What should you get for your favorite cooks, hosts, and foodies this holiday season?? Well, I just happen to be the perfect person to answer that question. While the holidays might look a little different this year, that doesn’t mean you can’t express how much you care about your loved ones with a thoughtful gift. Whether you’re keeping things minimal this year or you’re looking to make a grand gesture, I have food-themed gift ideas that’ll cover everyone.

For The Aspiring Cook In Your Life

For those in your life who love to cook or want to learn how, give them the gift of a virtual cooking class this year! In my eyes, giving your loved ones an experience beats a physical gift any day. This year, I’m offering virtual holiday cooking classes through Zoom! Sign up here for a 20% off discount, now through December 31st. Whether it’s a date, an intimate group or a dozen of your closest friends, let’s chat and create a custom menu together! We’ll spend the night learning, laughing, and eating while you soak up all of that virtual quality time with your favorite people! 

For the Reading Eater

Here are some of the latest cookbooks that I’m most excited about this year. They’ll find a welcome home with any of your beloved cookbook hoarders, like myself!

I love everything that Ottolenghi does, especially when it comes to his cookbooks. His dishes are always so impressive in their flavor and simplicity. His latest cookbook is a collaboration with Ixta Belfrage, an author and chef in Ottolenghi’s test kitchen. This new book, Ottolenghi Flavor: A Cookbook, focuses on three key ways to elevate plant-based recipes with a spotlight on the power of vegetables in cooking.

Ina Garten, aka the Barefoot Contessa, is the picture of ease in the kitchen. She makes everything seem so light and fun, with a focus on the freshest ingredients, and her recipes are the epitome of comfort food. In her newest book, Modern Comfort Food: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, she puts a lighter (and a bit healthier) spin on her classic comfort food recipes. You really can’t go wrong with a cookbook from the Barefoot Contessa!

It’s almost impossible to not to know the award-winning Ethiopian and Swedish chef Marcus Samuelsson. You might know him best for his popular Harlem restaurant Red Rooster, which servers elevated American comfort food.  His new book, The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food, captures the essence of black food culture through recipes and so many important voices. Samuelsson’s new book, which seems more like a collaboration of necessary voices, talks about origin, culture, race, and food in such a beautiful way.

I’m a huge fan of Susan Spungen — a renowned food stylist, New York Times Contributor and the founding food editor of Martha Stewart Living.  Her newest book shares stylish and simple recipes that’ll take your entertaining skills to entirely new heights. Even in a world where entertaining is at a minimum right now, these gorgeous recipes are perfect for any intimate dinner party.

Baking seems to be everyone’s new favorite hobby in the midst of quarantine, which makes the timing of this pie-centric cookbook (by the adored Petee’s Pie Company) pretty ideal. The recipes come from Petee’s very own Petra (Petee) Paradez. You’ll find all sorts of baking techniques and learn how to make pretty much every pie imaginable. This sounds like the perfect way to spend a cozy weekend inside!

For The Stylish Cook In Your Life

When you want to look your best in the kitchen or gift someone clothes that are both stylish and comfortable, Anatomie is my absolute favorite. All of their clothes are wrinkle-free, lightweight, and so easy to move around in. I recommend getting a couple of staple pieces to have for hosting! Use my code IGPAMELA at checkout and you’ll get 20% off anything on Anatomie.com!

Edible Gifts

If you’re looking for something to give the indulgent eaters in your life, here’s a list of things that will be sure to satisfy even the most seasoned palates!

If you have a chocoholic in your life, you’ll want to indulge all of their senses with a gorgeous box of MarieBelle chocolates! Mariebel is a good friend of mine whose chocolate factory I’ve been to visit in Soho! This is also a great gift for any host with a taste for luxury.

