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gift for a chef to be?

hi there - I'm geting married in 2 weeks and one of my best friends is being our unofficial wedding planner - he's going to the venue between the ceremony and reception to over see the caters and set up and most likely will have to deal with any emergencies.

He's just started chef training part time - while he keeps his office job for the time being - and he is such a foodie. I wanted to get him something he can use in his training or at home while he practises his new skills. Trouble is he has so much already and loves gadgets.

Is there anything you hounds can recommmend that has changed the way you work in the kitchen or that are perhaps a little more expensive and therefore it might be something he'd hesitate to buy for himself?

was thinking maybe a small le cresuet pot? or something else indulgent?

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  1. Carerra marble mortar and pestle from Biordi Imports in San Francisco. Hard to have too many mortar and pestles as long as they are made from different materials, different sizes, etc..

    1 Reply
    1. re: Karl Gerstenberger

      thanks for the tip - he has a marble one already but I did see a very beautiful one made of olive wood. Other than it being so beautiful is there a specific use for each kind of mortar and pestle? I'm thinking you couldn't do peppercorns or anything too hard in a wood one? Thoughts? Suggestions?

    2. kitchen aid mixer (depending on how much you want to spend), slap of marble for rolling dough, chocolate, etc., or you could get a bunch of different things - microplane, french rolling pin, silpat

      1. Some nice sea salts would be a good gift, or something that he could use with all of his gadgets while he's cooking. You could buy a few of those salt boxes, and fill each with an exotic salt. (We were just in Vancouver and there's a company that sells food products, including specialty salts... I bought my mom a Fig and Basil salt and my MIL a Cayenne and Chocolate sea salt.) Here's an example of a salt box: http://www.crateandbarrel.com/family.... I saw a gorgeous olive wood one in Williams Sonoma, but it was pretty pricey.

        1. How about a personalized/monogramed chef's jacket and a pair of clogs in his size?

          Maybe a roll bag to carry his knives or a tool box to carry all his chef's tools?

          As far as equipment, people tend to be very picky about these things. Perhaps a nice gift certificate so he can choose his own?

          2 Replies
            1. re: Karl Gerstenberger

              Chefs coat is a great idea---also how about a mandoline, a great knife,saute pan, or braising casserole. Also great spices from Penzi's.

            1. How about a Global knife a 10' chefs knife will last years and they will think of you everytime they use it.

              11 Replies
              1. re: Winemark

                One word about knives--I have been given gifts of many a chef's knife and while the gift is well intentioned and generous I only ever used one that was given as a gift==the one I specifically wanted. Buying a knife is like buying a pair of shoes--I'd never do it unless I got to try it on. Has to do with how it fits in your hand, works as an extention of your arm, etc. If you do choose to buy a chef's knife as a present, be sure to get a gift receipt and be prepared to not be offended if it is returned or exchanged.

                1. re: Non Cognomina

                  yeah knives are like buying a neck tie for someone else. very personal, too personal really.

                2. re: Winemark

                  is it true that giving knives as a gift is bad luck?

                    1. re: Non Cognomina

                      Never give a knife as a wedding gift in Germany - it represents a "cutting" of the marriage - so I am told (by Germans).

                      1. re: wak

                        It is bad luck in other cultures as well to give a knife as a gift.

                    2. re: floydramp

                      Italians believe this. If you ever receive a knife as a gift, be sure to give the knife giver some money for it to ward off the bad luck.

                      1. re: Pablo

                        I was taught to put a penny in the box or to give something to cut with the knife.

                      2. re: floydramp

                        Because I AM the chef, It has fallen to me to buy knives for many of my friends when they get married- I battle the kinfe stigma by giving them a penny with each knife- this superstition is new to me, but something about the money/copper to re-imburse the coming bloodshed...

                        When I graduated cooking school, my friends and family got me nothing... sigh. BUt my folks did help me buy my equipment and sponsored many of my experiments- they benefited from those, too. What I wanted most of all, though was to eat at the kind of restaurant no cook can ever afford to go to on their own.

                        While I was in school, My grandmother paid for me to get my knives engraved- it was an extremely practical and beautiful gift and I thank her everytime I pick up my knives.

                        1. re: lunchbox

                          where did you get your knives engraved? i really want to do that.

                          1. re: asm305

                            I was in Highland Park, IL at the time... just about any jewler can do it... if their engraver is large enough and powerful enough.

                            To my continuing chagrin, my initials are upside down on my 10" chef's knife because it was too big to fit fully into their machine.

                    3. I was gonna say a really GOOD chef's knife OR a knife jacket to carry his gadgets around in (to and from classes and to job "interviews" afterwards). But those tricky, tricky CHders beat me to it.

                      I wouldn't bother with "useless" gadgets like tomato peelers and apple corers, or (heavens forbid) a garlic press, as a REAL chef would never use those.


                      1. I was thinking also of a pasta machine.

                        1. While cooking this past weekend I was thinking about tools I use all the time which no-one ever suggests as a gift - a kitchen scale and a good thermometer. My scale is digital, measures imperial and metric units and is small enough to tuck away under a cupboard. I use it constantly to get accurate measurements.

                          The thermometer is a probe type. I'm on my second unit, the first being a dud. I was very pleased that this one, a Taylor, gave me a fairly accurate reading of a chicken I was roasting as well as the temperature of a syrup I was cooking for a batch of pickles. It also reads the air temperature correctly. I use thermometers regularly to tell me when meats are cooked, preserves at the correct setting point, custards cooked through, bread baked etc. It's a great tool for any cook.

