Welcome to the 2017 OSK Foodie Gift Guide! Several years ago, we downsized our gift-giving traditions for our little family while we intentionally explored minimalism. In that process we adopted a modified version of gifting “Something You Want / Something You Need / Something to Wear / Something to Read”, but we swap out “Something to Wear” with “Something Creative”. We needn’t a thing to wear, but we’re always on the hunt for tools to help us push the right sides of our brains.
I’ve rounded up some gift guide options in these categories for the foodie or home chef in your life. There are ideas for all abilities and budgets. At the end you’ll find some of my favorite food-related charities because ’tis the season for giving in all ways.
Without further ado, I present you with our gift guide for people who love to eat! Please note that some of these are affiliate links, which means we make a small commission if you make a purchase using these links. Thank you for supporting OSK – we are grateful beyond measure. xoxo
Jump to Something They Want → Kitchen tools and accessories that are both practical and beautiful.
Jump to Something They Need → Cooking and baking essentials that every home chef should have in their kitchen. Everything from rolling pins and mixing cups to cookware.
Jump to Something Creative → Every foodie needs a spark of inspiration from time to time, and here you’ll find my favorite things to get the creative juices flowing.
Jump to Something To Read → A collection of tried-and-true favorites for foodies and home chefs of all abilities. Specialty cookbooks with gorgeous photos and charming stories, tommes dedicated to the science of cookery, and novels that aren’t so much about cooking, per se, but the culture of living, loving, and making food.
Jump to the Giving Back Guide → No gift guide would be complete without a few ways to donate. Giving does good and makes you feel good. I’ve listed some of my favorite charities for foodie related donations.
Home Chef & Foodie Gift Guide: Something They Want
Chemex We. Love. Our. Chemex. And if you have a coffee
snob fan in your life that’s fond of a French press, they’ll love a Chemex too. It’s a pour-over coffee vessel with a finish that’s similar in body and flavor to a standard drip machine, but bolder and smoother.
Marble Butter Keeper We’ve had this marble butter keeper from Crate and Barrel for years and it’s in my top 5 most-used-and-loved but still sort of ridiculous kitchen items. It keeps my butter at the perfect temperature for spreading on crusty bread. It’s beautiful, ergonomic, and Julia Child’s used one. Reason enough!
Dutch Dough Whisk Do you know a bread baker in your life? A dutch dough whisk would make a gorgeous and inexpensive stocking stuffer. I use it primarily for preparing no-knead bread dough, but it’s useful in whisking pancake and waffle batter, simple cake batters, and so much more. Elegant and useful? Done.
Boos Block Cutting Board Boos cutting board are beautiful, durable, and (given their proper love and care) will last a lifetime. The wood is sustainably sourced and their production methods are environmentally friendly.
Handcarved Tulipwood Ice Cream Scoop How gorgeous would this ice cream scooper look peeking out of the top of a stocking for a beloved foodie in your life? These hand carved beauties are made by a former co-worker’s husband in Virginia. The craftsmanship is stunning, and supporting an individual artisan makes the holiday season so much merrier.
Instant Pot Need I say more? Okay, fine. I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of the IP for things like roasts or pork shoulders. But to get the perfect batch of beans? To boil pasta in a flash? To make a no-fail cheesecake? For all those reasons and more, an Instant Pot is a must.
Salt Cellar This is another one of those seemingly pretentious, fussy kitchen tools, but it’s right up there with a butter keeper as one of my most coveted kitchen items. I have three (sea salt, kosher salt, maldon) and I use them all the time. You can easily dip a measuring spoon into the container, and it’s the perfect size for adding just a pinch of salt at the stove or the table.
Home Chef & Foodie Gift Guide: Something They Need
French Rolling Pin A good quality french rolling pin is a must for tarts and pastries and pizza doughs and galettes – basically for everything you really, really want to make and eat. Tapered french style rolling pins give the user maximum control over the dough, and there is a lovely tactile experience using one of these that can’t be replicated with a traditional American pin.
Cuisinart Food Processor I use my food processor all the time – it comes in handy for everything from meatballs to pastry crusts to dips. This is the classic Cuisinart model, and it will serve any home cook well for years (if not decades).
Stainless Steel Measuring Cups and Measuring Spoons I upgraded my measuring cups and spoons this year to these sets from Hudson Essentials and I love them so hard. The cups include 2/3 and 3/4 cup measures – can we all say huzzah!
Lodge Cast Iron Skillet Cast iron is inexpensive, durable, versatile, and easily maintained. I almost exclusively use my cast iron for everything from whole chickens to pan seared vegetables to sweet treats. A well seasoned, properly cared for cast iron skillet will last you a lifetime.
Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven or Le Creuset Dutch Oven Like cast iron, a properly cared for dutch oven is a timeless, versatile kitchen vessel that every home chef needs. It’s perfect for roasts, stews, risotto, and even deep frying. This is a classic cooking gift every home chef can use and love.
Classic Thermapen Instant Read Thermometer Get your temps right every single time with an instant read thermometer.
Victorinox Kitchen Shears These are an inexpensive, practical stocking stuffer for just about any foodie or home chef.
Green Pan Ceramic Non-Stick Cookware For those few items that cast iron isn’t 100% suited for (scrambled eggs, marinara) non-stick cookware is a must. I desperately need to upgrade my non-stick cookery and Green Pan is at the top of the list.
Home Chef & Foodie Gift Guide: Something Creative
Voluspa Baltic Amber A love a good candle to calm down and clear my mind while I’m recipe planning or cleaning the kitchen after dinner. My BFF gifted me this soothing, subtle scent a few years ago and it’s been my exclusive choice ever since.