For the truffle lover in your life, this Truffle Salt by Truffle Shuffle will put a huge smile on their face. Made with French black summer truffles and handcrafted sea salt, this is something you’ll want to have on hand for finishing off a juicy steak, a rich pasta dish, a bowl of popcorn, a fresh tomato and burrata salad, a slice of pizza, or even your scrambled eggs in the morning. Give your loved ones a level up with this truffle salt and let them feel like their home cooked meal is straight from their favorite restaurant. Truffle Shuffle also sells a Truffle and Shaver Set that made its way onto the “The O List” of Oprah’s 2020 November favorites.

You may not get to spend the holidays with your family this year, but if you’re feeling up to a grand gesture for someone special, the Ultimate Caviar, Cheese, and Charcuterie Board from Black River Caviar is an excellent gift idea. Their Oscietra caviar pairs nicely with a hand-picked selection of all-natural Vermont Salumi cured meats, triple cream Mt. Tam cheese from Cowgirl Creamery, and Zingerman’s hand-ladled Caviar Cream Cheese. Your loved one can scoop up a cracker and make the ultimate decadent bite.

Haven’s Kitchen — originally housed in an old carriage house in New York City with a “farm-to-fork” cafe and a sustainable cooking school — is one of the many small businesses that had no choice but to close during the pandemic. Thankfully, the cooking school will continue its legacy with a line of ready-made sauces, ranging from Red Pepper Romesco to Golden Turmeric Tahini to Herby Chimichurri. Purchase a sampler 6-pack of these sauces for a loved one this season and make their life in the kitchen so much easier. Packaged in easily resealable pouches, these sauces are great as a dressing for your salad, a marinade for your meat or a fun addition to any pasta dish, stir-fry, or soup!

New York’s Chinatown was hit hard by the pandemic and so many small businesses were forced to shut down as a result. In an effort to support Chinatown, which remains such an integral part of the fabric that is New York City, companies like Made In Chinatown have emerged, selling all kinds of merchandise to support these local businesses. You can purchase a Chinatown Movie Theatre Deluxe Snack Box to support institutions who exclusively celebrate cultural awareness and foreign films.

Inside this awesome box of goodies you’ll find black sesame paste for DIY black sesame ice cream from Soft Swerve, lychee rose black tea from Sun’s Organic Garden, mango or lychee sparkling water from Sanzo, a mini mooncake with white lotus seed from Fay Da, two stickers from the Asian snacks sticker pack from The Bao Bae Shop, dried squid and bubble tea mochi from Grand Century Market, two packs of assorted Japanese candy from Tokyo Mart, and a miniature Chinese opera mask from Leekan Designs.

A Few of My Favorite Tools & Kitchenware

These are the kitchen items that I just can’t live without. They’ll be a hit for anyone who’s cooking regularly. Some of these items are small and simple and others take up more counter space, but I can attest to their worthiness.

Whenever I’m hosting, I always love to have a signature cocktail for my guests. Some of my absolute favorite glasses come from JFR Glass. Jared F. Rosenacker is a glass artist living in Austin, Texas, who makes the most beautiful pieces. Being from Texas myself, I have a soft spot for my home state and I love to support boutique businesses like this one. The JFR Drinkware series is gorgeous and a pair of glasses would make a wonderful holiday gift for any cocktail lover in your family!

When you live in The Big Apple, you know what a time-saver a simple apple and pear slicer can be. Here are both the large and small slice options from Prepworks.

For some, the task of cleaning their greens may just be enough to not eat them at all! Remove the obstacles and gift them with this easy to use and care for salad spinner from the ergonomically thoughtful OXO company.

A chef is only as good as their best knife. Whatever your cooking level is, one thing that I would suggest investing in is at least one great knife. Not only does it cut down on time spent for prep, but a good sharp knife has been shown to reduce tears for all those onions you’ll be cutting!If you’re doing any kind of cutting, you need a cutting board. In fact, you probably need several. The great thing about this cutting board from Totally Bamboo is that it’s beautiful and functional! You can pop it into the dishwasher without ruining it’s appearance–so it can double as a serving board as well.

