The Cook Who Has Everything

Think they have everything? Think again—these gifts will keep them surprised.

I've used many, many oyster knives in my life, and the R. Murphy Duxbury knife is my hands-down favorite. It has a fat, grippy handle that's easy to wield, and a short blade that tapers to a point and always manages to find the sweet spot on an oyster's hinge. Pop! The slightly sharpened blade edges make slicing through the muscle and removing the top shell as smooth as butter.

There are a lot of custom-designed pizza ovens out there in various price ranges. I haven't tested all of them, but my favorite so far is the Uuni 2S. It consists of a small stainless steel box with a pizza stone set inside it. You load up a hopper on the rear of the unit with wood pellets, light it up with a torch or lighter fluid, and let it preheat. About 15 minutes later, you're ready to cook. This little powerhouse hits temperatures in excess of 900°F and bakes up Neapolitan-sized pizzas in just 60 to 90 seconds.

My good friend and former Food & Wine coworker, Kristin Donnelly, runs this awesome lip balm company called Stewart & Claire with her husband, Phil. Every lip balm she makes uses great ingredients that you wouldn't hesitate to smear all over your mouth, but even cooler are the scents she comes up with, many of them inspired by foods and cocktails. Recently she teamed up with the talented folks at Death & Co, a great NYC cocktail bar, to develop three limited-edition scents. I've been walking around with "Smoky" in my back pocket for the past couple of months: It's inspired by the smoky scent of Scotch and mezcal cocktails, using smoked olive oil, along with citrus and spice notes, to achieve that effect. It's like a mezcal Negroni or Rob Roy for your lips, but subtle enough to sit under your nose all day.

Few things get me as excited as a good raw bar, but most of the time, I eat far less than I want because, after the first couple dozen oysters or so, it just gets to be too expensive. That's even truer when the oysters are top-notch, like the briny little suckers from Island Creek up in Massachusetts. But here's the good news: You can order Island Creek's oysters online by the 50- or 100-count for much less than they cost at most restaurants, and have them in your hands the next day for an at-home shucking extravaganza. (Obviously, it helps to learn how to shuck first.)

Sorghum syrup is made from the pressed juice of sorghum grass, which grows prominently throughout the American South. This amber-colored syrup has a unique, nutty flavor that's both sweet and savory. And since the 1960s, the Guenther family of Muddy Pond, Tennessee, has been making some of the best.

It's hard to find a better-curated food catalog than Zingerman's. They are righteous folks, they know seriously delicious food when they come across it, and they sell it at a fair price. Nothing in the catalog is cheap, but then again, good food rarely is. So whether you order cheese or olive oil or bread from Zingerman's, you can be confident you're going to be very happy when it arrives at your house.

Cooks who do a lot of preserving, or keep several types of flour, rice, or other dangerously similar-looking ingredients around the kitchen in plastic or glass jars, need a practical way to identify the contents of all those vessels. The Brother P-Touch label maker—which prints and slices off labels quickly, in your choice of 14 fonts, and even on multiple lines—does the job admirably. But that's not the only reason, or even the most important reason, this device should be on your gift list. The real reason is that, for a certain type of organization freak whom you probably know (or are), labeling everything, from bottles of homemade syrups and dressings to recipe files to kitchen cabinets, is a particularly habit-forming kind of fun. Of course, a label maker is handy for all sorts of non-kitchen-related tasks, too, so there's no need to be prescriptive—just let the fastidious recipient's imagination run wild.

If you do get a towel bar for your kitchen, it helps to have some S-hooks to hang from it. From them, you can suspend bottle openers, scissors, and any utensil or tool that has a hanging loop on it.

I renovated my kitchen at home this year, and of all the features I installed, the towel bar is one of my favorites. Set it on the wall over a stove and you can hang small pots and pans, ladles, and other frequently used tools on it for rapid access; install it elsewhere and you can hang not only kitchen towels from it, but also bottle openers, scissors, honing steels, and anything else you use often and would rather not rummage around in drawers for.

I got one of these traditional Japanese clay pots for my birthday this year, and it's quickly become an obsession. Not only can you cook perfect plain rice in it every time, it doubles as a vessel for flavorful one-pot stews and hot pots, and an infinite variety of noodle and rice dishes. Anyone interested in Japanese home cooking should have one.

These days, I keep this solid slab of steel permanently atop one of the burners of my stove. One side has a pebbled surface—ideal for getting extra-crisp, better-than-a-baking-stone crust on homemade pizzas. And, unlike a baking stone, this thing is going to last forever. The griddle arrives as shiny steel, but with just a few uses, it seasons up into a dark, slick nonstick surface that can be used for everything from pancakes to eggs to hamburgers to grilled cheese.

