On average, chefs and head cooks make just under $46,000 per year. While that’s a respectable salary, it doesn’t necessarily explain why so many people are drawn to a career in the culinary arts. Maybe it’s the prevalence of food shows on TV or the captivating charm and witty asides of certain celebrity chefs. Maybe it’s both.
Whatever the reason, people are fascinated by the idea of working the line at a busy restaurant or, better yet, coming up with a sweet catchphrase like “BAM!” Here are 10 gift ideas for aspiring chefs that may help your favorite gastronome realize their dream of cheffy stardom.
J.A. Henckels International Classic 8-Inch Chef Knife
Chefs love their tools, but there’s a special place in a culinarian’s heart for their chef knife. It’s the very heart of any professional knife collection – use to mince garlic, chop vegetables, cut through the joints on a chicken, slice a perfectly cooked chateaubriand, scrape the seeds out of vanilla beans, turn a handful of mint leaves into a fluffy chiffonade, or scale a fish. The possibilities are practically endless, and this knife’s size and craftsmanship only add to the versatility and appeal.
Williams Sonoma Thermocouple Thermometer
In food service, safety and temp are closely linked; knowing whether pre-prepped sauces or buffet items are being properly held and identifying dishes stuck in the danger zone can mean the difference between a tasty dinner and a very unpleasant gastrointestinal experience. With this tucked into their chef whites, cooks can verify food safety and meat doneness in just four seconds, and the FDA-recommended probe tip helps preserve food quality and appearance.
Frieling VC200 Vacuum Food Sealer
Whether you’re practicing your butchery skills and breaking down primal cuts into smaller portions or looking to save bits of that giant wedge of Roquefort for another dinner party, vacuum savers keep food fresher longer. You can also use the to quickly infuse fruit, vegetables, and meat with marinade or cook your proteins right in the bag to emulate the fancy sous vide method beloved by modernist chefs.
A meal in a box for an aspiring chef? Hear us out. The best way to learn new recipes is by doing, and Blue Apron gives foodies of all skill levels a way to try new flavors and techniques without investing in large quantities of potentially expensive ingredients. Enjoy discovering the secrets behind adobo-style chicken and shrimp in smoky harissa sauce and add those ideas to your growing repertoire.
Le Creuset Round Wide Dutch Oven, 6.75 qt.
Le Creuset is the gold standard of Dutch ovens, the multipurpose cooking vessels that can be used for everything from stovetop searing to low-and-slow braising to unforgettable presentations. Superior heat distribution and retention ensures even cooking, so you can get that coveted Maillard reaction – caramelization, for the laypeople reading – and build layers of flavor.
The best pastry cooks weight ingredients rather than using measuring cups. Savory chefs quickly learn to do the same. For the sake of precision – and to easily replicate a dish time after time, service after service – a well-calibrated tool like the Switch Scale is an absolute necessity.
KitchenAid Classic Plus 4.5-Quart Stand Mixer
There’s a reason KitchenAid mixers are the undisputed king of bridal registries. All the user-friendly features (tilt-head design, roomy capacity, wide range of speeds, etc.) that make this handy appliance a powerhouse in the home kitchen make it equal helpful for aspiring chefs looking to up their game. It’s obviously great for baking, but this mixer can also make sausage, extrude pasta, spiralize vegetables, juice, dice, slice, shred, and puree thanks to a bevy of optional KitchenAid attachments (all sold separately, all fantastic gifts on their own).
Winco 18x26” Aluminum Sheet Pan
Walk into a professional kitchen and you’re bound to be greeted by a massive stack of full, half, and quarter-sized sheet pans. Chefs use these baking pans – what home cooks refer to as “cookie sheets” – to brown bones, roast vegetables, and broil all kinds of goodies. You can cool on them, cover them in wax paper for chocolate work, make pizza, bake bread, soak skewers, organize mise en place, and so much more. Gift them in bundles and prepare for effusive thank yous.
Joy Of Cooking
The Joy of Cooking is known for its ties to the great Julia Child as well as its contents, a wealth of recipes that act as a detailed guide for anyone hoping to become a chef, or at least entertain like one. The book may be some 85 years old, but the recipes are timeless. Master basics like Caesar salad and chocolate mousse, make better-than-your-mama’s Thanksgiving stuffing, or perfect the art of comfort food with no-fail recipes for corned beef and cabbage and spaghetti bolognese.
Mueller Ultra-Stick Multi-Purpose Hand Blender
Rather than transferring cooked ingredients and broth from a stock pot to a blender and back again, you can help your dish in place and still get the job done with this immersion blender. Puree in a flash, create smoothies in your favorite serving jar, whip up some cream for a quick dessert topping, or turn a bucket of fresh tomatoes into a vibrant salsa. Clean up is equally quick, and you can move from task to task without emptying out a giant blender in between jobs.