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Culinary gift ideas

I would appreciate any help in advance. I am looking for an interesting culinary gift for my sister who is a dedicated home cook. She got a very nice chef knive for Christmas, and now it's birthday time. She has all the basics, isn't into wine, and I'm having a hard time thinking of something interesting to give as a gift. Anyone have a good idea? Thanks.

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  1. If she lives near a Williams Sonoma or Sur La Table, maybe a gift certificate with a pamphlet of their cooking class offerings? That way, she can purchase equipment from the store if she likes, or if she's inclined, take a class on how to make something new.

    1. My sister once gave me a gift certificate to a one day class at the Institute for Culinary Education. You could look into something like that. She gave me a certificate for any single class so that I could choose.

      If you want to give an actual item, I think these slate cheese boards and coasters from Brooklyn Slate company are really simple, clean, and beautiful for presentation/ entertaining. http://www.brooklynslate.com/

      1. does she like sushi, and does she make it at home?

        1. These are the things I'd love to have: food mill, pasta machine, Bialetti Moka.

          1. when you say she has all the basics I assume you mean things like food processor, mixer, knives, bowls, etc . . . . .

            I love getting fun/unusual ingredients . . .

            really good balsamic
            salts (smoked, pink, grey, fleur de sel, etc)
            Tahitian vanilla beans
            flours (King Arthur has lots, I love the french flower and the italian "00" flour for breads and pasta/pizza respectively)
            a gift certificate to D'Artangnan (game meats and lots of fun "European" stuff)
            a gift certificate to Rancho Gordo (awesome beans)

            Depending on what type of food she cooks there are other equipment things that are "fun" to have

            a really good mandolin
            a chinois strainer
            past maker (or attachment if she has a kitchenaide - I love my pasta roller attachments)
            le creuset (love them)

            If she entertains

            I can never have enough platters of all shapes and sizes. I now buy 3 of any kind that I get. Mine are almost exclusively all white which makes mixing and matching very easy.

            If you can give me a little more to go on I'm sure I can come up with more ideas. . . . . .

            7 Replies
            1. re: thimes

              I'm not a huge fan of gift certificates, but that is just me. I am leaning away from gifting food because I would find it a more lasting gift if it was something you could use multiple times. On the other hand if there is a 'bacon of the month club' she would like that for sure. She is a definate mid-western home cook so I want to get her something she will actually use. Going in another direction I was thinking of some culinary inspired t-shirts a la "I heart bacon' or something.

              Thanks again.

              1. re: mikey031

                Honestly, this kind of stuff is so personal, it might be best to just ask her. I spent a long time picking out my food mill, and I would have been a little bit disappointed if someone gifted me a different one. Don't get me wrong, any gift is appreciated, but depending on what she plans to use these things for, she might not really want the exact item you pick out, but would possibly feel too guilty to exchange it or buy something similar in addition (e.g., she wants a le creuset to make oblong roasts in, but you get her a smallish round one).

                If people like to be surprised in your family, maybe you could at least subtly float the idea of whatever it is and see how she reacts.

                1. re: mikey031

                  Ruhlman's Charcuterie and a slab of pork belly? She can have a crack at making her own bacon.

                  1. re: wattacetti

                    I love to receive gift certificates, but I'm still a little squeamish about giving them--weird, huh? Love to comparison shop with 'em--oh, but I'm talking about gift certificates/gift cards that can be used at various stores, like an Am Ex card. That way I'm not locked into, say W.S. and their nutty prices.

                  2. re: mikey031

                    mikey031 - there *is* a bacon of the month club. I recommend the one from Zingermann's in Ann Arbor MI (they will ship). A friend just raves about the bacon he gets from them.

                    1. re: Niki in Dayton

                      +1 on the Zingerman's. Look online at their catalog, Zingermans.com You said she was a midwest cook. Is she anywhere near MI? They have hands on baking classes that are great and would make a nice gift.

                    2. re: mikey031

                      thinkgeek.com has bacon gifts
                      and zazzle.com has all kinds of stuff as well

                      if u want actual bacon as a gift Nueskes is reallly goood

                      or a bacon explosion from bbqaddicts.com

                  3. What about Penzey's spices? They have some nice gift sets, it's not something people always think of getting for themselves, especially if they don't live near a store. It would help if we knew what she likes to do, eg. bake, cook, enjoys meat/steaks, has kitchen space, how much you want to spend, whether you'd like something she can use every day (like a good set of steak knives, a bread knife) or on special occasions. One gift I like, that I'd never buy myself, is a special holiday cake plate. For a day to day thing, I'd love a remote control thermometer for meat (so we can walk around, away from the oven and not worry about not hearing it). If she likes bread, I gave my niece the book Artisan Bread in 5 minutes and everything she needs to use it.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: chowser

                      +1 on Penzey's. Now that's one store-specific gift card I'd love!

