What to Gift a Professional Cook for the Holidays
‘Tis the season of giving. Perhaps, you are wondering what to gift a professional cook for the holidays?
With their busy schedules and personal preferences, it’s not easy to buy the professional cook in your life a great gift they’ll actually use.
We talked to some reputable professional cooks, a pastry chef and a beverage expert—from New York City and beyond—to ask them for some suggestions on what they would want as a gift this holiday season.
Here’s what they recommend…
“Interesting Dry Things”
Scott Fratangelo, the chef and co-owner of L’inizio in Ardsley, New York and former owner of NYC’s Spiglio, said a great gift is anything dried, such as fish, herbs, or beef, which he would use at home or at the restaurant.
“I won’t necessarily use it that often,” he said, but it will be there when he wants to experiment. Fratangelo raved about some dried shrimp a friend brought him back from Cambodia, which he uses in his Japanese Dashi broth.
If you can’t go to Cambodia, go to a local specialty market (Indian, Korean, Jamaican, etc.) and pick up something that gets you excited or sparks a memory. “You buy a cook something like that, and they’re over the moon about it,” Fratangelo said.
For Cook Who Loves Books
In the book titled “The Mirazur Cookbook”, Chef Colagreco not only provides 65 recipes from his restaurant, but also stunning imagery of his restaurants’ surroundings and insights into the local producers who provide Mirazur’s ingredients.
Check out the cookbook here: The Mirazur Cookbook
Von Hauske also suggested another beautiful book, The Cocktail Codex, written by the visionaries of famed NYC cocktail bar Death & Co, which “has a ton of information on cocktails and just your basic knowledge which I’m really into these days,” he wrote.
It’s worth adding that von Hauske and his partner at Contra, Jeremiah Stone, have a cookbook of their own on the market, playfully named “A Very Serious Cookbook,” with a foreword by wine-loving comedian Eric Wareheim. Check out his book here: The Cocktail Codex.
For the Pastry Chef in Your Life
If you have a pastry chef in your life, congratulations! We have them to thank for the sweet treats this time of year.
For those pie-making friends and family, Emily Elsen, the co-owner of pieshop, Four & Twenty Blackbirds, in Brooklyn, recommended a dough blender because it “makes it easy to make pie crust at home without a food processor.”
Chefs Love Knives
Every good cook needs good knives but you should avoid buying a large block set, Adam Lambert, the co-owner of the all-local butcher shop Ohio City Provisions in Cleveland, wrote. “Instead, buy fewer knives of a higher quality,” he wrote. “You only need a chef’s knife, a paring knife, a boning knife, and a bread knife.”
Like the knives, just invest in a few great pans, Lambert wrote. If you want to cook like a pro, he suggested buying a large All-Clad saute pan, a Le Creuset Dutch oven, a Griswold cast iron pan, and a heavy-bottom stainless stockpot.
Serve it Up Right
Silvia Barban, the Calabrian chef and co-owner of LaRina in Brooklyn and former Top Chef contestant, wrote, “I’m always excited when I receive utensils that I can use for service and that I can show off during event.” This year she’s hoping to receive a “set of gold spoons for plating to stand out from the norm.” She made a few more recommendations: a bronze oyster-shucking knife, a great Japanese knife, and, perhaps most important of all for busy chefs, a gift certificate for a massage or spa day.
If you can’t send the cook in your life to a place like Florida or San Diego for some constant, saltry temps, consider a Sous Vide Precision Cooker.
When Alex Pfaffenbach, the general manager at The NoMad, would cook ribeyes, filets, and other meat in his small NYC apartment, it wouldn’t take much to smoke out the whole place. That’s why an immersion circulator “changes the whole game,” he said.
Recently, Pfaffenbach put two big turkey breasts in a bag with brown butter and thyme, cooked for two hours, tand hen seared it. The bird came out super juicy in the middle. The precision cooker is bluetooth-enabled, and you can splurge for the version with wi-fi.
Check it out: Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker
Craft Your Own Cocktail
If you have a friend who wants to get into cocktails, Pfaffenbach recommends Cocktail Kingdom, which sells online and has a store in New York. The essential cocktail set includes a mixing glass, barspoon, jigger, shakers, and a strainer. If your friend already has the basics, they might love the addition of a new mixing glass to their collection.
Get shaking: Essential Cocktail Set From Cocktail Kingdom
If all else fails, just take them out to dinner!