Amazon Tap If like me no cooking session is complete without rocking Hamilton in the background, listening to a podcast, or catching up on a favorite audiobook, a bluetooth speaker is a must. I love that the Tap is portable and can easily move with me to different workspaces in my kitchen (and the rest of the house).
Juicer Juicing is a great way to experiment in the kitchen and get that creativity flowing. I’m neither a fan nor an advocate of juicing diets, but fresh juice is a nutritious part of a balanced whole foods diet. I experiment with combos I’d otherwise never consume, like beet juice with apples and parsley (YUM).
Spiralizer I tend not to purchase kitchen items that are single-purpose, but I’m finally caving and make the exception for a spiralizer. It might do just one thing, but it does that one thing exceptionally well, and noodle vegetables have become an increasingly large part of our diet over the past few years.
Mandoline Slicer This is probably my most creative kitchen tool and I use it endlessly. Vegetable salads, squash noodles, french fries, slaws, fruit pies – the list goes on and on. I’ve had the OXO Good Grips mandolin going on ten years, but it’s time for an upgrade and this Swissmar is my wish list.
KitchenAid Pasta Attachment I’m generally a pretty lazy cook and homemade pasta is a stretch. But I’d be a lot bendier with a pasta attachment. And you know what’s better than homemade pasta? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Penguin Sodastream We love our sodastream, and not just because Cam is a sparkling water addict. Sparkling water on demand means that homemade sodas, fizzy cocktails, and more become just that much easier.
Home Chef & Foodie Gift Guide: Something to Read
The Flavor Bible Every new recipe I develop starts here, with a deep dive into The Flavor Bible. It’s not a traditional cookbook, as you won’t find any recipes. I think it’s best described as an encyclopedia of flavor affinities. It’s incredibly comprehensive and an invaluable resource for creative chefs who prefer to cook on the fly.
How to Cook Everything This is the cookbook I often gift to aspiring home chefs who don’t know where to start, young college students, or really anyone interested in learning the basics of cooking. It’s full of simple ingredients, easy techniques, and thorough tutorials. But don’t let the basics fool you – this is an indispensable library of recipes, resources, and tips that home cooks at any level can benefit from.
How to Bake Everything Naturally, this is the companion piece to How to Cook Everything. Last year I set myself the task of learning more about the art, and science, of baking and Mark Bittman does not disappoint in this incredibly comprehensive collection. You won’t find glossy photographs and fancy recipes, but you will learn the basic process to bake, well, everything. Plus tons of variations and twists on the classics, presented in clear, easy to read language with handy charts and conversion tables.
The Food Lab J. Kenji Lopez-Alt dives into the science of modern American cooking in straightforward and easy to understand language with a laugh-out-load approach. As an MIT grad and trained chef, he easily distills the whys and hows of his processes, often upending classic methodology along the way (no, you don’t need to baste a roasted chicken). His book is worth buying for the product recommendations alone, but with 1,000 pages and hundreds of recipes, there’s something here for everyone.
Anything by Michael Pollan I’ve read his entire library of work, most more than once, and probably watched every documentary he’s been in. Yeah, I’m a Pollan fan girl. You can start at the very beginning with The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which changed my entire worldview on food and consumption. For a quicker, but no less gratifying, read, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual is a winner. The Pollan Family Table is a beautiful but practical cookbook packed with easy, approachable recipes made with real, whole foods. If you’re a fan of just eating real food, any of these books will become a beloved part of your kitchen library.
Sweetbitter A few weeks after I heard the interview with author Stephanie Danler on NPR, my good friend and favorite bibliophile texted me a photo of Sweetbitter and said “You have got to read this book!”. Any recommendation from Maggie is a must-read, so I downloaded it the next day. And finished it the day after. It’s decidedly a work of fiction, but Danler draws on her considerable history working in NYC restaurants and bars to create rich, realistic, love-to-hate characters that will equally charm and disgust you. And if you’ve ever worked in a restaurant, you’ll love how much candor she brings to the page.
Home Chef & Foodie Giving Back Guide: Charities for Food Related Donations
DC Central Kitchen DCCK is a community kitchen with a multi-faceted mission that includes culinary job training for unemployed adults, food waste reduction, healthy school meal initiatives, and so much more. When I was an event planner I worked extensively with DC Central Kitchen and their catering branch Fresh Start. I can personally attest to the amazing work of this organization and the dedication of their staff and culinary graduates. They run a tight but efficient ship and every dollar matters.
Your Local Food Bank Donating to your local food bank or meal pantry means that your donation is going to the heart of your community. Feeding America is a nationwide network of food banks. Find your local branch here.
World Central Kitchen Chef Jose Andres founded World Central Kitchen after the 2010 Haitian earthquake and it has evolved into something like “chefs without borders”. The organization utilizes a network of chefs around the globe and concentrates its efforts towards social enterprise, jobs, health, and education. Most recently, after the devastating hurricanes in Texas and Puerto Rico, WCK added disaster relief to their mission. They’ve served over two million meals to those displaced by natural disaster in just the last few months alone.
Meals on Wheels Millions of seniors in America face the threat of hunger, and a quarter of them live alone. Meals on Wheels delivers meals to housebound individuals, most of whom are the elderly. But it’s more than just a nutritious meal – it’s a network of community and companionship that positively impacts the health and well-being of the clients they serve.
Share Our Strength One in six children in America is food insecure. Share Our Strength connects children with food assistance and nutrition programs to meet needs such as breakfast before school and meal assistance during summer breaks. They also proactively work with low-income families to teach them they skills they need to stretch every penny, from meal planning to strategic shopping to cooking classes. They frequently parter with chefs and restaurants to host culinary events across the country that benefit their programs.