Must-Have Kitchen Gifts For The Discerning Foodie
From hand-crafted Damascus steel knives to rare Spanish olive oil.
You have gifts to buy this holiday, we have you covered. Last week we shared our favorite new American whiskies for the bourbon-obsessed, and this week it’s a plethora of ideas for the burgeoning chef or self-proclaimed foodie in your life. You know, they’ve binged Street Food and Salt Fat Acid Heat and are now attempting to slow-roast duck carnitas tacos on their George Foreman Grill. From affordable but rare Spanish olive oil to drizzle on salads to a set of gorgeously hand-crafted Damascus steel knives, here are some holiday gift ideas for the discerning epicurean.
William Henry ‘Kultro’ Chef Knives
One of the fundamental tools in a chef’s arsenal are his knives, and William Henry’s Kultro collection is the set that looks as good as they perform. Co-founded by Matt Conable — whose fine knives have been displayed at the Smithsonian and Philadelphia Museum of Art — the McMinnville, Oregon studio’s half dozen blades (pairing, utility, bread, and three chef knives (5.5”, 7.5” and 9.5”)) are all forged from 67 alternating layers of VG-10 and 410 stainless steel providing superb corrosion and wear resistance, edge retention, high strength, ease of sharpening and razor-like sharpness. The set also comes with a diamond coated sharpener and two cases: a thick custom leather roll bag for safe traveling and a fan-like maple wood rack for home display. Plus you can select between one of three patterns (Blue-Tribal, White-Star and Black-Lightning) of Damascus steel to dazzle guests as you’re chopping broccoli. $2,450
Le Creuset ‘Cosmos’ Round Dutch Oven 5-QT
While expensive, having a Le Creuset in your arsenal is one of the building blocks of any aspiring cook. There’s almost nothing you cannot do with a Le Creuset, its sturdy enameled cast iron material the ideal weapon for everything from soups and slow-cooked stews to even baking bread. This autumn the venerable French brand introduced a new spacey, deep blue colorway dubbed Cosmos for their most instrumental pieces. Start with the round 5-QT Dutch Oven and you can’t go wrong; it’ll last generations.
Momofuku Chili Crunch
Sure it’s preferred to make all your sauces, but sometimes it helps to have some shortcuts. Enter David Chang, esteemed international chef and founder of Momofuku. After a decade of research with his culinary lab Chang is finally releasing a line of products used in world renowned foodie Meccas like Estela, Eleven Madison Park, Gramercy Tavern and Loring Place, including Momofuku Liquids (Soy Sauce, Tamari and Toasted Sesame Oil) and Seasoned Salts. We fell hard for the Chili Crunch, a variation on one of the first sauces Chang served with his Duck Ssäm at Momofuku Ssäm Bar. The umami-bursting chili oil is made with all natural organic and vegan ingredients including three Mexican chilis (Pulla, Chili de Arbol and Japones), crispy shallots, sesame seeds, dried garlic and even coconut sugar for a hint of nutty sweetness. $10
Even the most ardent chef occasionally wants to rip off the apron, kick their feet up and be served themselves, and for those occasions it’s hard to beat Goldbelly. The startup food delivery platform recently tapped the aforementioned Momofuku, adding to world famous spots like George Stone Crab in Miami and Joe’s Kansas City BBQ to send what they dub “edible hugs” to those you love most. A $150 gift card will get your friends a four-pack Lobster Roll Kit from Kennebunkport’s cult fav The Clam Shack; $250 will source a sustainably raised Frenched Rack of Lamb straight from Thomas Keller and shepherd Keith Martin’s Pure Bred Farm. Our lobster arrived chilled and ready to eat, along with everything needed to replicate the Crab Shack experience at home (buns, lemon, tons of lobster meat, napkins, paper trays and even a whole stick of better to melt). Prices Vary
Crown Maple ‘Bourbon Barrel-Aged’ Syrup
We’re big fans of Widow Jane’s luscious Decadence bourbon, so when we saw Crown Maple’s “bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup” on the shelf we scooped it up quick. Coincidentally Widow Jane finishes aging their Decadence in the same barrels used to age this Hudson Valley artisanal bourbon syrup harvested on their 800-acre organic family farm, so we guessed Crown Maple’s offering would be just as good. And guess what, it is. By no means an overpowering taste of whiskey, just a slight bourbon-y sweetness that adds some hobo magic to your morning flapjacks. $17
Breville ‘The Oracle Touch’ Espresso Machine
Some espresso makers are the air-cooled Porsches of coffeemaking: potent but analog machines of elegant precision, either piloted by artists of the highest order or woefully misused. Breville’s Oracle Touch is not such a machine. This is Cappuccino for Dummies in stainless steel form — what happens when you cross an iPad with an espresso machine for the barista impaired. The Oracle Touch does it all: internally stores and measures whole beans, grounds them exactly how you like, tamps, and delivers a perfect cup, every time. No scale, no portamento, no brains needed. A sensor in the milk wand even brings dairy up to exact temperature, cap or latte precisely how you like — all via simple intuitive touchscreen (you can even create and save up to 8 personalized coffees). Breville’s genius machine is not for the enthusiast who wants to be a coffee artiste, it’s for the guy who wants really good coffee and doesn’t want to think about it first thing in the morning. $2,000
Casas de Hualdo ‘Reserva de Familia’ Olive Oil
Oil and salt, doesn’t get much simpler than that. Start with the best olive oil and you almost can’t go wrong. New to American shelves, Casas de Hualdo has been making award-winning olive oil 100% sourced from their sustainable farm outside of Toledo for generations. Marrying well-earned heritage with modern cultivation and irrigation systems allows Casas de Hualdo to ensure optimum olive freshness via extracting at their mill within no more than six hours of harvest. The premier limited edition hand-numbered bottle, dubbed Reserva de Familia, is made on their first harvest day and blends four varietals (Arbequina, Picual, Cornicabra, Manzanilla) to create a luxuriously rich oil that will add notes of artichoke, green almond and fresh cut summer grass to everything from salads to cheese plates to tapas to pizza to simply a bowl of tomatoes — hell it’ll make a stale Ritz cracker taste like food of the gods. $28
Ninja Professional Plus Kitchen System with Auto-iQ
You’ve probably seen or used one of Ninja’s super convenient blenders before as they seem to be the standard for bachelors everywhere. Their new Professional Plus Kitchen System with Auto-iQ is Ninja’s halo product, a do-it-all contraption with the versatility and capability of the market’s best combined with Ninja’s famous ease-of-use. Its five Auto-iQ presets let you make smoothies, frozen drinks, nutrient extractions, chopped mixtures and even dough with the deft touch of a single button. While an expert for drinks (smoothies and veggie juices especially), the Ninja’s Pro Extractor Blades can also chop fresh pico de gallo or puree gazpacho — or blend party size frozen margaritas with the included 72-oz. “Total Crushing Pitcher.” There are even single-serve cups with spout lids for when you need to whip up some piña coladas for one. $200