Home Cook Gifts

The Best Holiday Gifts for Home Cooks, According to Chef Samantha Fore

We asked the expert, and she delivered.
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For Samantha Fore, the chef behind the roving pop-up restaurant Tuk Tuk Sri Lankan Bites, buying the right gift for someone who loves spending time in the kitchen is a tricky balance between practical and pretty. "I'd want it to be something that I'd use myself," she says. While it's easy to be tempted by high-tech gadgets that promise to make dinnertime easier, Fore opts for high-quality basics that look beautiful on the counter or stove, like a classic tagine or a wood cutting board that's built to endure juices and hasty knife cuts.

1. Emile Henry 2.6-Quart Tagine

emile henry tagine
Credit: Food52

"Many traditional Sri Lankan dishes are cooked over fire in clay pots. Since that isn't practical in my kitchen, I use this tagine—my best chicken curry was made using this. And it goes from stove to table seamlessly, giving my dishes an elegant touch." ($100, food52.com)

2. Boos Cutting Board 

Amazon John Boos Block RA03 Maple Wood Reversible Cutting Board
Credit: Amazon

"These boards aren't just beautiful counter-top centerpieces; they're also for everyday use. The surface is enhanced with a brush of oil, making it a lasting piece for the home kitchen." (From $115, williams-sonoma.com or amazon.com)

3. Joseph Joseph BladeBrush

Credit: amazon.com

"I've had most of my knives for over a decade, and I try to keep them in top condition. This stocking stuffer is the perfect tool for giving a knife a good scrub without risking my hands. I just pop it into the dishwasher after." ($9, amazon.com)

4. Frieling Oval Cast-Iron Mortar and Pestle 

morter pestle
Credit: Wayfair

"When I'm making spice blends, I reach for this cast-iron mortar and pestle. The heavier pestle makes grinding whole spices easy, and I often use it to crack and clean crab. This mortar has a nifty spout to neatly and easily transfer marinades, sauces, and rubs. It's easy to wipe clean but can be washed and seasoned if needed." ($40, wayfair.com)

5. Unicorn PepperStick 

pepper grinder
Credit: Amazon

"I love freshly ground black pepper, and this easy-to-fill pepper mill slips into my apron pocket for quick use. Unlike my older pepper mills, the output on this mill is excellent; it doesn't take much effort to fully season a dish. This stick is more of a stove-side companion, but if you're hunting for the tabletop, Unicorn also makes a Magnum mill with epic pepper output." ($30, amazon.com)