2020 Gift Guide: Chef

With holiday season here, more than ever our kitchens become the hearth of the home – where the spirit of the season manifests in what we cook and what we share with others. It’s safe to say, a gift revolving around the joys of cooking, dining, imbibing and celebrating these delights are typically a safe bet. We’ve gathered several gift picks below intended to appeal to all levels of skills and interest – from the aspiring Top Chef to the “coffee and toast, thank you” set – each a tool imagined to make life a little more flavorful each and every day.

The Toaster by Balmuda \\\ $329
This wee toaster from Japan is a marvel of toasting technology you never knew you kneaded…ahem…needed until you taste that first delectable bite that comes out of its compact confines. The toaster has been fine tuned to reproduce the delicate balance between a crispy crust and a moist crumb that fresh baked artisan bread offers, using the smallest cup to introduce just enough moisture to attain this ideal textural balance. Give this to the person who lives by the notion, “bread is life”.

Bubble Casserole Pot \\\ $76
We fully embrace the return of the 80s Memphis-style, an aesthetic founded by Italian designer Ettore Sottsass and identifiable by its colorful pastiche, postmodern geometry and an unbridled element of humor so often missing from the design landscape. The Bubble Casserole Pot captures the Memphis spirit with a toy-like design that reminds us cooking should be fun and playful, emblazoned with the hallmark Memphis hues of blue, yellow and red, with a silver base and top. But it’s totally up for the task, whether you’re cooking on gas or electric stovetops, or in the oven up to 320° Fahrenheit.

Origami Dripper \\\ $32
Here’s another gift idea for the coffee lover, but one chosen to appeal to the coffee aficionado who revels in the ritual of making coffee as much as the pleasures of drinking it. The elegant folded pleats of the ceramic dripper evokes fantasies of Issey Miyake as a barista, a coffee prep tool beautifully realized in 20 ribbed folds designed to moderate the interaction between hot water and roasted beans to a fine drip. Pair it with a matching wood holder and a favorite bag of beans and gift it to the soul who appreciates beginning the day with a slow pour.

Bendo Cool Luxe Cake Rack \\\ $35
Gifting one of these uniquely designed cake racks to your favorite home baker is a thoughtful acknowledgement of the recipient’s passion for baking, but also operates as a not-so-subtle hint that you’d welcome a slice of whatever cake benefits from its arrival. Available in black, but most gift-worthy in glamorous copper, the Aussie design elevates a mundane accessory into a marvelous favorite.

Eva Solo 3 Chopping Boards with Holder \\\ $120
These minimalist and hygienic plastic cutting boards present a convincing appearance of the sleekest Apple laptop that is yet to be. A thoughtful detail: each of the three cutting boards feature a subtle tapered edge, making it easier to swipe chopped ingredients right off. The set also includes an aluminum holder that separates the boards both for storage and drying between prep sessions.

Tiipoi Karipot \\\ $88
Not all great design needs to be sleek and finished. In fact, some of our favorite objects are those imprinted with the distinct fingerprints of the handmade, like this small cookware pot made from river clay and serpentine rock. Designed for dishes requiring slow, even heat on the stovetop or in the oven, the naturally non-stick one-pot meal design makes this what we think of as the original Instant Pot.

Fire Road Round Grain Bread Board \\\ $145
This beautifully crafted bread board can claim a sort of spiritual dual citizenship of sorts: a handcrafted object made in San Francisco, but one conceived after a culinary adventure across the South of France. Available in American walnut or maple, both designs are carved into a concentric target intended for your finest bread, with deep grooves to keep a grip upon your favorite loaf and catch any crumbs. A small leather hang tie also permits easy storage on the wall, offering a lovely incidental piece of wall art.

Personal White Steamer Set \\\ $100
With a design inspired by cookware conceived during the Han Dynasty, how could I not be smitten with the idea of using a modernized version sourced from my ancestral roots? Steamers are great for cooking vegetables and seafood sans oil or extra calories; if you like dumplings/dim sum, using this could become a dangerous habit. The set is composed of a mildly aromatic cedar centerpiece sandwiched between a ceramic top and bottom, with a perforated terracotta rack within that allows steam to gently rise and circulate to cook ingredients thoroughly. Note, this steamer is only to be used on an open flame gas stove set to medium or low heat.

Caveman Factory Lift Cutting + Serving Set \\\ $36
We love this design for its multi-purpose adaptability, one that operates as both a cutting and serving board. Chop ingredients across the set’s two-piece ring polypropylene design, then when you’re finished, add the outer addition with its small reservoir to pour dipping oils, sauces, vinegars, or other ingredients as an orbital of flavors for everyone to choose from. The inclusion of a small curved lip makes it easy to pick up when you’re finished.

Besovida Triple Set of Bowls with Lids \\\ $96
You’re probably cooking at home more than ever, which means storing leftovers is a commonplace concern post-meal. We like this trio of 100% food grade silicone containers that do a convincing job of looking like terracotta, but offering a plethora of convenient and food grade features: antimicrobial, non-stick, and oven/microwave/dishwasher/dryer safe. They’re not just great for leftovers, but also ideal for anyone who pre-plans meals throughout the week, with different sizes allowing to keep portions on the straight and narrow.

Le Creuset Iron Handle Skillet \\\ $100
Our two primary pans in our kitchen are cast iron and we cook everything in them. Cast iron when properly seasoned is naturally non-stick and sears foods beautifully in ways stainless steel can never match. But what really sold us on this skillet was the fun addition of hues spanning the spectrum, adding a dose of teal, meringue, cerise or eight other colors to a category of cookware typically limited to cast iron black. There are few brands as synonymous with the dedicated home cook as Le Creuset, and their cookware falls under the rare realm of an object that regularly earns the distinction of a heirloom quality, warranting the investment.

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Gregory Han is a Senior Editor at Design Milk. A Los Angeles native with a profound love and curiosity for design, hiking, tide pools, and road trips, a selection of his adventures and musings can be found at