Serious home cooks are a particular breed. They have their kitchen stocked and dialed. Anything they add to it, they only want to buy once, and they want it to be the best in the category. You've likely never bought anything for this person that they've kept, unless they explicitly asked for it via a link on a Christmas List. If you went off-list and included a gift receipt, they returned it. If you didn't give a receipt, they donated it. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Hopefully, I can be of some assistance this year. I've had enough time in the kitchen to know what's need-to-have and really-nice-to-have at this point. And both are on this list for the food-obsessed person in your life to enjoy.
The Forever Kitchen Companion
If I were on a deserted island, this would be what I would take with me. It's the most-used pot in our kitchen; bringing soups, braises, and big batches of Sunday Sauce to fruition consistently. Not to sound snooty, but there's just something that makes cooking out of it feel more legit than its stainless steel counterparts. Plus, you can pull off some thoughtfulness points by matching it to your giftee's plates or kitchen decor. If someone got this for me, I would put them in my will.
The Tastiest Pre-Resolution Collection of Treats
Even though Jeni's is responsible for some of the best ice cream experiences I've had in my life, I never buy a pint for myself because it's just so damn expensive. This 5-pint collection has enough of a price tag to feel gift-able, and the cache of hard-to-find flavors like Dark Chocolate Peppermint and Brown Butter Almond Brittle will make the recipient swoon. I recommend wrapping this up for someone you're spending the holidays with simply so you can snag a sundae for yourself.
The Prettiest Cutting Board on the Block
I had never heard of these cutting boards until I cooked at Aspen Food & Wine this past year. When I heard we were all taking home a "booze block", I thought that I had hit the liquor lottery. Instead, I hit the cutting board one. Boos boards are quite literally super solid, making it the only surface you'll chop on for the rest of your life if you take care of it right. While they are pricey, their downright handsomeness makes it a cutting board and cheese board in one.
The Best Little Fermenter Around
If the home cook in your life isn't fermenting foods yet, it's probably because they just need some gentle encouragement. It's extremely easy to start making your own pickled things, and this handy device makes it even more approachable. Kimchi and sauerkraut is just the beginning, Kraut Source has amazing recipes included in this kit that range from real fermented pickles to things like salsa and cocktail compliments. The pounder they sell is also the best around, in my opinion.
The Most Badass Way To Keep Your Clothes Clean
I was never one for aprons. They tend to get twisted, they never have pockets worth a damn, and are often too gosh-darn precious to get dirty. These aprons changed my mind. They are crazy durable, they fit just right, and they're intuitively designed to have pockets for utensils and pens right where you need them. They carry a subliminal cool that makes you feel more adept just by putting one on. Bonus badass points for buying the (RED) edition they have.
The On-The-GoStocked Bar
I have been infatuated with these cocktail kits for a long time. Flying for me typically goes like this: 1. I'd love a drink. 2. Man, this wine selection is shitty. 3. Should I just drink bourbon? 4. That bourbon is pretty shitty, too. 5. "Club soda, please." These little kits have the fixin's to dress up even the most dreadful bottle of airplane booze into something special. I'd go with the G&T kit because I'm a sucker for tonic syrup, but the other options are equally stellar.
The Serial Entertainer's New Trick
There's something that feels especially gratifying about feeding a bunch of people from one big ole pan. This paella burner and stand allows the home cook that loves to entertain to live out that fantasy at a moment's notice. If you have rice, meat, veggies, and a few threads of saffron (bonus companion gift!), you're on your way to a killer dinner with pretty minimal effort and maximum impressive set-up. Just ask your friends to bring the rioja.
The Bowl That Gives Back
I love giving gifts that actually have impact attached to their purchase. These beautiful bowls are made in Rwanda by the Kwizera Cooperative, and buying one provides one year of health insurance for a family member. It'd look great filled with fruit, piled up with rolls to pass at the holiday table, or something just decorative (but what's the fun in something that isn't edible?). It's the kind of thing that would be proudly on display in my house year-round.
The Thing Most Home Cooks Should Have And Don't
I finally caved this year and put a cookbook stand on my list. In all honesty, it always felt frivolous to me, but now that I've finally noticed how often I flatten my cookbooks with a heavy pot to keep them open, this suddenly seems like pretty...elegant. I personally love the design on this stand too—it's not a heavy wood pulpit that makes you feel like you have to give a sermon each time you roll up to the counter. And I appreciate that.
The Guaranteed Green Thumb
If you ask me, and you are since you're on my website, herbs are the difference between a good meal and a great meal. I love having a pot growing outside, but that's not exactly a thing that's feasible during Colorado winters. This little thing will keep the herbs coming without upping the grocery tally, and look pretty on the counter to boot. If you're feeling like an especially baller giver, this indoor planter is next-level amazing.
The Better San Francisco Treat
If you're in the Bay Area, scoot your buns over to Pinckney Clay Work Shop. The shop is run by a local woman, Pinckney, who has found her calling through clay and curating beautiful objects. Check everyone off your list by loading up on the incredible goods in her store, commission a custom piece, or gift a class to someone who would love to get their hands (and likely elbows and jeans) dirty by making something. I got a few mugs of hers for my family last Christmas, and my very discerning mother has declared them her favorite. High praise from the hard-to-please!