the grub street gift guide

21 Acclaimed Chefs on the Holiday Gifts They Plan to Give This Year

If anyone is going to have a killer gift idea for someone obsessed with food, it’s going to be a chef, someone who spends their days surrounded by the best ingredients and the newest kitchen tools. So Grub Street asked around to see what some of America’s best chefs plan to give this year. They didn’t disappoint, offering up ideas like an amazing ice-cream scoop, a foldable French knife, and even next-level socks. (California’s Daniel Patterson also suggests a donation to ROC United, an organization that helps the country’s restaurant workers.) Keep reading for all the suggestions.

Every year, I make big batches of preserves for my family and friends and pack them up in these pretty jars. I love the charming design of these jars, and their size means that after the preserves are gone, they make a perfect spice container. I order them ahead of time to keep the whole process quick, affordable, and fun. —Emma Bengtsson, Aquavit

We actually carry this duet of hand wash and lotion set in Parachute’s bathrooms. These are made for “hardworking hands” — cooks wash theirs all day — and they won’t strip hands of moisture. Also, I love the aroma of the mandarin rind, rosemary, and cedar, which offsets the garlic- and onion-scents that are usually on a cook’s hands. —Beverly Kim, Parachute, Chicago

This is a perfect gift to give the person who likes to carry the world in their bag. For me, that’s my sister. She carries all the restaurant papers, laptop, workout clothes, and sneakers in one bag between vendors and our two restaurants. —Marian Cheng, Mimi Cheng’s Dumplings

Years ago, we were given one of these beautiful handmade Donabes, and we now use it several times a week. It makes perfect rice every single time. They send along a measuring cup, directions, and a wooden rice paddle, which are all the tools you need. Because we love to share food, being able to serve directly from this cooker at the table is also so nice. —Stuart Brioza, State Bird Provisions, San Francisco

I will be gifting this book to the servers at Night+Market because it made me fall in love with natural wine. Kermit Lynch’s stories of the Loire inspired me to book a flight and work the harvest in 2010. I also encourage my staff to subscribe to his newsletters. By giving them this book, maybe they will understand my fascination with Loire wines and fall more deeply in love with our list. —Kris Yenbamroong, Night+Market, Los Angeles

I am someone who has worked on my feet many hours a day for three decades. One thing I encourage people to consider is the relief a good sock can provide. This is my favorite. The socks have a thick cushion on the bottom and thin mesh on top, so they keep your feet cool and extra comfortable. The unsung hero of the day! —Mark Ladner, Del Posto

A safe bet for gift-giving is Yeti, a company based here in Austin. Its products are unlike any other coolers I’ve used. The Rambler, in particular, is the best set of drinkware for keeping everyone’s drinks hot or cold on the go. I don’t go anywhere without mine. I’m always amazed at how I can pour steaming hot tea in and an hour later (or more!) it’s still piping hot. A marvel! —Tyson Cole, Uchi, Austin

The Good Fork Cookbook

The author, Sohui Kim, used to work with us at Annisa. Her beloved Red Hook restaurant is celebrating its ten-year anniversary, and it is such a pioneer in this now-thriving neighborhood. The Good Fork is a quintessential neighborhood restaurant; it helped create community in an up-and-coming area. Sohui was making simple, robust, and delicious food long before many other players moved in. —Anita Lo, Annisa

Because every chef needs a great apron, I would gift Hedley & Bennett aprons to my kitchen staff. The aprons are super durable, comfortable, and look really sharp. —Abraham Conlon, Fat Rice, Chicago

Maison Louis Marie candles last a long time, are simply designed, and smell amazing. The scents incorporate fruits and herbs like lime, cassis, lemongrass, and tangerine. We have them burning at both Ava Gene’s and Tusk, and people ask about them everyday. They burn for, like, 60 to 70 hours. —Josh McFadden, Ava Gene’s, Portland, Oregon

Douk-Douk Knives Folder

I was recently in Paris and went to a wonderful kitchen store, Le Tresorie. I discovered the foldup Douk-Douk knife. The handle has a Douk-Douk, a Melanesian spirit incarnation, carved into it. They are just gorgeous and well made — the perfect picnic knife. Want cheese, a slice of fruit, or a smidgen of charcuterie? And do you want to look great while you do it? This is the knife for you. —Jessica Koslow, Sqirl, Los Angeles

Photo: Caitlin McCaffrey 2016

At my restaurants Arguello and Mijita, we make fresh tortillas daily, and this year, I’m giving everyone these gorgeous walnut-wood fresh tortilla presses from Shed in Healdsburg because there’s really no more simple pleasure in life than a freshly pressed tortilla. —Traci des Jardins, Jardinière, San Francisco

It’s so wonderful to grow herbs at home — especially when you live in a city. These shears appeal because I adhere to the shared philosophy among chefs of always using the proper tool for the job. With their pointed fine blades, they delicately and precisely snip herbs without damaging the plants. Nicole Krasinski, State Bird Provisions, San Francisco

Kefir is a really great beginner’s fermentation project, and you can do so much with it — use it as a crema, or a sour cream, or even make it into homemade butter. It’s way cheaper than buying your own kefir, and tastes so much brighter and more special than what you’ll find at Whole Foods. You can also use the grains themselves in cream or milk, and it’s full of probiotics — my sister feeds them to her kids. And the shareability is cool — as you ferment, the grains grow in size. You can take some off and give them to your friends, and they can make their own kefir. I love that about kombucha mothers — but this is way less scary than making kombucha. —Angela Dimayuga, Mission Chinese Food

A lot of people never think to invest in a sharpening stone, but it’s truly necessary for all home cooks. The Zwilling Japanese water stone is very efficient and effective, and it’s also affordable and simple to use. This stone has two sides to get the perfect sharpness on different knives, and a non-slip base, which makes it easy and safe to sharpen your knives at home. —Floyd Cardoz, Paowalla

I’m really into giving experiences instead of things. I would love to give someone an awesome Le Creuset coffee press with a handwritten “I owe you” for a morning of coffee tastings at our local roaster to choose a pound of their favorite roast or blend. I like these particular French presses because they really retain the heat of the coffee, the enamel options are a nice way to add a splash of color to your morning, and they completely hide any coffee-related stains to the press. —Cassidee Dabney, Blackberry Farm, Walland, Tennessee

This is the best ice-cream scoop out there. It makes the perfect scoop (round and never hollow), it lasts forever, and it’s ergonomic. Plus it’s something you didn’t realize you needed until you have one — and it’s an item you probably would not buy for yourself, which makes it perfect gifting material! —Nick Morgenstern, Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream

This is not your average slow cooker. It can steam food, cook beans and rice perfectly, and you can even sauté in it. Most importantly for my mom, it’s perfect for non-cooks. She probably won’t use it for any of the things I mentioned above. Now that I think about it, she will likely regift it, because she probably won’t use it, but then at least someone else ends up with a great piece of kitchen equipment. —Gavin Kaysen, Spoon & Stable, Minneapolis


I adore my circulator and use it nearly every time I cook at home. It’s small, sleek, and very easy to use — plus, everything is run by using an app on your phone that is filled with really great information and recipes. —Sean Brock, Neighborhood Dining Group

These plates, bowls, and cups are beautiful. Each piece is made by hand, and they have this wonderful simplicity to them — rustic yet elegant. But the reason I love their pieces is that they are dishwasher safe and so durable. East Fork Pottery also uses local clay, so by gifting their pieces — whether it’s a dinner set or a coffee mug — I am literally able to give a piece of North Carolina. —Katie Button, Curate, Asheville, North Carolina

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21 Holiday Gift Ideas From Acclaimed Chefs