A bean is a bean is a bean. Or is it? Once you go down the rabbit hole of eating quality dried beans (after they're cooked, of course—raw dried beans aren't so great), you'll fall in love with their variety of flavors, textures, and colors. Some are starchy, some are nutty, some are earthy, and some are slightly sweet. Rancho Gordo is one company that sells some really cool ones to try. You won't look at dried beans the same way again.

Know someone who's interested in sous vide cooking? They're gonna want this. And it's handy for way more than just sous vide cooking. A vacuum sealer makes it really easy to save meats or other foods in the freezer, and it keeps air (read: freezer burn) off it all. The Oliso sealer uses a unique resealable-bag system, which means far less wasted plastic than a conventional cut-and-seal vacuum sealer.

The Cadillac of kitchen thermometers is indispensable when you're roasting meat, cooking steaks, making candy, deep-frying, or carrying out any other task where precise temperature control is needed. It's got a big display and a blazing-fast measuring time of under two seconds—you won't find a better, easier-to-use thermometer out there.

For the baker who has it all, embossed rolling pins can make even the most traditional shortbread seem exciting again. I love this large, open paisley pattern so much, I used it for the cookies on the cover of my book! Its design works well with many styles of dough, so it's a great starting point before you experiment with pins that have a more intricate pattern.

Calling all lovers of bittersweet drinks! In flavor, Barolo Chinato is somewhere between vermouth and amaro, but the best chinati are more delicious than either of those. Even the fanciest vermouths are usually made with a basic, cheap white wine, but the base for Barolo Chinato is certified DOCG Barolo wine—that is, 100% Nebbiolo from the Barolo region in Piedmont, which is then mixed with an infusion of herbs, spices, and bittering agents. We love this one from Cappellano.

Sous vide cooking—cooking foods in vacuum-sealed pouches in precisely controlled water baths—is no longer the exclusive preserve of fancy restaurant kitchens. The Anova Precision Cooker is the best home water bath controller on the market, with an easy-to-use interface, Bluetooth support, rock-solid construction, a sleek look, and an affordable price tag to boot.

I've cracked my way through quite a few baking stones. With the Baking Steel—a solid sheet of steel designed to replace a baking stone—that's a thing of the past. Not only will it last forever, but, with superior thermal properties, it produces the best pizza crusts I've ever seen in a home oven.

Coffee geeks will have a lot of fun with this coffee scale. It pairs with a smartphone through Bluetooth, and an accompanying app helps walk you through the brewing processes, like pourover and French press, calculating bean-to-water ratios and brew times. It can handle customization, so with each successive batch, you can really dial in on the variables to make the cup that tastes best to you. It can also be used as a basic kitchen scale with a maximum weight of two kilograms (about four and a half pounds), so it's versatile beyond its primary purpose.

Not all containers are built the same. OXO's Pop Containers stack neatly in the cabinet, make it easy to see exactly what's inside, and have a neat push-button top that forms a perfectly airtight seal, keeping your dry pantry goods fresher for longer.

These thin chocolate disks have a creamy, melt-in-your-mouth texture and a complex, pleasantly fruity bitterness. But it's the scattered cacao nibs on top that take them from memorable to exceptional. The crunchy bits of bean are toasty and flavorful in their own right, but Recchiuti goes the extra mile, tossing them in caramel and fleur de sel for a brightly salty-sweet finish that electrifies each bite.

It may sound nuts to mail-order cornmeal and grits, given that they're found on any supermarket shelf. But I'd argue that you haven't experienced the best cornbread, grits, or other classic Southern dishes until you've had them made with the kind of high-quality stuff Anson Mills is selling. It'll change how you understand those foods and what they can be.

Native to Cincinnati, Ohio, goetta (pronounced "get-a") is a sublime beef and pork sausage made with steel-cut oats (as opposed to the cornmeal used in its close cousin, scrapple). Glier's is one of the biggest and best producers of the German-style pork product. Just slice it, fry it, and serve it with eggs and toast.

This Serious Eats-curated gift bag features a one-stop shop for your (or your giftee's) next holiday party. The theme here is just hot enough to handle—think a fresh and punchy aji pepper salsa, some crunchy white corn tortilla, and a dill and horseradish-packed Bloody Mary Mix. Plus, of course, some vodka to top it off, along with a package of sweet, crunchy toffee to cut the heat. Bonus: your giftee will also get a handy tote bag from our friends at Mouth to commemorate their feast.

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