Gift Guide Food

Molly Baz, Sophia Roe, Reilly Opelka, and More Share Their Essential Holiday Gifts for the Gourmands in Your Life

If you don’t want to discuss politics, religion, or your relationship status over the holidays, might we suggest steering the conversation toward food? Everyone has an opinion about it, but the debates won’t tear your family and friends apart. For the first installment of CULTURED’s 2023 gift guide series, we asked a variety of chefs, restaurateurs, and gourmands for their tips. Here are the gastronomic items our community is coveting right now. 

Molly Baz
The chef, food writer, and cookbook author (her latest is More Is More) has had a busy year. To unwind, she's turning to martinis.

"More martinis are consumed over the holidays than during any other time of the year, which is why I am giving out 88-oz Castelvetrano olives in brine to all of my hosting friends—so that the extra dirty martini can flow freely all season long!"

Image courtesy of Cote/Instagram.

Reilly Opelka
When he's not playing tournaments or collecting art, the American tennis pro gathers friends for a fine dining experience at home.

"My favorite gift to give is the Butchers Feast from Cote! It's an amazing at-home dining experience that Simon Kim (founder of Cote) gifts to me on just about every holiday. It's educational and an interactive experience that I get to share with my friends that have never been!"

Evan Ross Katz
The writer, podcast host, and consummate pop culture historian has perfected the art of gifting this year by putting an elegant spin on a practical piece.

"I'm always looking for that go-to for the 'person who has everything' and have found on more than many occasions this [Via Coquina Original Greek Pepper Mill] to be the winner. I like the one-two punch of this gift in that it's super practical (who doesn't need a pepper mill?) and a piece of art for the counter."

Image courtesy of Unearthen/Instagram.

Sophia Roe
For the James Beard Award-winning chef, writer, and founder of Apartment Miso, a beautiful home is a happy home.

"The flatware from Unearthen is some of the most uniquely made and creatively designed out there right now. If you’re looking to splurge on some one-of-a-kind flatware pieces, look no further. Gia Bahm is one of the most innovative object and jewelry designers around. Whether you’re looking to gift someone with a new set of bespoke measuring cups or a necklace, Unearthen has you covered."

Image courtesy of Flamingo Estate.

Helen Molesworth
For the critic, curator, and creator of Death of an Artist podcast, the best gifts come from local Los Angeles hot spots.

"I love gifting things that are seeped in the terroir of a place, so I give boxes of Valerie chocolates and the Manuka honey from Flamingo Estate. Valerie chocolates are ridiculously decadent, and who doesn’t love the grab bag quality of a box of fancy bon bons? As for the Flamingo Estate honey, it is hands down the best honey I’ve ever tasted. They sell it in a wide-mouth jar because they know this honey is not for drizzling—you’re gonna end up using a ladle."

Image courtesy of John Derian/Instagram.

Rachel Karten
The social media consultant and author of the Link in Bio newsletter has a few gifting ideas up her sleeve this season.

"We're living in peak food-shaped candle times, but no one does it better than John Derian. No one ever needs a candle in the shape of a baguette or Scamorza cheese or a chocolate panettone—but who wouldn't want one? 

I could think of no greater gift than introducing a friend to the magic that is Ruffles dipped in gooey, funky Harbison cheese. That's why giving a month (or two!) of Jasper Hill Farm's Cheese Club is always an excellent idea.  

And finally, hear me out: peppercorns. But not just any peppercorns! A chef tin of Diaspora Co.'s Aranya Black Pepper. It's complex, nutmeg-y, and fruity. This gift may seem simple or small—but it's made every meal I've made with it better and if that's not a beautiful gift to give someone else, I don't know what is."

Image courtesy of The Little Plantation.

Fabián von Hauske Valtierra
The mind behind Manhattan staples Wildair, Jac's on Bond, and Mightie's turned to Brooklyn this fall, creating the food menu for cult bar Ray's Greenpoint outpost. Over the years, von Hauske Valtierra has learned the value of a multipurpose tool.

"The greatest gift for a foodie is a microplane. You can do so many things: grate zest for your dessert or drinks, grate spices into your cocktails, truffles onto your pasta. If your recipe calls for a tiny bit of garlic, just grate a little bit, and it’s so much easier and nicer to grate cheese with one of these. It’s honestly good for everything."

Susan Alexandra
The whimsical jewelry and accessories designer has a secret ingredient sure to transform your Hanukkah celebration into the event of the season.

"I recently worked with Island Creek Oysters for my Hanukkah party, and I have to say, their caviar transformed my latkes from 'good' to 'omg!!' Imagine receiving a tin of gorgeous caviar! Add a dollop to your egg salad or just eat it by the spoonful with cold vodka! I'm also not sure if a bowl of crinkly Ruffles, sour cream, and caviar can be topped. It's the thing dreams are made of."

Image courtesy of Brightland/Instagram.

Chloé Crane-Leroux
The food, interiors, and lifestyle photographer and plant-based cook knows that, when it comes to the kitchen, the best presents are the simplest ones.

"My top holiday gift choice has got to be The Artist Capsule by Brightland. It features a quartet of garlic, olive, chili, and basil oils that are simply delightful. This set is more than just a flavor enhancer; it's a source of inspiration in the kitchen. I still remember receiving this exact gift last holiday season, and it completely transformed our traditional family dinner into an unforgettable experience.

The basil oil, my personal favorite, took our homemade pesto to a whole new level, and the classic olive oil became the foundation of all our recipes. The Artist Capsule isn't just a gift, it's a gateway to countless culinary adventures and heartwarming memories. It's the perfect way to inspire memorable holiday feasts and create cherished moments with your loved ones."

Image courtesy of Coravin/Instagram.

Julia Coney
For the peripatetic wine consultant, writer, and founder of Black Wine Professionals, nothing hurts more than leaving half a bottle of wine behind in the fridge when traveling. This year, she found the perfect solution.

"Sparkling wine is my love language, but I can't drink a bottle a day as I would like to. Therefore, the Coravin Sparkling Wine Preservation System is the best gift in preserving sparkling wine bottles for up to 30 days. I can open a favorite bottle of bubbly and not worry that it will go bad in a day or two. It is the gift that keeps on giving."

Image courtesy of Sarah Nsikak/Instagram.

Anna Polonsky
As founder of creative agency Polonsky and Friends, and co-founder of The Deligram and Ask Chefs Anything, Polonsky prioritizes artful gift-giving.

"One of my favorite fashion designers and artists, Sarah Nsikak, just launched her homeware line. I was lucky enough to get my hands on her first-ever custom tablecloth and can’t recommend it enough to spice up your next holiday party look. The cloth pays tribute to her Nigerian family’s tribe, known for their incredible patchwork craft and hosting traditions. You can select your dimensions and general palette preferences, and it’s so beautiful you could also use it as a light blanket."

Image courtesy of Walmart.

Susan Jung

A food writer and columnist for Vogue Hong Kong, Jung cannot help but give food-focused presents during the holidays—whether they're sexy or not.

"I tend to be really practical when giving gifts, and most of the time, my gifts are food-related. I know a rice cooker isn't the sexiest gift, but it's very practical, and if you're like me, it's something you will use several times a week. If I could afford it, I would give my food lover friends who still insist on cooking rice on the stovetop a Zojirushi Fuzzy logic electric rice cooker.

My Zojirushi was a gift to me, and I'm so grateful to my generous friend. It makes the most delicious, fragrant rice, although of course, you have to start off with good rice in the first place—no instant stuff, please! It plays a little tune when the rice is ready, and its sleek design makes it easy to clean."