                      1. re: chowser

                        I definitely agree with this. I've given the Penzeys' "Ethnic Milwaukee" set (which is probably a much smaller gift than what you would give your sister, but they have more expensive, wide-ranging spice packages, too) to several foodie friends, and they've loved them. More recently, I created my own spice package from Penzey's for my mom (I included things like the top-grade Kashmiri saffron, which she probably would not have bought for herself) for her birthday, and she loved it! I think spices are an excellent gift.

                        1. pestle and mortar? a tagine? year's subscription to a monthly cookery magazine? a few of the more unusual baking tins, like madeleine moulds/ramekins/bundt tins/dariole moulds?

                          1. Hi Mikey. I know you didn't fancy any food items because of their lack of longevity. However, I thought I would suggest this anyway. How about a really nice food hamper? There are plenty to choose from, and they don't necessarily all contain just food. This site is good for all sorts of gift hampers - http://www.highlandfayre.co.uk/.

                            Hope this helps

                            1. A gift card is a really good idea. Here are some websites that any foodie and cook would love to get a card from:



                              http://www.gourmetfoodmall.com/ (This site is joint venture of numerous gourmet food sites



                              1. Instead of a gift certificate, have you thought about paying for a class? I'm in London and there are specialist butchers and fishmongers who do a one day or half a day courses in butchery, seafood cookery etc. Could be an option if you know of something that she wants to perfect or get more experience in.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: ultimatepotato

                                  I got a thermapen instant read thermometer as a gift and use it quite a lot - an extravagant "makes it all easier" item. I use it especially for breads,meats, grilling and have subsequently given a couple as gifts. Wow - just checked "google shopping" and one vendor ( that I'm not otherwise familiar with) has them at about 65% off......


                                  1. re: janeh

                                    That's something I'd use often--nice gift idea. I have too many thermometers I've picked up over the years so would feel bad getting myself another. A gift would be perfect.

                                    1. re: janeh

                                      Wow, that thermopen sounds too good to be true -- and it is. I asked my husband (The Duke of Electronics) to look at the vendor. Site registered on 8/25/11; only contact info is an e-mail address; site is reg to a suite in L.A.

                                      Oh, and this: "In an effort to keep our prices extremely low, Electronics Emporium exclusively processes JCB cards at preferred merchant rates. While this helps you to pay less money, it also means we are unable to accept other forms of payment."

                                      (JCB = Japan Credit Bureau)

                                      1. re: DuchessNukem

                                        Oh,well - glad you checked out the site ( as I would before ordering anything!). Anyway, the thermapen is a pricey item but a great tool to have. I think that mine came from the King Arthur Flour site when they had a sale.

                                        1. re: janeh

                                          For the record, I was bummed that the site was a bum; wasn't a criticism of your research. I had brief happy dreams of stabbing a discount Thermapen into everything around me: meats, casseroles, the cats, my husband. :)

                                  2. I've gone to two weddings recently where the couple were accomplished home cooks. Gave both a nice big Boos cutting board. Worked out great because the cutting board seems to be one of those basics where everyone has a servicable version, but pretty much nobody has taken the time to splurge on the nice version that's going to make prep time even more pleasurable.

                                    1. Did she like the chef kinife? If she did, I would get her other knives from the same collection.

                                      1. William and Bounds Chrome Nutmeg Twister !
                                        Check on Amazon, good price I thought !
                                        I love mine and use it daily ~ it's well made
                                        and works beautifully. I nearly swooned at the smell
                                        of fresh nutmeg when I opened the package.
                                        AND I gifted one to MY sister the foodie, and she loves it, too :-)

                                        1. You have to find an incredibly useful, unique and affordable culinary gift for your sister. It's not hard though. Do your homework first. Check if her cooking utensils are complete or not yet. Whatever is lacking, that's one idea. To add some "spice", include a unique cook book. Place them in gift hampers: inside it is your personalise dedication. You can have more ideas just in case you'll find this helpful: http://www.bradfordsbakers.com/