Time may be running out for everyone but Santa Claus, but Grub Street has some ideas for the procrastinators among us. We spoke with food professionals all over the country — chefs, sommeliers, bartenders, and pastry chefs — to see what they want to find under the tree. And what’s good enough for these notable food professionals is sure to be a delight for your own enthusiastic amateur.
“I’m a fan of the brown liquid. I like to drink whiskey neat and on the rocks. For my home, I’d really like this Spherical Ice Tray Set ($16) to make my ‘rocks.’”
—Jose Garces, Amada, Tinto, Village Whiskey, Chifa, Distrito in Philly; Mercat a la Planxa in Chicago
“The new Nespresso machine ($329.99) is very cool, with the side frother that froths your milk for you.”
—John Cuevas, Montage in Beverly Hills
“I want a Yarai mixing glass ($49.95). Remember when you were a kid and you told your mom that those new sneakers would make you run faster? Well, this mixing glass will make my drinks taste better. I don’t know how, but it will. It’s science, I guess.”
—Colin Shearn, the Franklin in Philadelphia
“If I could afford it, for the bar, there’s one thing I’d love to have: It’s one of those ice machines (priced on request) that makes perfect square ice cubes. But our small little place, just four bartenders who opened a bar, we can’t afford that. That would be something Santa could bring me, and I would just love him to death.”
—Trina Sturm, Trina’s Starlite Lounge, Somerville, Massachusetts
A new Microplane grater ($14.95), which I use for zesting. Mine won’t even zest butter. It’s kind of a joke, that our Microplane is so dull.
—Chrysta Wilson, Kiss My Bundt, Los Angeles
“The beauty of pastry is you can get tools from anywhere — from Home Depot to the pharmaceutical company. I would like a refractometer ($595) for measuring the density of sugar. It tells you how much sugar is in a dish and is a great tool for adjusting recipes accordingly.”
—Cedric Barberet, Le Bec Fin, Philadelphia
“An earthenware pot ($55.99) to make Jim Lahey’s bread from My Bread.
—Joanne Chang, Flour Bakery, Boston
“I would like the Riedel Sommelier Series Sauternes glasses ($77 each). I don’t sit around drinking Sauternes, but they’re excellent for Champagne. The traditionally shaped glass doesn’t necessarily show off what the wines have to offer, so I usually use a white-wine, or even a bigger red-wine, glass to be able to smell it better. You want a wider surface area, and one that’s shaped to funnel the aromas to your nose. These glasses have the sharpest inner sweep of any glass, and it’s also a beautiful shape, very elegant.”
— John Slover, Grand Cru Wine Consulting and Bar Henry in New York
“What I really want this year is a SousVide Supreme ($449). I want to make the runny egg from the Momofuku cookbook, and I would sous-vide everything. I do a lot of dinner parties.”
—Alpana Singh, Lettuce Entertain You, Chicago