the grub street gift guide

18 Celebrated Chefs on the Gifts They Want for the Holidays

We know that chefs have great ideas on holidays gifts to give, since they have access to nearly any ingredient or tool she or he could ever want. Yet this is exactly what makes them difficult to shop for. What do you get the food lover who has everything? Grub Street asked some of the country’s most accomplished chefs what they’re hoping to get this holiday season, and they all dropped some fantastic suggestions: an antique skillet, prized Italian salumi, and even a new record they can play in the kitchen. Check out all the selections, straight ahead.

A good friend from New York once ordered me a Russ & Daughters gift package and had it shipped to my house in New Orleans. We have a serious lack of quality bagels and smoked fish in Louisiana. I grew up in Philadelphia and went to school in New York, so biting into a thick bagel with scallion cream cheese and smoked salmon makes me very, very happy. It has always been one of my favorite bites, especially on a chewy everything bagel. When the package showed up it brought back lots of great culinary nostalgia. I always hope to see one of those boxes on my front steps during the holidays. When I do, I cancel all other breakfast plans and invite some friends over to dig into that New York City treat. —Alon Shaya, Shaya, New Orleans

All my cooks have this tool box! It’s long enough to hold your slicers and all your miscellaneous tools, and great for storage for all your little tools like cake testers and fish tweezers. It’s easy to clean, and it comes in multiple colors. And the Japanese design looks so cool! Plus, it’s monochromatically painted, even on the hardware. —Angela Dimayuga, Mission Chinese Food

This tool is very low-tech in terms of design, but it’s well made and high quality. It definitely trims your prep time down on mirepoix-cutting for soups and stews, but what I really love about the DynaCube is that it invites you to eat chopped salad everyday. Apples, Asian pears, radishes, turnips, peppers, and anything else from your farm share will go into the chopper and come out freshly diced, waiting to be seasoned, mixed, and eaten without using or having to clean a knife or a cutting board. —Michael Solomonov, Dizengoff

I have a Griswold No. 9 skillet that has a chrome-plated handle — it was my grandmother’s, and it is the pan that I cook dinner out of every night. It is the best cast-iron skillet I have ever used. It sits extremely flat, wears really well, has been through years and generations of use and abuse, and it still looks and feels perfect. It heats perfectly evenly and is the only way to get a nice solid sear on a steak, or to fry up some chicken. The other thing about them is that they are a little lighter than other brands of cast-iron skillets so they are a little easier to maneuver around. I want a No. 12 because the cooking surface is a little over 13 inches wide, which is perfect for cooking for three or four. The pan I have right now can quickly get crowded if I’m not careful. They are no longer in production, so you have to buy them secondhand, but I like the Pan Handler since I know what I am getting is the real thing. —Katie Button, Curate, Asheville, North Carolina

Le Creuset cast iron is always sturdy and reliable, so this gift works both functionally and aesthetically. You can use it as a centerpiece (because it looks fancy) for the table and then place a pot, casserole dish, or braiser on it to serve from. It’s great for one-pot meals. Functionally, it’s ideal as a resting surface located on or near your stove/oven while cooking. This allows you to pull pots, pans, and other cooking vessels on and off heat. Also, as a cooling surface, it helps preserve your kitchen counter. —Jenner Tomaska, Next, Chicago

As part of my job I’m constantly eating, and when the holidays are added into the mix, it can get a little, um, indulgent. Truth be told, I’m not usually the best at making time for working out, but ever since my colleagues turned me onto SoulCycle, I’ve gotten into a solid rhythm and go quite often, and have totally come to love the music and high energy of the classes. —Mark Rosati, Shake Shack

I almost have the whole collection of knives from Chubo — the only one missing is this one. I like it because it’s perfect for avocados (and I cut a lot of avocados!). It is super light and very easy to sharpen. Plus, the guys that own the company are great! —Daniela Soto-Ines, Cosme

I’ve been searching for years for the perfect pans to use at home. So when I saw these pans in London earlier this year, they quickly made an impression. The design is clean and functional, and they are handmade with recycled materials — everything about that speaks to me. —Stuart Brioza, State Bird Provisions, San Francisco

The holidays are the best time for cured meats, and nothing beats culatello. I first encountered this “King of Salami” in Parma, Italy, where the salt-cured pork is aged in a bladder. It is a similar cut to prosciutto but really distinct in flavor and tastier! —Manish Mehrotra, Indian Accent

After a big dinner, I love getting warm, cozy, and bundled up in front of a fire, even if the temperatures aren’t really dipping below 70 here. I gave this blanket to my son Charles last Christmas. He takes after me this way — he became so attached to it that he sleeps with it every night and carries it around the house for his added comfort. It’s time I stopped asking him to borrow or share it, so I hope that I get one of my own this holiday season! —Suzanne Goin, Lucques, Los Angeles

Being a pastry chef, I’m invited to a lot of cookie swaps and consider it my professional duty to taste everything! These lounge-y pants are just what I want to wear around the house in my down time after all the holiday festivities have passed. They’re made locally, and I really like the natural color palette. —Nicole Krasinski, State Bird Provisions, San Francisco

I love these carbon-steel, wide, shallow paella pans that gives you the maximum amount of socarrat — the crispy layer of flavorful rice that forms on the bottom only if you cook it properly. I’m hoping to soon put a fire pit in my backyard so I can make paella the classic way, with lots of friends and family sharing and helping to make a dish that’s so convivial and celebratory. —Anita Lo, Annisa

A porron is the best, most fun way to share wine or cocktails in a group, and adds energy to the party! It’s funny, we use these at Toro and Little Donkey but I don’t have one, and I’m not likely to purchase one, so I always hope someone gifts one to me. —Jamie Bissonette, Toro

We like to listen to a lot of music at Fat Rice. The new album from A Tribe Called Quest is right up our alley for the restaurant and our staff. Their music is fun to play while prepping, or even in the dining room during service. New music is something that we all bond over, other than food, and it raises everyone’s energy in the kitchen. —Abraham Conlon, Fat Rice, Chicago

Weft & Warp Seamster makes great knife rolls and bags. These knife rolls are handmade up in Maine and that feels good. They are the right size and I think work so well for anybody — I tell all my chef friends to load one of these up for the outdoors, camping, and weekend trips. —Josh McFadden, Ava Gene’s, Portland, Oregon

I just love the bowls from Japanese-born, Brooklyn-based ceramicist Shino Takeda. I really like the natural quality of her approach, which strives for “perfect imperfection” and makes it so that every single one of her pieces is one-of-a-kind —Ignacio Mattos, Estela

This books documents seven years of elBulli. It’s an incredible collection of recipes and techniques from a team that forever changed the way I look at food. Insanely inspiring. —Sean Brock, Neighborhood Dining Group

My first cookbook was published in September, and I’ve been on the road a lot this fall on a book tour. The last time I ran into my friend, chef Alon Shaya, he showed me this “smart” suitcase from Raden, which you can plug in and charge, and then can use as an extra battery to charge your phone! Even better: This suitcase also can tell you how much it weighs, which, when you’re trying to pack your knife bag and a few pounds of extra ingredients, can be really helpful before showing up at the airport. —Ashley Christensen, Poole’s Downtown Diner, Raleigh, North Carolina

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18 Gifts That America’s Best Chefs Want for the Holidays