Professional chefs share tips on buying gifts for keen cooks.
If you have a friend or relative who loves cooking and don't know what to buy them this Christmas, then these gift ideas will make your shopping a little easier. 

Quality knives

Eugene Johnson, the Executive Chef at the Protea Hotel by Marriott Pretoria Centurion, believes that one should only buy certain brands because of their quality: brands such as Victorinox, Robert Welch and Global (expensive but they come with a lifetime guarantee). 

Chef Chad Blows, the chef at Cape Point Two Oceans Restaurant says:  "paring knives make for a good, affordable gift.  The paring knife is particularly useful since it can be used in many ways, including peeling and chopping vegetables."

It's also an idea for an aspirant chef to acquire a knife sharpener so that the knives are always in their best condition. 

The big items

If you're planning on spending quite a bit on the gift, find out what big appliance the keen chef would love to have. 

Advice from executive chef at 15 on Orange Hotel, Tamsyn Wells  is to look at something like a Kenwood Titanium Major. 

"It's a pricey item at around R5 000, but it's the sort of appliance one can keep (for a long time). If you're not looking to spend as much... they're bound to love any of the Kenwood attachments, like those for grinding coffee, mincing and making ice cream," says Wells.

Electric mixer
For someone following foodie trends, an immersion circulator makes for a great gift. 

"This is ideal for someone who is trying out sous vide cooking," says Chef Blows.

This cooking technique is used by the best chefs the world over. It involves immersing the food in a bath of hot water, which allows it to cook without the addition of fat or oil. 

Prices range from just under R2 000 to close to R4 000, so it's an expensive item, but one that a good cook will definitely use extensively.

A dream gift for anyone is a Thermomix, which combines the functions of almost all kitchen appliances - including the stove! 

It's the sort of appliance that would be good for someone just starting out who doesn’t already own the usual appliances. 

Graham Langefeld, h ead chef of the Protea Hotel by Marriott Pretoria Loftus Park, says the Thermomix is "very versatile". 

It blends, whips, cooks custards, steams, mixes, chops, mills and kneads.  

Since the cost involved is around R20 000, this may be the sort of gift that a few friends get together to buy.


Special ingredients

"People tend to hold back on buying special ingredients themselves, so these make really good gift ideas,” says Pam Nicholas. 

"The person receiving the gift will really treasure receiving things like quality olive oil, truffle or sesame seed oil, saffron, pots of herbs, or good chestnuts. Most of these are imported items so they are more than the cost of basic ingredients, but they’re a real treat that you’ll find at good delis," Nicholas adds.