Mini asparagus tongs and tuna-fish-can colanders are just the right size to fit inside a Christmas stocking, but frankly, who needs them? Any cook, though, would be delighted to pull out a peeler, a spatula, an oven mitt or a pepper mill, especially if it's one that the pros swear by. FOOD & WINE's culinary dream team--executive food editor Tina Ujlaki, test kitchen chefs Marcia Kiesel and Grace Parisi and food stylists Alison Attenborough and Rori Spinelli--put together a list of the small tools that really improve their lives in the kitchen. Our five experts didn't always make the same choices (some preferred traditional designs and materials, others liked high-tech kinds), so there may be more than a single recommendation in each category. But every one of these gadgets deserves space in your friends' Christmas stockings, not to mention your own kitchen drawer.
Joyce Chen Unlimited scissors Extra-large handles allow for a better grip, particularly if you have greasy hands or if you're left-handed. "I have three pairs," Ujlaki says. ($19.86 from www.webvan.com)
Henckels kitchen shears The blades are fantastically sharp and durable. "You will never have to replace these kitchen shears--they'll never wear out," Kiesel says. ($24.95 from www.cooking.com)
Henckels swivel peeler The razor-sharp one-sided blade "lets you use a quick, easy motion," Kiesel says. ($8.80 from Zabar's, www.zabars.com, 800-697-6301 or 212-787-2000)
Kuhn Rikon peeler These inexpensive Y-shaped peelers have well-honed, carbon-steel blades. "Kids love to use them, since the handles come in bright colors," Ujlaki says. ($2.75 from www.chefstore.com, 888-334-CHEF)