The perfect gift for the cook is a blend of the right ingredients. It has to be something they'll enjoy, yet are unlikely to have bought themselves. The two main criteria we find useful when helping customers choose gifts is finding items that are either a bit quirky/niche/low-key so there's a good chance the cook has never heard of it, or those things that are a bit indulgent. The sort of thing you look at, love, but just can't quite justify. It's enormous fun trying to find the perfect gift for people's friends and loved ones, so do try and find time to pop into one of our stores and explore the possibilities, but in case you can't make it in yet, here are some of my favourites, from budget to 'someone's been very good this year'.
Poach Perfect Egg Poachers: £4.99
The Poach Perfect Egg Poachers make great gifts – they’re fun and the chances the lucky recipient will actually use them are very high. Who doesn’t love a poached egg? (Preferably, served with sourdough and a salsa made with diced tomatoes and avocado, a little grated chilli and a drizzle of honey) Stick the Poach Perfect Egg Poachers in a shallow pan of water and pop on the lid for perfect poached eggs every time. Tip: rub a little olive oil on the inside first so they slide out easily.
The Avoshark: £10.99
The avocado's popularity has ripened in recent years, and when we’re not rubbing it on our faces, we’re eating it. The Avoshark is quirky, shark-shaped (for a kitchen utensil, anyway) and yes – it is actually practical. Stones, slices and scoops; one for the cook who loves a gadget.
Garlic Zoom 2: £10.99
Italian recipes call for chopped, not crushed garlic, and the Garlic Zoom 2 is basically a mini food processor for chopping garlic cloves. Peel (we have gadgets for peeling too…), pop in, roll along the worktop in a ‘child with a toy car’ fashion and there you have it – finely chopped garlic. A great little stocking filler.
Pizza Stone Set: Half Price at £11.99
Lazy, foodie, anyone who likes pizza – the Pizza Stone Set is a gift with almost universal appeal. It will improve shop-bought pizza but the baking stone also appeals to bakers. Put the stone in the oven, crank the heat up to full for 20 minutes and slide your pizza on for a proper crispy base. Works amazingly well on a barbecue too. Comes with a trivet to save damaging your table/worktop when serving (serve from the stone to keep your pizza hot longer) and pizza cutter.
Jamie Oliver Pestle & Mortar: almost Half Price at £14.99
There are some pukka items of cookware with celebrity chef endorsements, and there are some rubbish ones. This is a good one. There isn’t anything particularly Jamie about it, apart from his cherubic face on the box, but it is a lovely pestle & mortar. Particularly at the price we do it for. It avoids any chances of crushing disappointment as a gift as pestle & mortar ownership is reasonably low, everyone can do interesting things in one (dressings, spice rubs, the list is endless) and the JO Pestle & Mortar is unmistakably a thing of quality and beauty.
Garlic Twist: £14.99
We have almost managed to prepare an entire meal with the Garlic Twist. Add garlic and chilli, twist to mash-up, add to some olive oil on a low heat. Add a few olives, some basil and a dash of olive oil, twist to mash into a tapenade, toss some spaghetti through both mixtures, add some grated parmesan, season – delicious. The Garlic Twist is a very solid, functional but fun little gift.
Gefu Spiraliser 2: £25.99
Like a lot of things we sell, there are many cheap imported versions of comparatively horrible quality available – the Gefu Spiraliser is the best on the market. German company Gefu take quality very seriously, and the Spiraliser 2.0 is beautifully made with Japanese steel blades. The latest version comes with an extendable end-stop thing (to give it its full technical name) so you can spiralise down to the very end of the carrot/courgette. If the intended recipient enjoys eating healthily and likes experimenting in the kitchen, they’ll have fun with this. It enjoys a resurgence in our household whenever we go in a pre-holiday, low carb, de-larding regime.
Robert Welch 2 Limited Edition 2 Piece Knife Set: £60
Robert Welch knives have won a raft of awards from the chef and design industry for incorporating top-end traditional and cutting edge design features into a very reasonably priced range. Crucially, the knives are made from fully-forged German steel (the steel is heated then compressed into shape, making it stronger) and are perfectly balanced, as the blade extends through the full length of the handle. (We call this ‘full tang’) You get a big chef’s knife for the vast majority of kitchen duties and a smaller knife for more intricate tasks. Packaged together in a limited edition boxed set, this makes a great ‘my first quality knives’ present, and you save 20% or so on the usual price.
Global Limited Edition 3 Piece Knife Set: Less than Half Price at £149.99
There is little agreement on who makes the best knives in the world, and there never will be, such is the quantity made, and there will always be someone who claims their mate in Japan has just made the best. However, more people rate Global as number one than any other in the world, so if we are to use consensus as our benchmark, we have a winner. With their distinctive looks, if the person you’re buying for watches a lot of cooking programs a la Masterchef etc, they’ll probably have noticed Global and may well have it on their wish list. They are beautiful, incredibly sharp, and with just a little care will last a lifetime. We have a finite amount of Limited Edition 3 piece sets reduced quite dramatically from their usual retail price of £410. You get the classic sized chef’s knife, featuring fluting along the blade to create air pockets so food drops off and two handy, smaller sizes.
Scanpan CTX Saute Pan: from around £150 (depending on size)
Nothing gets sighs of desire in store quite like Scanpan’s CTX range. Scanpan (Scandinavian Pans) make the best non-stick pans in the world, and these are their top-end models. When you open the box, the pan is clothed in a gorgeous black velvet Scanpan bag – wonderfully over the top. The Scanpans have a ceramic titanium non-stick coating that will never peel off and is tough enough to withstand metal utensils (we wouldn’t use them on a daily basis though), are made of seven layers of different materials for the ultimate in even cooking, will work on any hob and – with their brushed steel exterior – look stunning. The Saute Pan hits the perfect present brief as it’s incredibly versatile (it will even go in the oven) and is unlikely to already be in the recipient’s arsenal.
We have lots of new gift ideas at this time of year, so matching the perfect gift to a lucky recipient is great fun. Do make the effort to pop into one of our stores. Our staff of cooks and chefs spend all day, 363 days of the year immersed in this subject, and they're amazing at helping you finding something special to fit the habits and tastes of the lucky recipent.