Stuck on what to give this Holiday Season? Twenty-one of Chicago's top chefs share their best gift ideas!
1. "My favorite book to get any and all cooks for Christmas is the Le Répertoire de la Cuisine, an absolutely essential book for anyone's library." - Tim Graham, Executive Chef, Travelle
2. " I like to give my friends and family Fermented Hot Sauce. A lot of people love hot sauce, and fermenting the peppers beforehand adds complexity. I usually combine some sweeter peppers (like Poblano Peppers) along with hot to balance out the heat and add a deeper flavor." - Paul Virant, Executive Chef Vie, Perennial Virant, Vistro.
3. "My new favorite gift to give people is a Nespresso Machine. I got hooked on this in Spain and now I want everyone to have this espresso machine. It's small, simple to use, easy to clean and tastes great." -- Heather Terhune, Executive Chef, Sable Kitchen and Bar.
4. "To my culinary friends and cooks I'm giving Portland-based Finex's 8-inch Cast Iron Skillets. They are one of the only cast iron skillets still made in the US, and a work of art. I'll also be giving a spice blend we made in tandem with Lior Lev Sercarz of La Boîte that we carry at Publican Quality Meats." -- Paul Kahan, Executive Chef and Partner, One Off Hospitality Group (avec, Big Star, Blackbird, Dove's Luncheonette, Nico Osteria, The Publican, Publican Quality Meats)
5. "This year I am giving the gift of travel. I am taking my family to Thailand with a quick trip tagged on to Hong Kong. Travel is how I learn and I am able to come back to the restaurant feeling inspired. Whenever a young chef asks me for advice on becoming a chef I always say: TRAVEL. It's what opens your mind to all the possibilities: in food, culture and in yourself." -- Rick Bayless, Chef/Owner, Frontera Grill/Topolobampo/XOCO
6. "They just released the full version of 'The Basement Tapes' (all of Bob Dylan's basement recordings with the Band) finally, so I'm excited for that." -- Jared Van Camp, Executive Chef of Element Collective, Nellcôte, RM Champagne Salon, Old Town Social, Leghorn, OWEN + ALCHEMY
7. "I give Old Krupnik to my staff and the one crazy Polish guy that introduced me to this fine drink, Bob Broskey, the Chef de Cuisine at L20. He gave me Olde Krupnik for Christmas one year and it's been our obsession ever since." - Christopher Gawronski, Executive chef, Acanto
8. "I am giving the delicious Alfajores "Alfies" from Lucila's. They are decadent Argentinian Dulce de Lelce Pastries that I first had years ago in Buenos Aires. So perfect!
I am having our Beverage Director, Steve Carrow make his famous Limoncello and having it bottled in vintage bottles for gifts.
Finally, I am giving everyone on my vast list a copy of the Green City Market Cookbook from our farmer's market here in Chicago." -- Carrie Nahabedian, Chef and Co-owner, NAHA and Brindille
9. "I am giving my staff "Douk Douk" knives, designed for the French army and very rarely used. I picked them up on my recent travels around Europe and absolutely love them. I am also a big fan of Mizuno knives and Black Truffles, which I also plan to give out as gifts." - Doug Psaltis, Executive Chef/Partner, RPM Steak
10."This year for Christmas I will be giving out peelers for my kitchen staff who always seem to be stealing mine. For non-industry friends I will be making a charitable donation in their name to a local soup kitchen." - Executive Chef Jared Wentworth, Longman&Eagle, Dusek's, Promontory
11. "I like to give items that I have canned through the year...My mom gets Raspberry Jam, Pickled Ramps for my aunt (she likes Gibson cocktails), Pickled Peppers for my uncle, B & B Pickles for my wife, my dad gets Peach Jam, and my sister gets Cherry Jam. I also bake these killer Chocolate Chip Cookies. To me, giving has to come from things I've made and loved...just like my significant others. Enjoy each other and the presents you give -- it makes the holidays special each year!" -- Sean Sanders Chef/owner, Browntrout
12. It is hard to beat the gift of lots of good, old-fashioned love. "This Christmas is about our four new children brought into our lives. They are our gift. We shall celebrate with them with traditional Southern Cuban Puerto Rican and Venezuelan Food and experience Christmas as it should be: teaching our children the importance of tradition and blended family." -- Art Smith, Executive Chef, Table 52
13. "With my family, gifts vary from year to year, but with my brother Pat, specifically, we always exchange cookbooks that we've suggested to each other. This year, there's so many good ones to choose from, but I'll probably get Pat the Sean Brock cookbook. Every year, I also bake bread and make homemade jam for my neighbors, and I wrap it up and put it on their doorsteps at some point during the holiday season." - Chef Mike Sheerin, Michael Sheerin Consulting
14. "Swiss Quality Vegetable Peeler, a set of three is $10. Always sharp and they can peel almost anything. Available in many bright colors, which you can use for different tasks. And Joyce Chen Kitchen Shears, $20. It is the unlimited scissor. Again, always sharp. Available in many colors." -- Joho, Executive Chef/Proprietor, Everest
15. "I LOVE Christmas! I'm the guy who listens to Christmas music all day-at home, in my car, in my kitchen-and family is very important to me. So this year I am giving my staff time off to spend with their families. Also, you can never go wrong with lots of candy as a stocking stuffer." - Richie Farina, Executive Chef, Moto
16. "I have to agree with Executive Chef of Moto, Richie Farina, here. I LOVE the holidays. This Christmas, I am taking my wife and daughters to the Apostle Islands in Northern Wisconsin. They love it there and family chill time is our real gift." - Homano Cantu, Owner, Moto, Chef/Owner Berrista, Author and Inventor, President of the Board, The Trotter Project
17. "Since I'm in the restaurant business and have so many hipster friends, I'll probably be giving
The Gen-Xers, Millennials & Hipster Guide: 6 Basic Things to Know About Sharing a Kitchen with Housemates more than anything else this Christmas." - Paul Fehribach, Chef/Owner, Big Jones
18. "My team and I are donating toys and items for children of the women at the Haymarket Center. I am also giving a donation to the Jesse White Turkey Drive." -- Phil Stefani, Owner, Phil Stefani Signature Restaurants
19. "I think bottles of Amaro Montenegro would be the gift I would give to my non-industry friends and the Flour and Water cookbook to my industry friends. The Amaro is fantastic and very approachable and the cookbook is one of the better pasta centered cookbooks that works for both the home and professional chef. Happy Holidays!" - Matt Troost, Executive Chef, Charlatan and Three Aces.
20. "I am excited to give a 3D Printer Pen -- one of the most awesome things I've seen in a long time. Some of my favorite food gifts are Colatura-Italian Fish Sauce and Neonata-Italian Anchovy Condiment, both are so delicious!" - Chef Chris Pandel, Executive Chef of B. Hospitality Co.
21. "Bacon Club from Zingerman's in Ann Arbor, Mi. You can do a twelve-month, six-month, quarterly or a three-month bacon delivery. Either way, it's artisanal bacon at it's best, mail ordered to your door." - Gale Gand, Pastry Diva/Partner, Spritzburger
And one more for kicks...
22. "A great artist, Leah Poller, brought sweets from Shatila's Bakery in Michigan to one of my eclectic Dinner Parties-the ones I throw at home in addition to the ones on stage. These Middle Eastern sweets are the perfect gift and so, so good, just dripping with honey! I also always give to the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Mercy Home for Boys and Girls." - Elysabeth Alfano, Executive Producer, The Dinner Party