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People love to cook, and every year I receive countless messages from friends and family asking for gift suggestions for the foodie in their lives. To get ahead of the curve, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite products — items that I use often, if not every day!
For the wannabe professional chef
Designed by and named after famed chef, Gray Kunz, this is a tool in most chef’s arsenal. It is considered the ultimate spoon by industry professionals — from Michelin-starred chefs to food stylists, and you’ll even see it used in most TODAY show cooking demos. It is well-balanced, perfectly weighted and the best plating spoon you’ll ever use.
Another food stylist and chef favorite: the Joyce Chen scissors. Be prepared to replace the clunky pair of kitchen shears in your drawer. Made with more carbon than most scissors, they keep a sharp edge longer than its competitors. They’re super comfortable, easy to control and will do anything from cutting through chicken bones to harvesting delicate herbs from the garden.
Salt should never be too far away when cooking, and I like to keep mine right on the counter for easy access. I prefer a two-cavity salt cellar — one for kosher salt for all-purpose seasoning and one for finishing salt. Pair it with boxes of Diamond Crystal and Maldon salts for the perfect gift!
People are constantly asking what my favorite cookware is, and it’s hard to answer. I love using different products for different tasks, but when it comes down to it, the Proclamation Duo is what I use most often. I’m not normally a fan of the "all-in-one" pots, but this one really does it all. I use the skillet for pan-searing and sautéing, and the larger high-sided skillet for deep frying, cooking pasta and making stews and sauce. You can even combine the two and use it as a Dutch oven. The best part is that it cleans really easily — and well! And while I know the price point may be scary, this set, when properly taken care of, is meant to last a lifetime.
A must-have for maintaining wood cutting boards and wood-handled tools. The combination of unbleached beeswax and food-grade mineral oil replenished lost moisture and seals it in to prevent them from drying, bleaching and cracking.
For the coffee connoisseur
The second coffee beans are ground, they begin to diminish in quality and flavor. If you’re a true coffee connoisseur, a burr grinder is a wise investment. Not only will the flavors and aroma be at their peak, you’ll be able to control the grind and adjust it for various uses — from espresso, to drip, to French press or even cold brew! Using the correct grind is imperative to make sure the extraction of coffee is correct. Under-extracted coffee can taste sour, while over extracted coffee will taste bitter or even burnt.
I’m addicted to handcrafted pottery. I was recently working in Tennessee and stumbled across Ogle Brothers General Store. I’m always looking for props for photoshoots and when I discovered that all the pottery was made onsite by a man named Jason Gore and his brother-in-law, I had to pick up a few things. I came home with this Dented Tumbler, amongst other things, and instantly fell in love. It’s my new favorite mug!
One day I added up how much I was spending on my morning latte and I almost fell off my chair. Considering I have an espresso machine and a moka pot, it occurred to me I was just being lazy. All I needed was a frother, and this is my go-to. Whip it out when entertaining to make lattes and cappuccinos to really impress your guests.
For the self-proclaimed mixologist
If you watch my show, "Saucy," you know that I can’t make a cocktail without fancy ice. Aside from looking beautiful, large ice cubes melt slower and do not dilute your beverage. They are also free of sediments that can alter the overall flavor of the beverage. You may have heard to boil water or to use filtered to obtain clear ice, but the only real way is to use a unit with a filtration system. Sediment is filtered through a tiny whole in the bottom of the mold and the result is crystal clear ice. The unit does take up some freezer space and making the ice can be time consuming, but it’s worth it!
Smoking cocktails is all the rage, and not only does this tool make it really easy to do, it makes for great conversation — and it's cool to watch, too! The founder, James, a bartender and firefighter is well-schooled in the arts of both fire science and smoke behavior. Using these skills, he created the SmokeTop.
If there’s one piece of bar equipment that is often overlooked, it’s the humble cocktail mixing glass. Using a proper mixing glass ensures that the cocktail is properly mixed and chilled, but without over-diluting the beverage.
Take infusion to the next level. The porthole is a simple, beautiful infusion vessel. It was originally for the Aviary in Chicago, but is now available to all! Use it to create striking cocktails, oils, teas, dressings, syrups, coffee or any type of cold infusion. It is sure to be both a centerpiece and conversation starter at your next dinner party.