Training to become a professional chef takes time, energy and a lot of different gear. If you have a budding cook on your holiday gift list, take a look at the following roundup of the best gifts for an aspiring chef, from stocking stuffers to big-ticket items:
A Quality Chef's Knife
The most important tools in any chef's arsenal are knives. There are plenty of different styles, weights and lengths available. Personal preference generally plays the strongest role in determining which blade is best, so if you're looking to buy a knife as a gift, it's a smart idea to go shopping with the recipient so he or she can test out several makes and models to find one that works best.
Other Tools of the Trade
Essential tools and accessories are some of the best gifts for an aspiring chef. Every cook needs a durable cutting board that is easy to sanitize and won't slip around. A polypropylene cutting board is a great option, especially if it comes in a variety of sizes. Other indispensable tools include a high-quality vegetable peeler, a set of dry measuring cups and spoons, heatproof silicone spatulas, a nonstick baking mat (such as Silpat), wooden spoons, absorbent dish towels, a set of locking tongs, a digital kitchen scale, an instant-read thermometer and a microplane zester.
These items make great stocking stuffers, or you could put together a culinary-themed gift basket by arranging several items in a large stainless-steel mixing bowl.
Herbs and Spices
Having an assortment of herbs and spices is key to great cooking. Pick up a selection of top-quality spices at a specialty shop, or present the aspiring chef in your life with a fresh herb starter kit, complete with seeds, soil and a greenhouse dome. Airtight spice jars are another great gift idea since they keep herbs and spices fresher longer than the plastic containers most of them are sold in.
All aspiring chefs need a solid library of cookbooks to bolster their skills in the kitchen and build their recipe repertoire. No chef can have too many cookbooks, so get creative with the different types of food that can be found in each one you give as a gift.
Presentation is an important part of cooking. All great chefs appreciate attractive serveware, even if they are reluctant to splurge on it themselves, which is why it's one of the best gifts for an aspiring chef. Le Creuset is a trusted brand that makes timeless, classy pieces such as stoneware petite au gratin dishes that come in 14 different colors. For aspiring pastry chefs, look for decorative cake stands, whimsical pie plate trivets or a set of ramekins for lava cakes, soufflés and crême brulée.
Buying kitchen must-haves is practical and keeps the aspiring chef on your gift list fired up to cook delicious meals all year round.
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