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What the chefs want

Need some last-minute gift ideas for the foodie in your life? Atlanta chefs got you covered

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Photo credit: Thinkstock/Lacheev
SANTA'S WORKSHOP: Impress the foodies in your life with one of these chef-approved holiday gifts.

Last minute shopper? Me too. But fear not. Whether you've got an aspiring home chef on your holiday gift list or just want to impress the foodies at your annual White Elephant, we've rounded up a list of some of the top kitchen gadgets, cookbooks, and specialty ingredients Atlanta chefs want now. Apparently centrifuges are hot at the moment.

Chad Clevenger, executive chef at Alma Cocina: “So what I’d like the Jolly Old Fat Man to bring me would be: more tattoos just because, a Houston Edge Works custom knife to add to my collection, a new driver to add to my golf bag (technology wins), an awesome week in Denver with my wife and family, and last but not least, every chef’s wish, cooks and dishwashers who don’t call out!”

Deborah VanTrece, owner/executive chef at Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours: "At the top of my gadget wish list is a knuckle pounder meat tenderizer. It's such a barbaric tool! It feeds into my inner warrior princess and my gangsta, all at the same time." 

Jason Simpson, executive chef at Muchacho and Golden Eagle: “An electric tortilla press for Muchacho, and an Anova sous vide precision cooker and a well-seasoned cast iron skillet for Golden Eagle.”

Edwin Molina, executive chef at Double Zero“I am always welcoming new cookbooks to add to my collection. I think most chefs would say that! The number one thing on my list this year will have to be pasta tools. I need to grow my tool set for the pasta room at Double Zero. My wife just got me a mattarello (a four-foot-long rolling pin) for our anniversary, so now I've got my eye on a couple of things, like a corzetti stamp, or even a cavarola board!”

Zach Meloy, chef at Better Half“I would really like to get my hands on a Spinzall, a small culinary centrifuge used to clarify juices, make flavored oils, butter, quick cold-brew coffee, meld fruits with spirits, and separate fats. Effectively, it's the worlds fastest salad spinner and we want one!”

Woolery “Woody” Back, head chef at Table & Main: "All this chef wants this year is for his farmers to have a perfect growing season. I want A.J. Stonehaven, Levity Farms, Martin's Gardens, Buckeye Creek, and Lionheart Schools to get the perfect amount of sunshine and rain to make their harvest plentiful and abundant. This makes our jobs at Table & Main so much fun. So Santa, please bring a good harvest next year.”  

Parnass Savang, chef/owner at Talat Market: “I'd love to get a coconut milk hydraulic press machine so I can enjoy fresh coconut milk and cream everyday without working so hard.”

Mike Manley, executive chef at Lure: “I have a few cookbooks that have been on my wish list for quite some time now. First editions of: The Complete Guide to the Art of Modern Cookery by A. Escoffier, Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer, Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child (signed copy), and La Cuisiniere Bourgeoise by Menon.”

Savannah Sasser, executive chef at Hampton + Hudson: “Spinzall!”

John Fogleman, managing beverage director at Bar Crema: "I've been getting more into tea over the past couple years, so I'd love to get my hands on a vintage pu-erh tea cake, a good matcha bowl and a whisk (with some nice matcha, of course). As far as kitchen gadgets, I think copper ice sphere makers are pretty cool. I'm a nerd about surface area and good ice — everyone feels better with quality ice in a drink."

Matty Hutchins, senior kitchen scholar at Barleygarden: "A Griswold #8 cast-iron frying pan. The Griswold is a perfect all-purpose kitchen pan with a classic old-timey feel. It is equally at home frying eggs as it is searing upside-down peach polenta cakes. My kitchen skills turn up to 11 when this pan is on my stove."

John Castellucci, executive chef at Bar Mercado: “Etxebarri, the first cookbook from famous Spanish chef Victor Arguinzoniz. Although I never had the chance to eat at Etxebarri (number six in the world according to the San Pellegrino list) during my time in Spain, I have always been so intrigued by his use of fire and his philosophy on cooking. The book is only printed in Spanish for the moment so I will have to brush up on my vocabulary before reading it. Also, Takeda Knives. I have two knives from Takeda, a Japanese knife brand. They are my favorite knives I have ever used.  They are all made by third-generation master blacksmith Shosui Takeda. They hold their edge well and not as crazy expensive as some other Japanese brands.”

Mel Toledo, executive chef/owner at Foundation Social Eatery: “All I want for Christmas is a smoking gun — to be able to add a little smoke flavor to a dish without over-smoking it or having the long process of using an actual smoker. Also because someone broke my old smoking gun.” 

Jamie Adams, chef/owner at il Giallo Osteria & Bar"I recently took a trip to New York, and several of the great Italian restaurants there had Cavatelli makers that made beautiful Cavatelli from fresh pasta dough very fast. Although we make beautiful handmade Cavatelli at il Giallo (great with brown pistachio pesto and sausage), I would definitely love a Cavatelli maker for Christmas so we could create them a lot faster.”  

