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Throughout the years of blogging, my BOH stories have seemed to be what my readers get a kick out of the most.
The soul-crushing years that I have spent in the professional kitchen gives me a pretty good insight into knowing what kind of gift items would be well received.
If you are holiday shopping for a chef or an aspiring chef, here is a list of gift ideas that I have personally handpicked. Click on images for detail.
Knives are a chef’s most prized toys. And they’re not something you’d want to mess with. This here is a Shun Hiro SG2. Can you say “sexy”? No way in Hell I’d ever bring such a fancy knife to the work kitchen where God knows what might happen. i.e. one chef runs to back kitchen to grab something that’s packaged, realizes he needs a knife, grabs the nearest knife he sees, and accidentally drops it hard on the floor. Shit like this should not happen, but it does (and far worse also does). I, personally, go nuts when others get their grubby hands on my personal property.
This is the kind of knife your chef will tressure outside of the workplace where no other fellow chefs intrude, i.e., the home kitchen, their sanctity. The way this knife cuts food is unparallel.
Every chef should be armed with a wicked knife sharpening tool.
This ice cream maker though! Chefs are creative explorers. In the work kitchen, they may not always have the time, space, or solitude to explore. Orders need to be done (on the fly), there are a billion things on the prep list, etc. And there’s always someone in your way in an already cramped space. Experimenting means are limited. But in the home kitchen, there’s the luxury of being able to experiment in peace with no one to bother you or get in your way. Creativity can run wild. Your chef will love you to pieces for this. The flavor possibilities are endless. And experimenting at home in peace may just be what he/she needs to find creativity. Next thing you know, the new flavor they just came up with while experimenting at home is the next biggest hit on the new menu at their restaurant.
This is so badass! I am not a fan of store-bought dehydrated snacks, as they can be sugary and contain too much chemical preservatives. But I love the more natural, healthier homemade ones. Your chef’s imagination will run wild with endless creativity.
I first saw Rub-A-Way Bar in Efren’s office. It’s a neat little stainless steel device that removes food odors. Sometimes soap alone won’t do the trick. For items like fish, I, personally like to wash away the odor with lemon. But the Rub-A-Way is a supercool alternative to own.
Some prefer carrying knife bags. But I think I’ve seen the tool box preferred over bags. I’ve had a knife bag before. And well, it just wasn’t for me. A box was just much more convenient in so many ways. And it’s way easier to clean, too.
This one here is perfect for storing all them tips and junk. If your pastry chef also delves in the art of cake decorating, he/she is definitely going to need a box to keep everything organized. They are going to be forever grateful.
Aren’t these the cutest? I love the personal touches when I accessorize. Dangly jewelry isn’t usually worn in the chaotic kitchen. So outside of the kitchen, cute little accessories like these can add a special touch to expressing who you are.
Yoga shorts for the sassy lady chef
Comfy, cute, and with a message to show who them what you’re made of.
One can never have too many books in their collection. Books feed the mind. One can never gain too much wisdom about all things related to the industry. Whether it’s a book about kitchen life or enhancing knowledge of skills or flavor profiles, the more one reads, the more his/her repertoire is heightened.
Michael Rulman is one of my favorite food writers. No one can tell the story of food quite like he can. In Making of a chef, Rulman takes you through his journey at The Culinary Institute of America, which is like the Harvard of culinary schools. I remember being at a bookstore, browsing for something else when this book caught my attention. I had to pick it up.
I’ve been binge watching his shows for years as he eats his way through the world. And I love his in-your-face writing style when he writes about the professional kitchen. #loved
Need I say more on this next one? This set is most likely a part of the collection of anyone that is serious about honing their skills in the fine art of cooking. The two-volume set is a timeless classic that anyone, from the beginning home cook to the professional can abide by.
The man that started the food truck revolution also has a way with words. I loved this book.
Joy of Cooking is another timeless classic that anyone that loves to cook should not be without.
Like my other (regular) Bible, The Flavor Bible would be a cherished part of my collection until eternity. Grasping an understanding of what works well, inspires endless creativity in cooking food that just works.
“On Food and Cooking pioneered the translation of technical food science into cook-friendly kitchen science and helped give birth to the inventive culinary movement known as “molecular gastronomy.” Though other books have now been written about kitchen science, On Food and Cooking remains unmatched in the accuracy, clarity, and thoroughness of its explanations, and the intriguing way in which it blends science with the historical evolution of foods and cooking techniques.” – a passage from a description of the book.
Known as “The Walt Whitman of American eats”, Trillin has got humor in in writing style. Totally my kind of writer!
He was the youngest chef to earn three Michelin stars. Chefs are busy people and it’s not always easy to find time to read. But this book should be one that your chef must set aside time to read. They’ll laugh, cry, and be inspired.
Okay, I don’t condone smoking. I am uber sensitive to cigarette smokes and can sense them from a mile away and get irritated. But let’s face it. You are more likely to meet a chef that has the nasty habit of smoking than one that doesn’t. And if choosing to smoke, they might as well do it in style, right? I’ve bought lighters as gifts for others and for myself as well. Although I don’t smoke, I have a thing with scented candles and use it for that. But if you are shopping for a chef, chances are that a lighter can come in handy. I remember a story told from a chef about the time when she was in culinary school. She mentioned how most of the class used to go out for “smoke breaks” while the few nonsmokers stayed in and was given no break. It was then in culinary school that she somehow took up smoking. When excusing herself to go on a break, her instructor stated, “You don’t smoke.” She whipped out a cigarette and replied, “Yeah, I do,” and walked out. Here is an article that goes into the topic of smoke breaks amongst industry professionals.
Spa for the tootsies
Your beloved chef will love you for this one. Chefs are on their feet all day and all night. No one needs their feet pampered more than chefs. After pulling off that 16-hour shift, relaxing into one of these lets the chef exhale in relaxation.
Bakers and chefs are experts at cooking and baking, obviously, but not all of them are refined artists with the piping bag. Cake decorating is another skill that many industry professionals might be interested in picking up.
This is a skill that I wish I had time to hone further. Maybe when I am old(er) and retired, I’ll spend my days knitting, raising my ten dogs on a farm, and finally mastering all the finite intricacies of piping and sculpting fondant. These gurus guide you from the fundamental basics of cake decorating to becoming awesome enough that you’re now decorating cakes professional looking enough for people to want to actually buy! Not a bad money on the side gig. But if you want to take it even further, they even help you with that in helping you through starting your very own cake business.