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Aug 25, 2014

5 Perfect Gifts for the Chef in Your Life

Is there a person in your life who loves to cook? Whether it’s your mom, dad, brother, sister or significant other, there are certain tools serious chefs need to cook their best.

Below, you’ll find a list of five must-have items for the chef in your life. We’ve included an option in every price range, so whether you’ve got a few dollars to spend or few hundred, we’ve got you covered!

  1. Quality 12-inch skillet $$$

The 12-inch skillet is one of the most versatile tools a chef has at his or her disposal. Great for everything from roasting poultry and browning red meats to braising and reducing sauces, a well-made stainless skillet is a must have for any professional or aspiring chef. Seeing as a high-quality skillet will set you back anywhere from $70 to $120, it comes in as one of our more expensive gift ideas. That said, it will last a lifetime so it’s worth every penny.

  1. Quality knives $$ – $$$$

A good set of knives can help make cooking more efficient and a whole lot more enjoyable. The trick is finding the right ones for the job. A few knives that should be in every chef’s block are a paring knife, chef’s knife, cleaver, serrated utility knife and a fillet knife. We suggest looking at stainless steel options from some well-known brands like Chicago Cutlery, Forschner, Henckels, Wüstof, Messermeister, Global and Shun. Chicago Cutlery and Forschner tend to be more moderately priced while still offering good bang for your buck.

  1. KitchenAid® stand mixer $$$ – $$$$

KitchenAid stand mixers are on nearly every baker’s wish list, and for good reason. They’re great for making everything from cakes and pastries to artisan breads and pizza crusts. If the person you’re buying for bakes nearly every week, a KitchenAid stand mixer could be exactly what he or she needs. One can be had for roughly $160 to $400 depending on the model you choose. If your chef is planning on baking breads and thick doughs, you’ll want to get a heavy-duty model with plenty of power.

  1. Cast iron cookware $$ – $$$

Cast iron pots and pans are known for their ability to hold heat. They’re great for searing meats; frying up poultry; cooking succulent slices of bacon; and even helping create perfect, bubbly pizza crusts. They can take a little longer to heat up and cool down, but you’re guaranteed even heat distribution throughout the pan. They also work just as well on top of a burner as in the oven or above a fire, which makes them one of the most versatile pieces of cookware you can buy. Lodge is probably the most well-known brand and can be found in just about any kitchen section at a big-box store or specialty cook shop. Depending on the pan you buy, prices can range from around $15 to $50. We recommend starting with a classic cast iron skillet – around $20.

  1. Slicers, peelers and graters $ – $$

These small-ticket items are often ignored when putting together a kitchen. However, having these quality tools handy can make a big difference when it’s time to cook. A good mandoline slicer is excellent for making homemade potato chips, slicing tomatoes and onions extra thin, and a number of other tasks. Graters can be used to shred tough blocks of cheese and shave off citrusy peels to add some zest to your cooking. A comfortable, well-made peeler saves your chef tons of time and effort when prepping vegetables for soups, casseroles, desserts and a whole lot more. Oxo Good Grips sells affordable, well-made versions of all these tools. Depending on where you shop, you can find them for around $5 to $20.

Want to become a chef yourself?
Take a moment to explore all the culinary programs offered at IOT. Pretty soon, you too could be using some of the great items listed above.