian, and Ugandan – differ in provenance, flavor, and recommended use, and are an ideal gift for a knowledgable baker. I know who I’m getting this one for.
For Your Favorite New Yorker
An old-fashioned egg cream – which, contrary to expectations, contains no egg or cream – is the iconic New York beverage. Originated in Brooklyn, it was once available in every luncheonette and sandwich shop. Brooklyn Seltzer Boys offers an egg cream kit that includes a T-shirt, bottle of U-Bet syrup, spoon, egg cream glass, and 1 working seltzer bottle.
For the Littlest Cook
If your child is ready for a sharp knife – and only you can determine that – the Opinel Le Petit Chef 3-piece set is a good way to introduce them to it. A circular ring on the knife and the peeler will let them hold the knife securely with their dominant hand, and a finger guard teaches the correct way to hold the fingers (curled under) with the other hand. My own children, now adults, started helping in the kitchen at an early age and one of them is now a well-regarded editor and food writer. You just never know.
Protect Little (and Big) Helping Hands
Even professional chefs have accidents in the kitchen. It’s bad enough if it occurs to you, but devastating to see a child injured. The best way to keep hands safe is to wear a cut-resistant glove on the hand that comes close to a moving sharp edge, whether a knife, slicer, or grater. The Microplane My Little Helper Glove Set has two food-grade cut-resistant gloves, one adult-sized and one child-sized. Set an example by wearing one as you demonstrate safety to your budding chef.
For the Imaginative Cook
You don’t have to be 21 or a drinker to use King Floyd’s Bitters. A creative cook can add a dash of Scorched Pear & Ginger Bitters to…what? A pear cake? Sweetened whipped cream? How about Orange Bitters in a caramel glaze? King Floyd’s Bitters include Chocolate, Wild Plum, Green Chile, Cherry Cacao, and more.Available in various sizes. flavor profiles, and price ranges.
Bagels, Babka, Black & White
If you’ve been invited to brunch, dinner, or a holiday party, the choices offered by Orwashers Bakery will let you bring the perfect house gift. Stunning chocolate-covered rainbow cookies, classic black-and-white cookies, artisanal breads, and, of course, babka, can all be sent to your door – or theirs – with free shipping.
Bacon Jam Because…Bacon
When I treat myself to pancakes or French toast, I like to have bacon too so I get to drag it through the maple syrup. TBJ Gourmet Uncured Bacon Jam with Maple Syrup combines those heavenly flavors in a form that lets you add it to sliders, mac n’ cheese, or wherever inspiration hits. Use it as a condiment on baked potatoes, or smear it on toasted bread and top with sharp cheddar and thinly sliced apple. TBJ Uncured Bacon Jam with Honey and Habanero makes a nice glaze for chicken wings or for serving with a cheese or charcuterie platter.
For the Cook Who Needs a Break
There are periods when even the most passionate cook needs a little time off. Burek is a flaky filled pastry, made with phyllo dough, that can be sweet or savory. Djerdan, a family-owned business, can ship a frozen beef and potato pie, cabbage spiral pie, potato rolls, sour cherry burek rolls, and sweet burek apple rolls, among many other mouthwatering choices.
What better treat for a busy cook than something wonderful made by someone else?
For the Love of Hot Sauce
We all know that person who wants hot sauce on everything. Surprise them with this trio of Komodo habanero sauces that are about much more than heat. Komodo Black is an award-winning sweet soy-based sauce, Komodo Red is sweet and spicy, and Komodo Gold is bold and spicy.
More Than a Cookbook
In Endangered Eating, culinary historian Sarah Lohman travelled the country, following the Slow Food USA Ark of Taste entries. From California to Hawaii, the Pacific Northwest to Navajo Nation, through the midwest and northeast, she interviewed shepherds, fishers, and farmers, scientists, historians, and activists, learning about our country’s distinct foodways and traditions. She highlights efforts to preserve local culinary traditions and rare, cherished foods such as wild rice, Navajo Churro ram, heirloom sugarcane, wild salmon, gumbo, and cider – before it’s too late.
For the Cook who Loves Baja Cuisine
Michael A. Gardiner’s cookbook Cali Baja Cuisine is built on the natural bounty of the region and the flavors the people love. Gorgeous photos illustrate seafood recipes like Ground Yellowtail Tacos and Puerto Nuevo-Style Lobster Roll Tortas. There are recipes for Pickled Jalapeno Chiles, Pink Pickled Onions, and Mexican Crema to serve with bacon-wrapped Polish kielbasa dressed with ancho-chipotle-mustard sauce. Recipes like Pork Carnitas with Preserved Lemon Salsa Verde illustrate the influence of Mediterranean cuisines on the food of Baja California and vice versa.