21 Presents for the Person Who Became a Home Chef During Quarantine

editor@purewow.com (PureWow)
·9 min read

We all have that one friend or family member who suddenly transformed into a cooking enthusiast during 2020’s never-ending quarantine. You know, the one who pivoted from takeout every night to sous vide every day. The friend who gained a newfound appreciation for Ina Garten around mid-March. And the cousin who is still making fresh sourdough bread (and hasn’t stopped posting about it on Instagram). This holiday season, treat kitchen connoisseur in your life to one of these 21 gifts that will take them from amateur home cook to pro-level chef in no time.

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1. Chasing Flavor: Techniques and Recipes to Cook Fearlessly by Dan Kluger and Nick Fauchald

For the recipe follower

Dan Kluger, chef of NYC restaurant Loring Place, knows his way around a to-die-for recipe. His debut cookbook—packed with simple yet flavorful produce-forward dishes—is designed to help you master technique while becoming a more flexible and creative cook in the process.

$26 at Amazon

2. Our Place Always Pan

For the master multitasker

It’s no secret we love this do-it-all skillet. The nonstick, nontoxic pan comes with a modular lid, custom nesting wooden spatula and steamer basket; can replace eight pieces of cookware (at a fraction of the price); and comes in five soothing colors. Even better, the brand is BIPOC-owned. Buy it for your city-dwelling friend who’s obsessed with one-pot meals and is also short on storage space.

Buy it ($145)

3. Burlap & Barrel Complete Spice Collection

For the flavor enthusiast

Whether you’re buying this spice collection set for Mom who’s been using the same bulk tub of granulated garlic since 1988 or your cousin who loves to go on about the differences between chile peppers, this set will please the most serious of flavor seekers. Each of the 35 single origin spices—ranging from cinnamon to sumac—is sustainably and ethically sourced, and tastes way better than anything you’ll find at the grocery store.

Buy it ($308; $290)

4. Caraway Home Cookware Set

For the eclectic decorator

They’ve talked about ditching their stained aluminum pots and pans for years? This four-piece set in a sunny marigold hue will liven up their kitchen and their cooking. Each piece features a slick ceramic nonstick finish and an even-heating aluminum core, plus it’s oven safe up to 550°F and works on all types of burners. The set also comes with a nifty magnetic pan rack and canvas lid holder for tidy storage.

Buy it ($395)

5. Vitamix Professional-Grade Blender

For the smoothie-a-day chef

You won’t get creamier purees or, well, smoother smoothies from any other blender. Vitamix’s pro-level machine combines a high-power motor and stainless-steel blades to blend even the toughest ingredients, and the 64-ounce pitcher can handle everything from a single-serving smoothie to a full batch. Basically, this is one appliance they’ll use every single day.

$449 at Amazon

6. Three Bluebirds Reusable Swedish Dishcloth

For the climate conscious

Your sister says she cringes every time she uses a paper towel. Get her a few of these adorable, reusable, eco-friendly alternatives. Each cellulose-based towel can absorb 20 times its weight in liquid; is safe for granite, stainless steel and glass surfaces; and air dries quickly (without getting the funky smell your kitchen sponge does). A single cloth can replace 17 rolls of paper towels, plus they come in a bunch of sweet prints and yes, we’re partial to the adorable chickens.

Buy it ($7)

7. Material The (mini) reboard Snack Set

For the snacker

While a large cutting board is nice, a tiny one is essential for slicing and dicing midday treats like cheese and produce. “I want this itty-bitty set because I LOVE slicing fruits for snacks,” says senior editor Cristina Gutierrez, who already uses Material’s larger cutting boards on a regular basis. The aptly named Snack Set comes with a mini cutting board made from eco-friendly sugarcane and recycled plastic, plus a four-inch paring knife as the cherry on top.

Buy it ($65)

8. East Fork Fuchsia Otomi Table Runner

For the hostess with the mostess

Chances are, a gorgeous creation from East Fork Pottery has already graced your Instagram feed. The Asheville, North Carolina ceramics company is known for its covetable, colorful dinnerware, but did you know it also curates unique tableware from other small makers too? This hand embroidered Oaxacan runner will be the pièce de résistance of your BFF’s next tablescape.

Buy it ($200)

9. The Original Baking Steel

For the pizza lover

They’ve perfected that naturally fermented dough, now it’s time to nail the bake. This carbon steel slab—which is like a pizza stone on steroids—won’t convert their oven into a wood-fired stove, but it’s the next best thing. By increasing the thermal conductivity in the oven, it cooks up crispy, airy pizza crust and sourdough loaves. Not to mention, it’s an easy way to upgrade frozen pizzas too.