Sepsenahki “Chef Ahki” Aahkhu, chef/CEO at Delicious Indigenous: “This Christmas, I plan to be in Mexico, but I still want an amazing plate of greens, stuffing, macaroni, and cranberry sauce. I also would love the perfect New Year's party with a slamming playlist to match my sexy dress! Watch out, 2018!”

Brandon Frohne, culinary director at Holler & Dash Biscuit House: "Here are the items at the top of my Santa Wish List! I sure hope Santa can get down the chimney with these! I would love a Click & Grow Indoor Wall Farm; it uses NASA-inspired nano-tech growing materials that supply just the right amount of oxygen, water, and other nutrients a plant needs, which allows produce to grow 30 percent faster than traditional methods. These indoor wall farms are space efficient to fit into any kitchen for sustainable herbs, micro greens, and lettuce year round. It's pretty incredible. A Breville/PolyScience Control Freak would also be amazing. It's an induction cooktop that holds any cooking temperature from 86 to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, with precise temperature accuracy. It would come in super handy when searing fish or meat so you can achieve the perfect crust across the surface of the protein for ultimate flavor development. Santa, come through!" 

Jonathan McDowell, executive chef at Nine Mile Station: “I want an 18-1/2-inch Classic Pit Barrel Cooker Package. Meat hangs vertically; the surface crisps/crusts more evenly and interior meat heats more evenly as there are no hot conduction points caused by meat lying on a grate. Meat is basted by juices that are sweat out of the meat. Because the meat is vertical, the juice has more distance to travel before dropping off the meat, and hence, vertical does a better job of basting. The juices that drop off of the meat and onto the coals provide smoke and flavor ... a LOT of smoke and flavor.” 

Daniel Peach, chef de cuisine at Chai Pani: “I would love a kilo of zereshk — the Persian barberry — to make the berry pulao from Cafe Britannia Boman in Mumbai. Boman Kohinoor, the 95-year-old proprietor of the legendary Parsi restaurant, imports the small sour berries from Iran every month." 

Taylor Neary, executive chef at the forthcoming Restaurant Holmes: “A Finex 10in cast iron skillet , the Gjelina, Cooking from Venice California cookbook, and a plate set from Wynne Noble.”

Matthew Ridgway, executive chef at Cooks & Soldiers: “Artichoke by Bjorn Shen. This is a book I have been looking at for a hot second. A Middle Eastern chef in Singapore, with a bent of Asian food. A neat pivot to see the stories of a kitchen and restaurants around the world, plus a great take on dinning culture in Singapore. And a Deba knife from Blood Root Blades. I would like to have a knife forged by a local company. This has a wait until 2022. That is insane.” 

Brent Hesse, general manager at the Deep End: "At the very top of my wish list is an industrial centrifuge. I'd be able to clarify citrus, milk wash spirits, and all sorts of other cool and practical tricks that would easily elevate a bar program. " 

Ricardo Soto, executive chef at Sugo: “Ingredient-wise, I want this beautiful wagyu from Japan that I came across a couple weeks ago. It’s from Miyazaki and the marbling and flavor of it is awesome. Obviously truffles and caviar will be included, so I would say: Dear Santa, I don’t want too many things, only a small present, a small box with that beautiful piece of wagyu inside, you have no idea how much fun I’m going to have with it, I already have several plans for it. As far as a gadget, I would say a new EGGniter; it looks like a blow dryer but it’s an igniter for the Big Green Egg. It blows up to 1,200 degrees and it gets your coal hot and ready under five minutes, effortless. And it works with electricity; that way I can spend more time with my Big Green Egg. And if Santa is feeling generous, a new Big Green Egg would be nice, too.” 

Julian Goglia, owner/beverage director at Bar Americano: "I asked my parents for the new Meehan’s Bartender Manual. Since you’re asking, I’d absolutely love a BSA B44 Shooting Star. Outside of a new motorcycle, I’ll settle for a bottle of Campari to share with friends and family." 

Jonathan Fox, chef/co-owner at Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q: “Everyone says I am a tough person to buy a gift for. I have smokers and grills, and plenty of kitchen gadgets, so it is hard to think about anything else I might want there. An 80-inch TV would be great, but unlikely. So, when it comes down to it, what is the one thing I would really want for Christmas? A couple of really great bottles of wine, some great bourbon, and a good group of close folks to enjoy it with over the holidays. That would mean the most to me. Well, that and a Christmas Eve win over the Saints.” 



Justin Fox, chef/co-owner at Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q: “What do I want for Christmas? Hmmm, it may not seem exciting to most but it is to me: I really want some shelving and storage in my kitchen. It always seems like there just isn’t enough for all the cookware I seem to collect (maybe hoard, too). Pots and pans take up space and it would be amazing to have it better organized that it currently is. I've been good; feel free to drop it down my chimney, Santa Claus!”

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