Chez Pim’s Gift Guide: for the cooks who have *everything*

Jessica Seinfeld once found herself in not a dissimilar dilemma. She
had to buy gifts for Oprah Winfrey – what does one buy for a woman who
has everything? I feel your pain, Jessica, many of us are faced with
that very problem every day, and worse so come holidays time. No, not that
we had to find stocking stuffer for Ms.Winfrey herself, but we have
friends who are nothing if not Oprah-esque in their foodiedom. And,
like it or not, $10K worth of Jimmy Choo’s – what Jessica allegedly ended up
sending to her pal Oprah – aint gonna do for them.

So, to help you find that ultimate of ultimate gifts for the cooks who
have everything, I’ve put together a list for you. Fret no more, Chez
Pim, as usual, is coming to your rescue.

Here’s the list, in not so particular order.

Hattori

Give them a few thousand dollars’ worth of gift certificates to Korin,
about ten would be a good start. I don’t care what you think $10K
would buy you in shoes, it’s just not that much in the ultimate world
of cutlery at Korin. And, yes, even the cook who has got everything
will never have enough knives. No foodie worth their fleur de sel
would ever have enough knives.

Of course, the certificates is only good to use in the store itself,
and is not valid for buying from their website. Why would that be a
problem? Buying in person is the only way to buy knives any way. One
doesn’t just read about it and then One-Click to order on Amazon. One
must be present, hold the knife in one’s hand, feel the power of the
blade, and create that connection that shoots in a straight line, from
the cerebral cortex, down the shoulder, through the arm, the hand, and
the extension of it, the knife’s blade – be one with the knife. What’s the price of a plane
ticket to Manhattan for the cook who has got everything?

Once that cook who’s got everything got his full of buying knives, he could spend the spare change on a good sharpening stone or two, or even a private session with the knife master in residence. Then again, if the sharpening of knives is far to pedestrian a task to bother such great a mind as the cook who’s got everything, might I suggest buying two sets of exactly the same knives? Each set could be use in a two-week rotation, with the other set sent in to the masters at Korin to perform the upkeep magic.

Rotaval
If that cook who has everything fancies himself or herself a molecular gastronome, get him or her a Rotaval. No, no, it doesn’t do foam. Foam is so two years ago. It captures that elusive genie, the aroma, into a bottle for the gastronome to play with. The company that makes the Rotocal claims that it can distill the essence out of just about anything. I don’t know about you but I’ve got a few things I wouldn’t mind distilling. I’m sure the cook who’s got everything will too. (You can order one at Le Santuaire.)

Gastrovac
If the molecular gastronome in your life is up for a bigger challenge, get them a Gastrovac. Frankly, I don’t really know what it does – something about cooking in vacuum at lower than atmospheric pressure or some such things. Allegedly, since water boils at lower temperature in that pressure, you could cook things much more gently in that machine, or one could even theoretically do cold infusion, imbuing a flavor of one thing into another and whatnot. I don’t know though, Harold McGee and I and a whole afternoon tinkering with that darn thing produced rien-de-tout, ok, maybe a few slices of mealy apple that tasted vaguely of orange. But, hey, if someone’s up for a challenge, this might be a mighty fun gift. Who knows what’s could happen when you set such a brilliant mind – as the one possessed by your cook who’s got everything – on such a fantastic machine. I shudder at the possibilities. Plus, at a mere $4,000, the Gastrovac is a bargain compared to the Rotoval, which would set you back quite a few more Louboutins. (You can order one at Le Santuaire.)

Cintura
If your cook appreciates a dinner at L’Ambroisie, say, during truffle season more than a sojourn to elBulli, buy him or her a Cintura di Orione Sauteuse, designed by Richard Sapper with Alain Chapel. If you didn’t know who Alain Chapel was, never-you-mind, that cook who has got everything surely does. And s/he is going to think the $350 you spent on the 2qt. saucepan – copper lined with 18/10 Stainless Steel – is a total bargain. Hey, since Alain Chapel has gone off to see his maker many moons ago, and so won’t be designing any more pans, you might want to get a dozen, just so you have them for a long, long time to come.

Fakirgrill
At about the same price range as Alain Chapel’s Sauteuse is a new invention – this time by a Spanish chef by the name of Jordi Herrera. It’s a rather odd-looking grilling contraption, sort of a cross between a flat plancha and a bed of nails yogis sleep on in India. Supposedly, one heats this contraption, called Fakircook, on open flame to thoroughly heat each sharp nail, then spear a piece of protein – no less than true Japanese Kobe or Galician Chuleton – atop the nails, which then sear and cook the protein into indescribable deliciousness hitherto unknown. If you’ve ever wondered why those Yogi sur son lit de clous in India were ever so tasty, now you know, they’re cooked on a Fakir. Your cook who’s got everything surely wants one. (You can order one at Le Santuaire.)

These do not suck

Ok, enough joking, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. If I were the cook who’s got everything, do you know what I’d want? I want a whole leg of Jamon Iberico – that fabled Spanish dry ham, made from the famous black feet – Pata Negra – pigs, fed only on acorns. Quite simply the best ham in the world. For years, this ham had been unavailable in the US, but things have now changed. Now you can order your own Jamon Iberico, a whole leg of it, from Tienda in New York. Since the import law has just been changed, the ham won’t actually be arriving until summer 2008. But the good news is, you can order them now. Tienda has a whole leg of Jamon Iberico de Ballota at just $1,400. Those of you in London can get one from Brindisa for just £850, and the ham stand is included even.