Buy it ($89)

10. Instant Vortex Plus Air Fryer 7-in-1 Oven with Rotisserie

For the French fry connoisseur

An air fryer gives you the same texture and flavor as a deep-fryer but without all the unhealthy oil and messy cleanup. This one has the capability to bake, roast, toast, broil, dehydrate and even rotisserie a whole chicken. Says managing editor Rachel Gulmi, “I already have an air fryer…but I really want this one, because it’s bigger and does so many things!”

$119 at Amazon

11. Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Stone Pro Sharpening Stone

For the wannabe butcher

Ask any chef and they’ll tell you that a dull kitchen knife has the potential to ruin a meal…or at least the meal prep. This whetstone set, which is what the pros use to sharpen knives, comes with a dual-sided stone for sharpening blades, plus a rubber-footed tray to hold it securely on your countertop.

Buy it ($80)

12. The Book on Pie by Erin Jeanne McDowell

For the baker extraordinaire

We’re slightly biased, since Erin McDowell is PureWow’s own recipes editor, but this is the only pie book your star-baker will ever need. Seriously: There’s an entire chapter devoted to crust, as well as detailed how-to’s that will make crimping and filling techniques easy as, well, pie. Oh, there are also drool-worthy recipes for masterpieces like peanut butter cream pie with raspberry meringue and Reuben pie.

$25 at Amazon

13. Dot and Army Bread Bag and Bowl Cover Set

For the sourdough baker

They’ve already stocked up on proofing baskets and artisan flour, but there’s one more way to take their loaves to the next level. These cloth bowl covers pop over mixing bowls when it’s time to let the dough rise (buh bye, plastic wrap), and the matching drawstring bags will keep boules and baguettes from going stale after they come out of the oven.

Buy it ($28)

14. Breville Joule Sous Vide

For the tech-savvy chef

This top-rated sous vide device connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth, so you can literally cook short ribs from the couch. It works by circulating a water bath at a constant temp, so nothing is ever under- or over-cooked. We like this model because it’s small enough to fit in a kitchen drawer when not in use.

$199 at Amazon

15. KitchenAid Classic Stand Mixer

For your great British baker

This stand mixer needs no introduction. But in case you’ve never heard anyone brag about their KitchenAid, its tilt-head design allows easy access to the bowl; it’s sturdy enough to last a lifetime; the 10 speeds can do hours of work in minutes; and it also comes with a flat beater, dough hook and wire whip. Plus, you can buy all sorts of different attachments for it (like a pasta maker, food processor and spiralizer).

Buy it ($260)

16. Made In Knife Set

For the budding sous chef

This set contains the essentials for proper slicing and dicing: a chef’s knife for everyday tasks, a Santoku knife for hefty vegetables, a paring knife for precision jobs and a utility knife for slicing bread, hard cheeses and meats (among other culinary delights). They’re all fully forged, aka made from one solid piece of stainless steel, so they’ll age gracefully.

Buy it ($307)

17. OXO Silicone Baking Mat

For the cookie monster

A home baker can never have enough of these silicone mats, which turn any baking sheet into a nonstick surface and replace all that parchment paper that would end up in the trash. It’s dishwasher-safe but also easy enough to clean by hand and it works for sweet and savory recipes alike. (Buy two—including one for you—is what we’re saying.)

Buy it ($20)

18. Stasher Reusable Silicone Half-Gallon Bag

For the meal-prepper

Instead of single-use plastic bags, gift your meal-prepping co-worker a few of Stasher’s reusable storage bags. They’re airtight, plastic-free and made from food-grade silicone that comes in an array of pretty colors. Plus, they can transition from the fridge to the freezer…to the microwave, the oven (up to 400°F) and yes, they can even be tossed in boiling water. Can a regular baggie do that? We didn’t think so.

Buy it ($20)

19. Zero Waste Cocktail Kit

For the mixologist

It’s five o’clock somewhere…and it’s also 2020, so we could all use a strong drink. This set from Package Free includes a silicone spherical ice tray, stainless steel reusable straws and a mason jar cocktail shaker all wrapped up in a cotton tote. Cheers to that.

Buy it $49

20. GIR Ultimate Tool Set

For the gadget guru

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of breaking in a brand-new set of cooking utensils, and the ones from GIR (it stands for “get it right”) are among our favorites. Why? They’re made with 100 percent pharmaceutical-grade silicone, so there’s no chance of molding, cracking, staining or funky smells. They’re heat-resistant up to 550°F, come in any color you could desire and have a lifetime guarantee. Get mixing.

Buy it ($80)

21. The Caker Lemon Strawberry Poppy Seed Cake Kit

For the person who loves a shortcut

This one goes out to that person you know who buys boxed brownies and tries to pass them off as homemade, no shame. Gift them a major upgrade in the form of these inventive and—dare we say?— chic cake mixes from The Caker, a New Zealand-based cake company. Each mix, including this lemon strawberry poppy seed number, comes with fun add ons like freeze-dried fruit and a sweet glaze, plus they’re vegan-optional. Oh, and it just might *actually* pass for homemade this time.

Buy it ($25)

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