Chefs are often the unsung heroes of the holiday season. While everyone is getting excited for some well-deserved vacation time, chefs are gearing up for their busiest time of year. Let’s step inside the minds of some fearless culinary leaders across the country who remain passionately dedicated to their craft even in the toughest of times. Some chefs have a one-track mind when it comes to presents and look forward to a big tin of caviar, while others would lean towards a fresh pair of skis. Here’s your chef-approved gift guide for those people in your life who can’t stay out of the kitchen.
Jonathan Schnipper, executive chef/owner of Schnippers
“Despite my love for American comfort food, I do have a special place in my heart for one luxury item that one may consider to be the polar opposite of what I do. Caviar. Sadly, for cost reasons my consumption is quite limited. But a few ounces of Petrossian’s Kaluga Huso Hybrid would most certainly make me smile ear to ear this holiday season. Petrossian also sells these great little vodka flutes that I have never seen anywhere else. A lovely set of those would be a wonderful addition.”
Ray Lampe, Dr. BBQ
Ray Lampe, AKA Dr. BBQ, is one of the most prominent pitmasters in the world and a recurring judge for the Food Network’s Chopped, the World Food Championships in Las Vegas, and the Travel Channel’s American Grilled.
“I’d recommend the Big Green Egg MiniMax for Chefs and home cooks alike that are on your Christmas list. It’s big enough for home use and small enough to take to the beach or a tailgate and it really does cook THAT well.”
Patrick Connolly, chef/owner of Rider in Williamsburg
Chef Patrick Connolly (formerly of Bobo and Boston’s Radius) brings New-American cuisine to Williamsburg in the National Sawdust performance space.
“The Apple Watch, though not the most attractive timepiece, is definitely a chef-approved holiday gift. When you’re all rubber gloved and butcher aproned and your pant pocket keeps vibrating to the point where you can’t tell if you have a muscle spasm in your leg or 100 people are texting you that your apartment is on fire, the Apple Watch allows you to quickly glance at your wrist and carry on relieved that it’s merely a notification that you’re getting noticed on LinkedIn. It also is helpful for subtle notifications in the restaurant during service like texting the maître d’ ‘Your fly’s down!’ Subtle wrist glance, subtle zip. ”
Jimmy Bradley, chef/owner of The Red Cat in Chelsea
The Red Cat is an iconic Chelsea restaurant that serves Mediterranean-American cuisine. Jimmy is a New York restaurateur with a storied past who also happens to be a cookbook author, a previous competitor on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters, and has a chef-driven podcast on Heritage Radio Network called “The Front Burner.”
“I never ask for anything around the holidays, but a nice big tin of Golden Osetra Caviar is a gift I always welcome. I slather it on a baguette and drink some icy vodka or champagne along with it, in front of a fire. I love to give this around the holidays as a hostess gift. I like to give mason jars filled with foie gras that I make, and Pio Cesare Barolo — a great wine my cousin makes, which everyone loves for the holidays.”
Albert Di Meglio, chef/partner of Barano in South Williamsburg
Barano offers seasonal Southern Italian cuisine based around a wood-fired oven with housemade pizzas, pastas, and hand-pulled mozzarella.
“We always like to bring friends my wife’s specialty — her homemade snowball cookies, which are perfect to ring in the holiday season.”
Joe Campanale, proprietor of Annona Wines
Alta Linea is a seasonal outdoor restaurant at the High Line Hotel serving cocktails and Italian small plates.
“I always think that wine or booze is a great gift! Apple-based spirits seem very Autumnal to me. Calvados is great, but if you want to give an American-made product, I’d recommend the Neversink Unaged NY Apple Brandy.”
Laurence Edelman, chef at Left Bank in the West Village
This relaxed New-American spot in the West Village has European influences, an extensive wine list, and features ingredients from local farmer’s markets .
“Martin de Candre shaving soap, the ‘brain bowl.” It’s a French shaving soap that you whip into a lather with a shaving brush. This Brain Bowl I think only comes in lavender which is fine. Honestly, if nobody gets it for me I’ll get it for myself in January. I think for a lot of people it would seem ridiculously overpriced for a shave. That’s why it’s a great gift. I can always use another Gangy 300. The best can opener that ever was.”
Elizabeth Blau, restaurateur with Andiron Steak & Sea and Honey Salt in Las Vegas
“I love to give food gifts! This year I found a holiday gift basket from Mark Strausman’s Fred’s at Barneys NYC. The basket is filled with chocolates and candies and has that New York touch. For my wine-loving friends, I am also loving the Coravin, which lets you pour a glass of wine from a bottle without opening the whole thing. It’s great for a night when you want a special glass but are not going to finish the bottle.”
Harold Moore, chef/owner of Harold’s Meat + Three in Tribeca
Located in the Arlo Hotel, Moore’s restaurant showcases a contemporary take on the conventional meat and three dining style (meat dishes served along with three sides) based on classic Southern-American cuisine.
“I like to bring people chocolate. It’s always appreciated and I find it’s not something that people buy for themselves. If I have time, I like to make little chocolate ganache truffles rolled in cocoa and put them in a fancy little box so they’re packaged like jewelry. But if I don’t have the time, I swing by Jacques Torres or Vosges and find something beautiful to a gift a friend.”
Antoine Westermann, chef/owner of Le Coq Rico in Flatiron
Chef Antoine Westerman is a celebrated French chef and the owner of Le Coq Rio (along with four restaurants in Paris), an upscale French bistro that specializes in enchanting poultry dishes.
“When I’m not in the kitchen, I love skiing – so I’d definitely appreciate a new pair of skis, preferably Rossignol.”
Charlie Trotter, late world-renowned Chicago chef
Charlie Trotter was a highly acclaimed American chef and restaurateur who changed the culinary world through his Michelin-starred restaurant. The late chef was a philanthropist, won multiple James Beard awards, and had a PBS cooking show called The Kitchen Sessions with Charlie Trotter.
Chef Trotter used Long Meadow Ranch’s olive oil (ultra-premium COOC and CCOF certified) as a favorite finishing oil. This olive oil is a luxury gift for any food enthusiast or home cook — the olives are grown on the Prato Lungo (Italian for Long Meadow) grove, the oldest olive grove in Napa Valley.
Chris Rendell, chef of Flinders Lane in Alphabet City
Flinders Lane is a modern Australian restaurant serving approachable small plates, wine, and cocktails in an industrial-inspired atmosphere.
“With New York being such a great city to walk around in, I tend to burn through boots very quickly. So every couple of years I am due for a new pair. You really cannot go past the Classic R.M. Williams boot. Although these shoes do last a lifetime, getting a new pair is always a special treat!”