It's most wonderful time of the year--and the most stressful for those with artisan food lovers on their holiday gift lists. So we asked some of our favorite celebrity chefs, restauranteurs, critics, bloggers and food magazine editors what they would give the foodies in their lives. From salt tins and salami to Japanese charcoal barbecue grills and a $450 sausage stuffer and grinder, their ideas will hopefully help inspire your creativity--and if not, at least they'll stir your appetite.
NAME: Lockhart Steele
TITLE: Founder, Eater.com
GIFTS: Porchetta salt ($7.95 per tin), Eataly white truffles ($6.80 per gram), Island Creek oysters ($150 per bag of 100)
WHAT MAKES THEM SPECIAL: Porchetta's salt tins, from New York City-based chef Sara Jenkins, are "amazing Tuscan-inspired trays of goodness," Steele, who also runs Curbed.com, says. "For those who live in NYC, procure white truffles, mason jar and one dozen eggs. Place eggs in jar and nestle truffle atop. Seal jar. Tie red ribbon bow around mason jar. Your recipient will have the best eggs of their life in approximately one week's time." As for the oysters? "This is the holiday present I buy for myself every year," Steele adds. "A bag of Wellfleets and you've got the perfect New Year's Eve."
NAME: Adam Platt
TITLE: Restaurant critic, New York magazine
GIFTS: Suisin Special Inox Gyutou Orange Handle knife ($225, Korin.com), "In Season" ($22, Amazon)
WHAT MAKES THEM SPECIAL: "For macho kitchen types," Platt says, "I'd recommend a badass, macho kitchen knife like the Suisin Special Inox Gyutou with orange handle." The blade was made using a special-grade steel with a much higher carbon content than other stainless steel versions but still contains stain and rust-resisting elements. "For the more peaceable food aesthetes, my gift of choice this year is the excellent new book 'In Season' by my colleagues Robin Raisfeld and Rob Patronite."
NAME: Dana Cowin
TITLE: Editor-in-chief, Food & Wine
GIFTS: Soy salt ($36, ChefShop.com), Dumbo Delicious bread mix, ($6.99, BakedBetter.com), coffee subscription ($15 per month, Mistobox.com), beef brisket ($260, Lobels.com)
WHAT MAKES THEM SPECIAL: Artisan soy salt from Shoyu is "perfect for the moderate-foodie who just wants to improve a standard meal quickly," says Cowin. "It adds a delightful crunch, and has two flavors: soy and salty at once." Dumbo's organic bread mix is for those "who want to take part in the artisan bread movement without too much of a commitment." Mistobox, meanwhile, offers "a fabulous beans-of-the-month club for coffee geeks," she says. "I love sending a new coffee every month, and this one has beans from new micro-roasters, like Oregon's Lone Pine." And for the meat maven, a whole beef brisket from Lobel's of New York is "the perfect winter indulgence. It's seasoned with a peppery dry rub then slow-smoked with mesquite and apple wood for tender, juicy and flavorful meat." Bonus: It arrives fully cooked--just wrap in foil, heat and serve.
NAME: Tom Colicchio
TITLE: Judge, "Top Chef"; co-founder, Gramercy Tavern
GIFT: Charcoal barbecue grill ($239, Korin.com)
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL: Looking for a gift to impress a grill connoisseur? "Japanese charcoal barbecue grill," Colicchio says flatly. The co-founder of Gramercy Tavern, Craft restaurants and judge on Bravo's "Top Chef" recommends the 9-by-21-inch (medium) version.
NAME: Alan Sytsma
TITLE: Senior editor, Grub Street
GIFT: Bincho water bottle ($125, sortofcoal.com)
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL: "In addition to all of the items on Grub Street's Gift Guide, I'm obsessed with these Bincho water bottles from Denmark," Sytsma says. "Supposedly the charcoal in the bottle purifies the water. I have no idea if that's actually true, but the bottles are definitely a lot cooler than a Brita."
NAME: Paul Levy
TITLE: Author who coined the term "foodie"
GIFTS: "The Food of Spain," Claudia Roden; "Consider the Fork," Bee Wilson ($29, $17, Amazon)
WHAT MAKES THEM SPECIAL: Both books by Roden (with whom Levy co-chairs the annual Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery) and Wilson "feed your curiosity as much as your tummy," Levy says.
NAME: Guy Fieri
TITLE: Food Network host, "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives"
GIFTS: Wine (Backroom Wines), Michael Symon's sausage stuffer and grinder ($450, Westonproducts.com), Eataly gift certificate (Eataly.com), Joe's stone crab (from $136, JoesStoneCrab.com), Armandino Batali salami (from $15, salumicuredmeats.com)
WHAT MAKES THEM SPECIAL: For those looking to satisfy their foodie dudes, Guy Fieri's gift recommendations are pretty killer. First stop is Backroom Wines, which offers a custom-built home wine list that Fieri says will "blow your friends away." Fieri calls New York's Eataly "culinary Disneyland." If you stop in to grab a gift certicate, the Food Network host warns, "plan to spend the entire day there!" Joe's Stone Crab is one of Fieri's "favorite joints to visit in Miami." But if you can't make it to South Beach, he advises to "have your own stone crab party at home--they'll ship it!" Armandino Batali, owner of Seattle's Salumi Artisan Cured Meats, ships, too, "but if you can, do yourself a favor and make the trip" to meet him, Fieri says. "Awesome dude and killer salami! P.S. Tell him I sent you." And for the hardcore cook who has almost everything, Michael Symon's $449 sausage stuffer and grinder might fit the bill. Says Fieri: "Michael Symon is a fantastic chef so of course he would have a fantastic sausage stuffer!"
NAME: John Barricelli
TITLE: Owner, SoNo Baking Company
GIFT: Harry & David's monthly gourmet fruit (from $69, HarryandDavid.com)
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL: Looking for a foodie gift that lasts throughout the year? Try Harry & David's gourmet fruit of the month club. "Their fruit is always perfect, always ripe," Barricelli says. "Every year, I wish someone would give me that." But the third-generation baker, who worked for Martha Stewart before launching his own company, says he usually bakes homemade cakes and cookies as gifts for his family and friends. "What I do about a week before Christmas is drive around and hand-deliver fresh panettone and stollen," Barricelli says.
NAME: Lisa Gosselin
TITLE: Editorial director, Eating Well
GIFT: Infused homemade vinegar (Cost varies, EatingWell.com)
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL: If you want to give a foodie a gift that's truly personal, and less costly, Gosselin's Vermont-based magazine offers dozens of recipes for healthy homemade holiday gifts, including Mississippi spiced pecans, fig-and-flax thumbprint cookies and this raspberry and thyme-infused vinegar, decanted in a beautiful decorative bottle. "It will get used," Gosselin says. "And you're guaranteed it won't get returned."
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