Check back tomorrow for more Chez Pim’s holiday gift guides, this time perhaps for those cooks who lack a few things.

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  • http://ascientistinthekitchen.net A scientist in the kitchen

    I wish I’m getting those gifts!

  • http://RWApplewannabe.wordpress.com RW Apple Wannabe

    Hi Pim,
    Thanks for such a helpful and entertaining gift idea list! And for what it’s worth, I read that those shoes from Jessica Seinfeld were Christian Louboutins, not Jimmy Choos.
    Cheers and happy holidays!

  • http://kitchenmusings.typepad.com veron

    I was curious about the rotaval -looked like the mini contraption that we used in Harold McGee Lecture series at the French culinary institute. Hah , where to find $10000 for a toy. I think I’ll use the gelatin method for now :) .
    Can’t wait for that iberico ham…
    Yes…Pim…can you give us a holiday gift guide that is more within double or at most low triple digit range ;) .

  • http://caseyellis.blogspot.com casey

    I’d only consider giving that ham to a friend who lives nearby. One whose kitchen I could drop in on frequently — like every day– and who would *insist* I have a little wine, olives and ham.

  • Lizzie

    £850 but only $1400? You guys over the pond are onto a bargain!

  • http://afaustianbargain.blogspot.com faustianbargain

    hey pim..remember the batch of pruneaux a l’armagnac you made?…prunes in cognac is my standby gift for all seasons! and even i cant polish off all those fruit infused vodka. of course, bottling them three months before the holiday season is ideal.
    on a completely different note…i just made a dessert from some leftover pruneaux for thanksgiving. i also had a bottle of bonne maman confiture de marrons..basically make a neat rectangle tub with puff(i had frozen storebought..what can i say..i am on a cleaning mission…also, i am not so arrogant to imagine that i can come up with perfect homemade puff pastry everytime!)..fill with confiture de marrons and top with pruneaux..bake until its beautiful and golden.
    to be honest, pim, i think bonne maman is too sweet. if i had the time, i’d have made it myself from scratch..cut down sugar..maybe a touch of honey and definitely throw in some orange or lemon zest to flavour the chestnut puree. if you have still got any leftover pruneau from your last batch, i must insist..do give this a try!

  • http://www.frompariswithlove.net From Paris with Love

    What about a Blendtec blender? After hearing about all of the oddities on “will it blend” that well, blend, I think this would be a fitting gift for the chef or pyromanic who already has it all.

  • http://www.grobelaar.com Ian James

    Do Americans spend unholy amounts of money on each other’s gifts? I’m sure if I put all my holiday season giftage together it wouldn’t total even one of these items.
    I think us Brits like to buy some cheap rubbish for friends and secretly buy those expensive cookery items/Christian Laboutin shoes for ourselves (I know my girlfriend wants the latter).

  • http://www.ceresandbacchus.com mary

    My husband has been asking for a whole ham for Christmas for years. Everyone thinks he’s joking.

  • http://hedonia.seantimberlake.com Sean

    Hells yeah — think we can pull together a few people to form a cooperative and split the jamon? We’ve got a vacu-sealer. :)
    BTW we did exactly this with a full country ham, the same kind that Kevin (Bacon Press) ordered. We had it cut down into steaks at Drewes and vacusealed it for preservation. We’d want to get a hold of someone with a better slicer, though, for the jamon.

  • http://www.cakespy.com Cakespy

    Oh, can’t wait to see the roundup!
    That poor Jessica, having to buy Oprah a present. Poor, poor Oprah, having to accept many dollars worth of fancy shoes.

  • http://www.forumgastronomic.com marc

    Hello Pim,
    We’re following usually your blog and we’ve just seen your proposal of gifts for cooks. We have the prefect gift for cooks that have everything. At this moment we are preparing the 1st edition of Forum Gastronómico Santiago’08 and we would like to invite everybody to come to Santiago de Compostela and enjoy the event with the best chefs: F.Adrià, R.Redzepi, S.Yamamoto, P.Jeffroy and much more things for professionals and gourmets.
    Congratulations for this great blog.
    More info in http://www.forumgastronomic.com

  • tiptup

    please post your follow-up post soon! please please please. thanks a million!

  • http://livingsmallblog.com Charlotte

    So if you’re giving gift certificates for knives how to you fend off the bad luck? Giving knives will “cut” the ties of your love or friendship — so the recipient needs to “pay” you a penny — that way it’s not a gift, it’s a purchase … just saying … not that I come from a long line of witchy Irish people or anything …

  • http://www.winosandfoodies.typepad.com/ barbara

    I want a leg of Jamon Iberico.

  • Sarah

    Hi Pim, speaking of vacuum sealing, Jessica, should have given Oprah a “Vacu-Seal,” she loves it. There is a new handheld, compact sealer on the market that is small enough to fit into your kitchen drawer which would be perfect for Oprah, she could keep it in her purse! Plus it has reusable bags – no need to ask for a doggybag anymore just bring your own. It’s by PackMate and any big retailer should have it.

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  • Diybritain

    I can honestly say as the needs of the UK are turning more to the continetal palet jamon and other hams, anti-pasti and like are coming down in price all the time

    Steve

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