                          1. I agree with others, a chefs knife, or any other knife is a purchase each cook should make on their own.

                            Like most things these days a gift certificate to a cooks store, or someplace that sells quality knives would be the best choice, that way this cook/chef can buy what they want, and dont get something they might already have, or have no use for.

                            1. a huge box of band-aids and a jar of burn cream. kidding.

                              i never used tons of gadgets when i cooked in a restaurant. imo, it is much more efficient to be streamlined. the only things i always had in my kit aside from knives and steel were: microplane, oyster knife, fish spatula, offset spatula, bench scraper, vegetable peeler, benriner cutter, sharpening stones.

                              a really nice fish spatula with a thin, beveled edge is a great tool b/c it makes it much easier to get the fish out of the saute pan w/o ripping the skin. if you rip the skin, you get yelled at. i think i have a wusthof, which has lasted a long time.

                              if he doesn't already have them, a pair of japanese whetstones is essential for keeping the knives sharp. one medium and one fine. they are $$, but last forever.

                              the other thing you could get him which is a little more personal is a very nice sauce spoon (maybe monogrammed?) for saucing plates.

                              1. How about a 1-year subscription to the magazine "Taunton's Fine Cooking" ?

                                Also buy him a case of wine so that he has some wine to drink as he peruses each issue.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: souschef

                                  Ohh, I like the idea of a subscription. I have a few subscriptions that were given to me as gifts by family members and it's one of my favorite things. Make sure you don't get one to a mag he already gets, though.

                                2. How about a cook book he does not have. That way you can write something nice in the book, and it will be a nice keepsake.

                                  1. I find so many choices about what I use in the kitchen to be very personal - I'm looking for some particular thing. Even down to a spatula or carrot peeler. At the top of that list are knives and cookbooks. I don't think I've ever really used a cookbook bought for me by someone else - but I have returned a lot and bought something else I do want (lesson: don't forget the gift receipt.)

                                    I like the Le Creuset idea - but the one I would recommend is the 5 qt oval which retails over $200 probably. I use it constantly for braises, stews, chili, tomato sauces, etc. Perfect size and shape when cooking for friends. I'm personally not a fan of the smaller tomoato/pumpkin shaped ones. I think they're kind of silly.

                                    One very useful thing that always seems to cost more than it should is a good, stainless steel Mandoline. Basically a professional slicer. A good one costs $150 or so. Kind of a hassle to put together and clean if you're just cooking for a few, but REAL handy if you need to cook for a crowd. Or make really good chips or fries, or if you need to make very exact slices/julienne/etc.

                                    You could go with an All-Clad Saute or non-stick fry pan. I can never use enough of those. All-Clad really is the best, and there are so many less expensive options, people often skimp and get something lower end.

                                    At any rate, I'm always a fan of the gift receipt - just in case.

                                    1. Inexpensive: an Emile Henri salt pig. Cute for the home kitchen.

                                      Expensive: a Bron mandoline. Essential for the professional chef.

                                      1. Inexpensive:
                                        How about a pair of fine Japanese herb scissors? I love mine!

                                        As already noted knives can be a risky proposition. However, a standard 10-inch sushi knife from a high quality producer would make other chefs envious and will last a lifetime. Check out


                                        This one comes with a blade cover and can be customized with the recipients initials.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: bogie

                                          What about a diamond stone to keep his knives honed. If someone gives you a knife, you must give them a coin so you don't sever the friendship.

                                          1. re: mvs

                                            Really? I have not heard that before.


                                            1. re: TexasToast

                                              They are supposed to then give the coin back to you as token "payment" for the knife.

                                        2. A copy of Kitchen Confidential.

                                          1. From least expensive to most expensive, all of which I am willing to bet he does not yet have, and all of them being "indulgent" for their price range:

                                            A subscription to Gastronomica, a jounal on food and culture ($47/year, 4 issues per year - http://www.gastronomica.org ) - This would be particularly synergistic if he is the type that also loves literature and the arts, or has a touch of the "food philosopher" in him. I find their own description to be the best: "Since 2001 we've been renewing the connection between sensual and intellectual nourishment by offering readers a taste of passionate inquiry through scholarship, humor, fiction, poetry, and exciting visual imagery".

                                            A grain/flour mill, either of stone or metal (plate mill), either manual or electric ($80-$400) - a manual mill if he's a romantic or uses time at home to go "back to basics", or an electric one if not. Particularly good for the Italian food fan, some can grind coarsely enough for polenta, but all should be able to grind fine enough for pasta. In Japan there's a saying that when buckwheat is ground to make soba, it "catches a cold" soon after it is milled; I believe the Italians have the same concept.

                                            A copy of "elBulli", Adria Ferran's annually-published cookbook ($200 to $400) - from the chief "gastronaut" of the molecular gastronomy movement comes a wellspring of ideas on where food might be taking us, this is sure to be a book that is missing from his shelf. This is where food meets art and science, a foray into new and uncharted frontiers. Note: as it's printed in several language editions, make sure you get the appropriate one!

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: cgfan

                                              Yes! The El Bulli cookbook! Every serious aspiring chef should be drooling for the set.

                                              The 2003-2004 is about to come out. Getting all four would be generosity beyond compare.

                                            2. All these suggestions are great. I'd also check to see if the school he goes to has a student supply and/or bookstore, if so they may have lists of required items the student should have or they may even have gift cards or certificates that he can use to apply to his future purchases.

                                              1. I think the le cruset is an awesome idea...or how about a beautiful john boos cutting board. i really want one but i'm waiting to get it as a culinary school graduation present....