Aside from your knife and cutting board, few things will be used as much as your wooden spoons and spatulas. What I love about this Tooksa collection are the non-slip handles and beautiful colors.

This is definitely a bigger ticket item, but the usefulness of my Vitamix cannot be understated. I use it almost everyday for everything from soups to smoothies to nut milks.Citrus is one of the best ways to bring acid into our food. The easiest way to get out those juices without the seeds is with a juicer like this one from Chef’n.

For the Host Who Does the Most

Want to get invited back again and again?? If you’re often the guest in someone else’s home, then the perfect way to show your gratitude is by gifting something that will be useful to your favorite host. Most of us who love to entertain find joy in everything from a beautiful home to a well-plated meal to a fully stocked bar. Here are some items to show your appreciation while proving your usefulness.

These unassuming scissors may not seem like the ultimate chef’s tool, but do not let appearances fool you. The Joyce Chen Unlimited Scissors truly will cut through everything without taking up much space. They’re so handy, I actually have a pair in almost every drawer in my home and especially my knife block. Grab a four-pack for the most active hosts in your life, so they can put them to use in the kitchen, dining room, garden, and office.

Whether you’re host is inviting one person over for a cup of tea or putting on a large dinner, the time will come when they need to provide options of flavors and styles to steep in hot water. This tea sampler from Tea Forte provides a great presentation to go along with the variety of offerings that will be a welcome addition in any home.

Every home needs a salt and pepper mill, but if you’re a frequent event host, then you want a set that can proudly sit on your table along with the rest of your serving ware. This set from Menu will not look out of place on any modern dinner table, and is not likely something your host will pick up for themselves, but they’ll be grateful you did.

It’s easy to overlook the cocktail napkin, but when you have a lot of people in your home, they’ll serve much better than a coaster as guests can take them with their drinks. These printed napkins are made from linen so they can be washed and re-used several times while adding a festive flare.

For the Kitchen Upgrade

Once you’ve gone beyond the basics, these gifts will get your favorite home cook to the next level in their food game.

 The holidays are a great time to explore baking. And in order to get the best out of your recipes, you need the right tools. This set of rolling pins, cookie cutters and kneading mat will go far with a new-found love of pastry and dough making! It’ll help with that Chocolate Pecan Pie, for sure!

I’ve talked about the instant pot before, and I think it’s such a great piece of equipment that can make delicious stews, soups, rice, and even yogurt. Last year it was the hot ticket item for many, and this year there are so many great recipes out there for you to use it for. It’s a great time saver for any chef.

My husband bought one of these for me and he loved it even more than I did. It was so much fun to watch these little seeds grown into real herbs!  Fresh herbs can make such a huge difference in your cooking. Of course, unless you live in California or a similarly temperate place, growing your own has always been a challenge. But not with these new indoor hydroponic gardens. And no need to worry about pesticides!

Once a secret tool to chefs in the know, the Microplane has become commonplace for the home cook who knows the value of the tiny grating for your cheese shredding and citrus zesting needs.

To own a cast-iron skillet is almost a right of passage for any home cook getting serious about their cooking. It can go between the stove top and oven with ease and it’s a great tool to ensure even cooking. It’ll also give you the best sear on your meats as the perfect conductor for high temperature cooking. This model from Lodge includes a silicon grip to help you handle it safely.

Whether you’re roasting meats, getting into candy-making or trying out some deep-fat frying, you need a trusty thermometer to help you decipher the temperature. You can certainly pick up a cheap one on the fly at any supermarket, but the beauty of this ThermaPro digital thermometer is its quick and easy display. It can also withstand high temperatures, which means it’s great for just about anything you’re cooking.

I hope my gift guide makes holiday shopping a little easier for you this year! Make sure to support your local businesses.They need it now more than ever. Whatever you choose to buy this year, I hope you have fun shopping and even more fun giving! 

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