Gift Guides

Holiday Gift Ideas For Chefs You Love

A pizza oven at Sur La Table.
A pizza oven at Sur La Table. Julie Levin
December is here, and with that comes the frantic scrambling to get all your holiday shopping done. If you've got a friend or family member who loves concocting new recipes in the kitchen and hosting dinner parties, we've got a few gift ideas for you. Near the top of every home chef's wish list is probably something like the ever-popular air fryer, but we're leaving that off this list for now in favor of some other both practical and fun items. There are also some local gifts and cooking experiences sure to impress your favorite amateur chef. Bon appétit!

Taste It Tours Gift Voucher
If your chef is a big foodie, they'll love going on a walking and tasting tour to multiple restaurants. Taste It Tours offers food adventures in Gilbert, Phoenix, and Scottsdale. You get to sample bites at five or six different local establishments, learn about Arizona history, and more. Purchase a gift voucher online for the total tour amount or a specific dollar amount that can be used as credit toward the tour. Tours start at $65.

Bench Scraper
It's sometimes called a bench scraper, a bench knife, or a dough scraper. Whatever you call it, it's an item that has crossed over with ease from professional to home kitchens. It's sort of like a large spatula you can use to divide dough and collect and transfer items like chopped produce or herbs from the cutting board to the pan. It can also be used to cut a pan of brownies or cutting pasta dough. $10-50.

Cast Iron Skillet
Cast iron pans or skillets are extremely versatile and long-lasting. They come with a natural nonstick coating that builds up when properly maintained (season with a layer of oil or fat, heat, and buff). Use it to make cornbread, roast a whole chicken, cook eggs, and more. $15-50.
click to enlarge Scott Conant's fourth cookbook is available now. - JACOB TYLER DUNN
Scott Conant's fourth cookbook is available now.
Jacob Tyler Dunn

Chef Scott Conant's Cookbook
Scottsdale's own Scott Conant recently released his fourth cookbook, Peace, Love, & Pasta: Simple and Elegant Recipes from a Chef’s Home Kitchen. He currently owns and operates Mora Italian in Phoenix and the Americano Restaurant in Scottsdale. Peace, Love, and Pasta includes recipes from Conant's many years in the kitchen and restaurants around the country plus his favorite dishes to make at home with his two daughters. Most of the recipes have ingredients that are easily found in stores or online, and many are simple to put together, making the cookbook appropriate for chefs of all abilities. $25.

Food Scale
Don't underestimate the power of a food scale. Instead of turning to the usual measuring cups, use a scale to weigh out more precisely. Just think — what do three bananas actually measure out to in a recipe or a big hunk of cheese in ounces? You'll dirty up less dishes this way, too. $10-$30.

Knife Set
Whether it's a knife block or in a case, a good set of knives is essential for the home chef. Spring for a multi-piece set or grab some of the most crucial items — a chef's knife, paring knife, and serrated knife. There are traditionally two styles of knives, Eastern and Western. Eastern knives usually have one slanted blade while Western knives have two blades and generally more of a curve. There are also hybrid designs. Either way, a good chef will need to take good care to keep them sharp, so throw in a sharpener too if you feel. $50-$150.

click to enlarge Crackers from Hayden Flour Mills. - LAUREN CUSIMANO
Crackers from Hayden Flour Mills.
Lauren Cusimano
Hayden Flour Mills Artisan Bread Baker’s Box
Many people took up making bread during the pandemic, and there's nothing better than a freshly baked loaf you make yourself. Hayden Flour Mills has a kit perfect for getting your chef started. The $99 Artisan Bread Baker's Box comes with two boxes of artisan bread flour, a 9-inch proofing bowl, a stainless steel dough scraper, a tea towel, and a drawstring bread bag. $100.

Mandoline
You've probably seen the chefs on your favorite cooking shows use a mandoline to precisely and quickly slice ingredients. It's ideal for cutting down the prep time on making homemade chips and fries, slivering apples for pie, and even grating cheese if there's a grating blade included. Just advise your chef to be careful — these can be very sharp. $20-$80.

Pasta Machine
There's nothing quite like making pasta from scratch. Fresh pasta is actually relatively easy. Just combine flour, water, and a couple of eggs then use one of these machines to roll out the dough. Some are manual and some are electric. It depends how much work you think the chef will be willing to do. Either way, the result will be delicious. $30-$100.

Portable Pizza Oven
Here's a fun one. Everyone loves pizza, and there are ways to make it at home in your usual oven, but there's something about that wood-fired taste of these ones that makes it taste super authentic. Plus, if you have a portable pizza oven, it can come with you wherever you go as long as there's somewhere to plug it in. Home chefs will love experimenting with different types of pizza and showing off to their friends. $150-$400.

Some ingredients needed to make pad thai at home. - JULIE LEVIN
Some ingredients needed to make pad thai at home.
Julie Levin
Sweet Moments Company Cooking Class
Sweet Moments Company was started by pastry chef and culinary instructor Therese Ludwig and her husband Brent in 2019. Instead of losing momentum during the pandemic, the company thrived and offered interactive virtual cooking classes on pretty much every recipe you can think of. The ingredients are even shipped to your door. In order to gift this to your favorite chef, head to the website and purchase a gift card ranging from $25 to $100 or a unique amount. They can then select the exact class they want. $25-$100.

Spiralizer
There's so much you can do with a spiralizer. Make "noodles" out of vegetables like zucchini and cucumber, fries or latkes out of spiralized potatoes, or a pie from peeled apples. There are different kinds of spiralizers, but many come with different blade cuts you can switch out and are handheld or have a hand crank. There are electric versions too, if you just want to push a button. Another option is an attachment that can be added to a food processor or stand mixer. Just make sure it's compatible with the device before purchasing. $25-$70.

Sous Vide Cooker
Also seen demonstrated by professional chefs on cooking shows, sous vide is a process that involves vacuum-sealing food in a bag then cooking it to a very precise temperature in a water bath. You can then sear, grill, or broil to add a crispy exterior if you like. There are various types of sous vide cookers for sale like immersion circulators and water ovens. Your chef will enjoy playing around with different sous vide recipes like cooking eggs, steak, fish, and more. $70-$200.
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Julie Levin is a writer, TV show producer, and an on-air news radio anchor. When she's not behind the scenes or mid broadcast, she's trying new eateries and bars or meeting up with as many friends as possible in one day (usually socializing around food). A self-proclaimed history geek, she also enjoys reading menus and watching food shows with her fiancé. They're working on visiting every place on their master list of Arizona restaurants.